Not on Board

Thank you for not asking me.  I'm relieve that I wasn't.  I have been in the past.  I have said yes.  But this time I was going to have to say:  "no."

It's not that I don't want to serve; I do.  You might not know it, but I currently serve on 3 committees. Just a year ago, I completed my service on the pastoral search committee which took up a good chunk of my "free" (and not so free) time for approximately 3 years. Additionally, I volunteer in the thrift shop when I can; sing in the choir (and have for over 20 years); provide publicity/act as media point person and schedule lay readers (which I've also done for over 20 years).  I've served on all three boards (back when there were three!) in the past. (I'll admit the past is long ago; before my tween son was born.) Some I've loved and others not so much.  I served when I had the time.  When I could GIVE my time to a specific board. 

Unfortunately, my time, as is the case with so many other people, is limited and precious. To get to an early evening meeting, I rushed home from work, scarfed down a quick dinner (without my family) and to get here before seven.  But that's not where it ends; when we wrap up I will be going across the hall to weekly choir practice. By the time I get home it will be after nine and I will not have seen my son since 7:30 in the morning.

This crazy running around is not atypical by any measure. Let me give you a peak into a typical day for me:
  • Wake up between 4:00/5:00 AM.  Get up, throw on some workout clothes, put on sneakers, and reflective vest (its dark out).  Grab hand weights and phone (for music to listen to and app to track distance and time).  This plus other little added tasks in the morning takes about 15 minutes.
  • Out the door walking for approximately 90 minutes.  (Used to be less, but I'm slowing down as I get older.  And YES!  I am getting old.) If I don't walk or do some form of exercise during this time, it won't get done.  In order to be a healthy, productive human being, daily exercise is a must. I've been doing this for over 5 years.  I need to be back in the house before 6:15 when my son's alarm goes off.
  • Between 6:15 and 7:25:  Shower, dress, hair and make-up.  Get kid up, out of bed and fed.  Make sure we both have all the supplies we need for the day (lunches, paperwork etc.)  Watch 5 minutes of CBS This Morning.  (Or at least "your world in 90 seconds at the top of the 7 o'clock hour.)  Handle miscellaneous chores and crises as they pop up. (And they always pop up!  Ask any parent who is rushing out the door.)
  • Between 7:30 and 7:40:  In the car, pick up son's friend for band or choir (which child depends on which day it is) and get them both to school.
  • Between 7:40 and 8:40:  Battle traffic.  Daily commute time varies depending on road construction (it can take me 5+ minutes just to get out of the middle school drop off area), traffic conditions (why must we slow down and gawk at the car on the shoulder?) and weather.
  • Arrive at the office between 8:00 and 9:00.  My day "officially" starts at 9:00, but timing depends on traffic.  Also, to avoid major crowds, usually on Fridays after I drop off at the middle school, my husband and I head to the grocery store and do the weeks shopping.  (The difference between shopping BEFORE 8 AM and after work on any given day is AMAZING.)  Whatever day is grocery day I tend to arrive a little late to work.
  • My work day "ends" at 5:00, give or take.  (Is there a working person out there who has their day actually end at a given time?  The clock may say 5 PM, but the phone still rings and the emails still come in.  Urgent issues don't appear in the middle of the day; it's usually at the end of the day or very early in the morning.)  Then it's off to battle traffic as I head home.
  • I usually get home around 6.  I spend the next hour prepping for the next day (making lunches, laying out clothes), making dinner (or helping the husband make it), and doing various chores (like checking the mail and paying bills).
  • From 7:00 to 9:30 (give or take), is "down time."  It's time to catch up on items that I didn't accomplish during the day.  Maybe run a load of laundry. Scrub a toilet? Answer more emails.  Start writing a blog post.  Make sure the boy has done all his homework, practiced his trumpet, read for 20 minutes etc.  If I'm lucky, I can hop in the shower first and before I head to bed to read or watch a little tv.  (If I'm really lucky all three of us will climb in and watch something together.)
So it goes day by day.  My weekends are a little less scheduled.  I do "sleep in" till 6 or 7 before doing the daily walk.  The rest of my Saturday and Sundays are for catching up on things I DIDN'T accomplish during the week.  (Which is why my house nearly always looks like it needs a does!)  All those little things add up and take time. (Even living in a small house with one bathroom!).  There's also work at the Thrift Shop on Saturdays and choir, church services and various meetings on Sunday.  And I have to admit that I like having some personal/family fun time on Saturday and Sunday afternoons and evenings.

As you can see, my time is limited and to be quite frank, at the end of the day, I am pretty worn out.  I'm definitely not thinking straight.  And I know I am not alone.  I am not unique as there are many of us who work full time and have a plethora a family obligations.  (Some of us care of children, some for parents and some for both!) And I won't even mention the challenges that some face on a daily basis that zap strength and resolve.  Our world seems to spin faster and faster with more to do and less available time to do it.

While I can't speak for anyone other than myself, I want to serve and I enjoy volunteering in areas where I fit best.  Many of those areas are "non-traditional" and don't require weekly or monthly meetings.   End of the day meetings are not where I excel, so I appreciate these "alternative" opportunities.  This is where I feel that I can fill a niche and be helpful in a unique way.

So please know, that if I say "no" it's not that I don't want to serve.  I DO and will, but need to do so in a way that fits the lifestyle of my family.  (And I'm sure so do many others.)  

Also know that just because I say I can't now, doesn't mean I won't in the future.  I'm always pleased to be asked and when the time and situation allows, I hope you will ask again and perhaps then I will say yes.  The road we all travel is ever changing and so are our roles.  Those who are unable to serve in certain capacities now may be able to later.  And those who serve in "non-traditional" roles are the ones who make the collective "us" a unique and wonderful.  


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