Mothering Heights


The Fear to Volunteer


By Christine Fugate.

A friend of mine says there are two types of people in the world: Those who have worked as a waitress and those who haven’t. My husband says there are those that have children and those that don’t. I say there are those that volunteer and those that don’t. I’m not sure which category I fall into but I think it’s the latter.

I will happily volunteer to send in juice boxes or Clorox wipes. I even did Team Mom for soccer and got on the AYSO board, although I’m still trying to figure out how that happened. Maybe it was an endorphin rush after my daughter’s team won the championship.

Anyway, mention room mom, PTA or Schoolpower and I’ll shiver and run.

Last Monday was the last day of National Volunteer Month, a public campaign to sign people up for community service. It’s also when our local school organizations finalize the officers for next year and start calling people to fill other positions.

I’ve avoided those calls with the cancer label on my forehead, but I’m starting to feel more energetic. And a bit guilty. The thought of signing up for anything more than bringing Dixie cups to class though is frankly overwhelming.

Peggy Wolff, next year’s Thurston’s PTA president and a former Top of the World PTA president, and I met this week for some volunteer talk therapy.

“How in the world did you become president of the PTA two times?” I asked.

“Six years ago, I started as room mom for my daughter in first grade. I don’t make pretty little gift bags but I can organize a spreadsheet,” she shared.

“But the job of prez?”

“I get to learn more about the teachers, the school, and the district.”

That’s nice, but still not enough to make me sign on the dotted line.

“When I hear about kids getting scholarships in the high school, I get teary eyed.

I feel like when I volunteer I lift the kids in the community.”

I like it. The old wind beneath my wings. “So how do I figure out my niche?”

“Dabble your toe in the water. Talk to a leader and tell them what feels comfortable to you.”

“I’m scared I’m going to get sucked in.”

“Some people don’t even join the PTA because they are afraid they will be asked to volunteer. I wouldn’t put you on a computer. Why don’t you do a super hike with the Thurston kids?”

I laughed so hard my big butt swathed in new Costco jeans almost fell out of the chair. “Are you kidding? I wouldn’t be able to make it up the hill.”

“So that’s not for you.”

“Isn’t there a job where I can eat cookie dough and discuss the finer points of Don and Megan’s marriage in ‘Mad Men’?”

“You need to step out of your comfort zone. That’s what I did when I became TOW president. I hate conflict but I learned to step into it and be better at it.”

“Stepping out of my comfort zone is exactly what I don’t want to do.”

“What about the ball room at Thurston? Just do it once.”

“Dancing? I have two left feet.”

“No, you just sit there and sign out the balls to the kids during lunch. Very easy.”

I could have my tea, book and even cookie dough, if needed. I mumbled, ‘Yes, okay.”

“Start out small. See if you like it.”

Then it occurred to me, the true division of people is those that say ‘yes’ and those that say ‘no.’ I used to be a ‘yes’ person, but then I decided that ‘no’ was the new ‘yes.’ Follow me?

Surely, there’s an in between response. Put ‘yes’ and ‘no’ together and you get ‘y-e- n.’

Yes, ‘yen’ is my new word. I yen to do it all, but shall choose to reside in the ball room, happily saying, “Sign here, please.”

Christine can be reached at motheringheights@gmailcom

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