My foot dragged through the packed, wet sand as I attempted to write in cursive. I had been snapping shots and observing the kids, most of the day, and my mind envisioned the above.
The water was colder than usual, the waves bigger and the uncrowded beach reminded us that other schools were in session on this last Friday of summer vacation. I waded in the surf and knew when the girls had arrived; the high pitched squeals making me turn my head as they held one another and shivered at the water’s edge. I’ve watched these girls grow and am astounded at the young women standing before me. My days of young parenthood are numbered. The time will come when these kids will choose not to come to a beach with their moms and dads. Soon they’ll be driving cars and hanging out with peers; seeking independence. Away from me; from us.
This morning I sat amongst hundreds of parents in a high school cafeteria; my mindset mentally getting in the game. It makes all the difference; mental preparation. I am gearing up for another school year and, most summers, I am in denial with heels dug in the sand; kicking and screaming that my lazy days will come to an end. I glanced at the various people surrounding me; all walks of life. Some wore matching shirts with bling emblazoned PTA on them, others in work attire, though a majority of us wore flip-flops and casual clothes; the unspoken uniform for these parents that volunteered to spend half of a Saturday learning PTA protocol. It was affirmation for me to sit amongst these people. None of them get paid.
“The overall purpose of PTA is to make every child’s potential a reality by engaging and empowering families and communities to advocate for all children.” Every child. One voice.~ http://www.pta.org.
I needed this reminder. Most times I throw myself into service and works; mentally unprepared for the tasks at hand. I get overwhelmed. Stressed. The people who suffer? My family. It is the hubs’ endless lament that I serve others before I serve my own family. What does this do for us? Why does it always have to be you? In the past years I’ve found myself asking this same question and as I transitioned from stay-at-home motherhood to assuming our family business; my time constraints have made me prioritize.
The realization has just come this weekend after talking to my bff 2,000 miles away and dear friends across a crowded dinner table. I am clearing my mental baggage. Saying No creates better Yeses. I never want to look back at this time of my life and wish I could’ve done something different. I want to be a part of my children’s lives before they are out of my household. Giving my time, my service, is how I attain this.
In clearing the mental baggage my mind becomes clearer; the choices I make, meaningful. I cannot please everyone but I will always try to negotiate through the muck of life to seek my truths; what I stand for. And so I created my own mission statement, my set of by-laws to define what I hope to accomplish for myself, and my family, at the onset of this school year.
- I will not be the complaining parent who takes on too much. This was mandated by the hubs when he discovered the various tasks I have agreed to. Stop whining and just do it.
- I will see the glass as half-full; not half empty. I am quick to find deficiencies but hard pressed to find solutions. This is where I need to live the phrase water off a duck’s back. There are things I can change and others I cannot. Acceptance. Forgiveness. Dwelling on the whys creates mental baggage.
- I will be a better communicator. When issues arise I don’t voice them. I dwell on them. For months, sometimes years. I am learning to articulate these thoughts and am discovering that people appreciate honesty rather than false platitudes. Stepping out of my four walls.
- I will be grateful for the opportunities to serve; to contribute; both at work and school. I am fortunate to have the flexibility of my schedule. I do not want to be the parent that resents being one of the few to carry the load of many. i will be thankful that I can be a part of it.
- My attitude is everything. This is my main goal for my boys; social skills. I want them to look others in the eye and say a simple, “Hello.” To smile. To say “How can I help you?” without prompting. My sons are my legacy and so I must model these same traits. I want them to see the positives; to appreciate the simple acts of kindness. Opening doors for others. Encouragement and positive empowerment can change any outlook; most times.
- I will stand for what I believe in. I want my sons’ moral compass to always point north. Faith. Sticking up for the kid who needs a friend. I don’t want them to follow the masses. I want them to forge their own paths just as I need to forge mine.
- I will not serve for recognition or favors. Although my boys are altar servers at church, they may not use this time for community hours. This is a duty; a call to dedicate your time. It is not allowed to be on a resume. The time I choose to give to others is exactly that. A gift. There should be no expectation of anything in return.
And so the transition from the ever shortening days of summer to fall is happening, day-by-day. I walked amongst parents in the crowded halls of our elementary school; lining up to meet teachers who will impact my children in this next school year. I know they are in good, capable hands; these women who share my ideals of empowering and engaging my boys to reach their highest potentials. I am in awe of these teachers; their ability to inspire. One bad teacher/coach can damage a kid’s love of learning. And so I grin from ear-to-ear. My boys are going to have an awesome year!