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Cheryl's Parenting Journal

Entry 31 ~ May 25, 2009
~ Much to Remember on Memorial Day!

Anne and her best friend Bella
Annie and her best friend
I cannot believe it's been nearly a month since I've caught up with all of you. I'd love to have an excuse such as being away on a remote Caribbean island or perhaps on a well-deserved retreat in some picturesque mountainside cabin, but that is not the case at all. The fact of the matter is-I'm a junkie, and I'm ready to come clean.

I have no one to blame but myself. I didn't have to say yes each time, I could've said "I'm sorry, I have a family that needs me to be available for them, but instead, I continued to take hit after hit and before I knew it, I was in so deep I hardly recognized my self, my family or my own home. You see, I'm not your typical junkie-I've been getting high from giving a bit too freely of my time-you see, I'm addicted to volunteering.

Wow-did that ever feel good to say those words aloud. I have wanted to shout it at the top of my lungs for years now, but I didn't want people to think I was complaining or worse yet, a slacker. When you have eight kids, one of the things you learn quickly is the art of squeezing every extra minute possible out of each passing hour. It's a challenge at first, but soon enough, it becomes as natural as breathing and without even realizing it, I was soon able to slowly add little "extras' into my schedule that most people wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole.

It starts with a simple item like volunteering to bake for the class party. Then, it's manning an hour or two at the book sale. Next it's chaperoning field trips, taking on the job as room mother and before you know it you're on the board of the PTO. After that, it really takes on a mind of its own and you are on every committee that the school system and church has ever created.

I'm that mom who has never learned how to say "no". I am going from morning till late into the evening and most of my time is spent volunteering. I'm not saying that volunteering does not have its place in our already busy lives, but when you are juggling eight kids, a husband, a feisty dog and a new small business, something has to go. That something was me. Not only did I stop exercising all together and choosing the right diet for my diabetic lifestyle, I also thought nothing of attending meetings that conflicted with my children's baseball games or bedtime routines. It's almost shameful, but it's the truth. I was a volunteer addict who just couldn't get enough-until these past few weeks.

You see, one of those jobs I took on was to design and create the brochure we will use for our school auction this coming Friday. This auction takes place every four years and each time we have it, it turns into a bigger and bigger event. I had no idea of the magnitude of this undertaking until I was already knee-deep in material that I had to put into some type of "readable and creative" manner, and by then, there was no turning back.

This project took over 100 hours of my time. I was sleeping about 4.5 hours a night and giving the rest of my waking hours to the auction and any leftovers to the pitiful excuse of housekeeping and mothering I had time for.

This weekend, as I was about to celebrate my 45th birthday, I had a complete awakening and "aha" moment. I knew that volunteering this much of my precious time was wrong. It's not wrong to be willing to pitch in and do my share when I am able, but it is wrong when it hurts my family.

What a life lesson to be learned! And I don't think I'm too late. The auction brochure is now done and it is a beauty. My 100-plus hours of work does shine in its finished pages, but the time it took away from my family was by no way worth it. What was worth it was that I learned, the hard way, what is most valuable in life, and that is something I will hang on to for the rest of the time my young children are in school. Time with them is more important than overextending myself on committees and other tasks. So this junkie has now come clean, and hopefully my rehab will be easy and painless!

Hope everyone has a wonderful end of May. So glad to be back with all of you!

Take care,
~ Cheryl

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