I was talking to my girlfriend the other night on the phone and she started crying. She was feeling overwhelmed. Her husband was going out of town, she was going to be alone with the three kids for the two weeks before Christmas and had lots and lots to do to get ready for the holiday, including run two class parties. Within two breaths of the breakdown she then said, “Oh and I signed up to work the Scholastic Book Fair at school next week.” (I need to also mention that she moved to a foreign country just a few months ago so she is alone with three kids half-way around the world from everyone she knows.)
I chastised her for signing up. I said you’re not allowed to cry about being overwhelmed and then take on even more. I told her we need to set limits for ourselves and not overextend.
At that point she said, “Hello pot, it’s the kettle calling.”
I had told her minutes before that I had agreed to take home 150 envelopes to stuff for church, offered to stay with a sick friend for a couple of hours, had planned to offer the next day to buy our class holiday present for the teacher and had agreed to host a Pinkalicious cupcake baking party for Lilina and some buddies. (Sucker!)
So I am wondering: Do all mothers have a hard time saying NO to volunteering at church and school? Is everyone out there extending themselves beyond 24-hour time limits to do things for others? And if so, why? Do we want to genuinely help our communities? Is this just in our nature? Is it for appearances? Is it just in our DNA to care for everyone else? Is it habit?