Just Say No
If you were a kid growing up in the 1980s you remember the timeless slogan that Nancy Reagan taught us….”JUST SAY NO!” It was a slogan that taught us kids that it was okay to stand up to peer pressure and to say no when and if we were ever offered drugs. I like many other kids of that generation did just that. We listened to Nancy and we said no.
Now, here I am 3 decades later all grown up with 3 kids of my own and a new peer pressure staring me in the face. I have an addiction that I can not kick. It’s called VOLUNTEERING. For some reason, I am finding it hard to channel my inner Nancy and “just say no.”
I would say this addiction first started about 6 years or so ago when my daughter was 2 and my son 6 months old. Feeling lonely being stuck at home all day with two young kids and no social interaction with adults, I drank the suburban Kool-Aid and joined the local chapter of the Moms Club. It was all down hill from there.
At first I was just a member. The moms there were all nice and we shared the common trait of having kids under 5 that were quickly outnumbering us. They welcomed me with open arms. We had play dates. We had holiday parties. I finally had found my people. They didn’t care if I showed up with no make up looking like I brushed my hair with an egg beater. Within months I was on the board and booking appointments for monthly speakers to entertain us on all things Mommy related while our little ones played rather noisily in the same room. It was organized chaos but it felt good to be contributing to something. I was hooked.
Two years later when my daughter was 5 and my son 3, I found out I was pregnant. This should of been enough for me to realize that it was time to take a break from volunteering. Time for me to start nesting. Nope. Instead while talking to a friend who also had a 5 year old daughter, we decided it would be a great idea to join the Girl Scouts. She would be leader and me assistant leader. Within a month we had 14 girls in our troop. Within 2 months baby #3 showed up and I didn’t miss one Girl Scout meeting. It was a fun year. The following year my friend did not return as leader. So I stepped up to become a leader and another mom in the troop signed on to be my co-leader.
It has been 3 years and I am still the leader of the troop. I am also the treasurer of the troop, a first aider for the troop and this year helped out the Cookie mom. Again, all because I could not “just say no.”
But the slope gets slippier. Especially when you have more than one kid. That is when the guilt hit me that I was not volunteering for anything in my middle son’s life. So, I put on my overachiever cape and jumped right in!
Within a year I was his bench coach in baseball, team mom of his flag football team and assistant leader of his Cub Scout den. Again all because when asked I could not “just say no.”
My little guy is 3 and next year he will be starting some extra curricular activities. I know the guilt will hit me like a tidal wave and I will jump in and volunteer for whatever I am asked to do. I will also somehow learn to balance all the other volunteer gigs for each kid I have going on. It will be a challenge but I think I am up for it.
There have been times when I have considered just quitting volunteering for these things cold turkey. It becomes overwhelming trying to balance everything and a home life. But then I would not be there to see my daughter interact with her peers working on a community service project. I would not be there to see my son’s triumphant return to the dugout excited because he got a double at bat and slid into home base for the first time. It’s these little moments that make it all worth it.
So, maybe it isn’t a bad thing that I just can’t “just say no.” This time I think Nancy would approve.