Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Me I Find There

I enjoy a good escape.

Nibbling on dark chocolate while sipping a bold Starbucks coffee.  Losing myself in a Jodi Picoult novel, or falling in love with a classic for the 14th time.  Slowly biking a stone-laden path, blasting Kelly Clarkson and The Beatles.

It is why I love Time Out for Theta Mom Thursday.

A chance to escape. 

My graceful exit from the land of sweet potatoe puke and breast milk splatters.

The only requirement... one hour spent away from your children.

I'm in.

Only this month my escape was more like a swap.  One set of preschoolers for another.  Finger paints and play-doh for, well, more finger paints and play doh.

I did avoid the ever-dreaded bedtime marathon, but at the price of three and four year-olds hopped up on pizza, soda, and two dishes of ice cream a piece. 

The exchange... a sense of normalcy.  Of contribution.  Of importance.

The feeling that I'm good at something that is not getting a baby to sleep or negotiating lunch options with a toddler.

Okay, so what I did is this.  I began volunteering with a grief group... again. 

I was involved at its conception, then took a break after the birth of my second son.  It is a group for families dealing with the loss of a loved one.

I spend more than an hour there, actually over three, once every other week.

And I know I'm just working with preschoolers, but I feel like I'm making a difference. 

A month before my first son was born I graduated from a program in child counseling.  I loved it. 

I was scared out of my mind before every session, but I left with the satisfaction of knowing I was good at something. 

And now that I'm volunteering with this group, it is like I remembered that I can do things other than, you know, mom things.  And I can do them well.

My little baby is one of the most ridiculous human beings I know.  All you have to do is glance at him and his face explodes in a big, goofy grin.

When my husband and I need to leave the baby with his toys we begin our withdrawal by "pumping him up with love."  We just go crazy on him, tickling and laughing and baby talking until he just can't take it any more.  His little feet kick, his hands dance spastically, and he grunts like a miniature machine gun.

I think that is what I am doing for these kids.

Because their adults just don't have the energy or emotional security to pour such focused attention into their little ones.

They need to think about who will mow the lawn or complete the taxes or bring home money to pay the bills.

So for a couple hours every other week I enjoy pumping up these kids with the attention and acceptance and security they crave.

It is a time out.

For these families and for me.

I feel like I'm part of something bigger.

And I know that staying home with my children is important.  That I am helping and making a difference in my daily life. 

But when my life seems like a string of poopy diapers it hardly feels that way.

And so I admit it is selfish and certainly not a great reason to help others.  But I like contributing to people I did not push out of my body.

It makes me feel good.

There, I said it. 

And though my white, volunteer shirt may be stained with sweet potatoes and breast milk, I like leaving the mom me behind.

I like the me I find there.


  1. That's a great way to spend your "time out". I'm sure the parents appreciate having some time when they know their kids needs are being looked after too.

  2. Wow! Amazing gift you have, and an amazing opportunity too. I must admit, if I have a babysitter, I tend to be pretty selfish with my time away. Thanks for the encouragement to reach beyond myself. :) -Karen

  3. What a great way to spend your time :) I do have my moments too - spending time with others' kids can be easier than your own. That's great what you are doing for other families though!

  4. Wow - what a WONDERFUL way to spend a time out, and knowing you are helping someone else!

  5. What a great thing to do - if this makes you feel like you and gives you some time out, whilst at the same time helping families less fortunate that yourself all kudos to you! Every Mom needs something for herself - a lesson I am learning a little late but it is never too late

  6. I think it's wonderful that you choose to spend that time helping others! It shows how selfless you are, as well as a wonderful role model to your child when he becomes older.

  7. What a great thing to do. I didn't even know there were groups like that out there. Do you need to have counseling experience to volunteer?


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