I used to volunteer at least once a week. From the age of 15, I found that volunteering was a great way to develop skills, meet new people and gosh darn it, it made me feel great! I have worked in youth detention facilities, taught in the mountains of Thailand, helped in the Commonwealth games, dressed women who were re-entering the workforce, and tutored kids in after school programs in poor parts of New Zealand.
Yet since having children I have not volunteered for anything really.
If I have, it is a one off bake sale type of thing -- low commitment. Has having children made me more selfish? More self-focused? I have become much more conservative with my time and many things have fallen by the wayside (exercise, friends, dreams of doing a PhD), but I'd hate to think that one of those things is giving service to my community.
I do feel that I am a much more generous person since having children; infinitely less selfish and self-focused. From making sure that the kids eat before I do, they get new shoes before I do to making sure that they are being raised in the best possible way that we can manage. Yet I wonder if that energy is ultimately selfish as well -- it is still MY family I am serving.
I'm not a religious person but I have always liked the idea of tithing. Except rather than giving 10% of my income to the Church, I've tried to give 10% of my time to my community. Yet right now between work, two kids and battling cancer, I feel stretched to the very limit of what my energy will allow.
With that is a loss of connecting with others, I liked helping other people. I liked feeling part of something and now I feel as though my awesome little family is tight and well cared for -- but slightly isolated. I also wonder whether or not my boys are missing the gift of service to others as well. I think once we are a bit healthier and have kicked cancer's stupid butt, I will work on finding the right way for us to contribute. Maybe it will be as simple as a litter picking up day.
Photo Credit: dotpolka.
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