Serving Others is Serving You
I spent Saturday morning volunteering with a youth outreach project of a community literature and literacy organization I am involved in, The Community Literature initiative. I had double-booked myself; my son and I were originally supposed to attend a Club 21 Playdate for children with Down Syndrome, where I was so excited to connect with other families and to promote my parent support group for children with special needs, starting next week. I was torn.
I used to be very involved in my community, particularly in programming around literacy, literature, and the arts. A difficult pregnancy followed by the birth of a child with challenges changed everything. I now had someone who needed me more than any event or organization, in ways that were often dramatic and unforeseen. I sometimes felt drained of the passion I once had for literature, for arts, for other people besides my child. These two years have been an up and down journey of trying to relearn me within motherhood, of trying, and often failing, to figure out what I can handle, what I can commit to, what I must let go of. I have not always made the best choices. Some relationships have grown, many have suffered. Sometimes I have misjudged, and sometimes I have let people down, in trying to reconcile the former "Yes, sure!" girl with the "I'll think about it" or "No, cause this kid's life depends on me" mama I must be.
I decided, in the end, to send the baby off for a daddy day and honor my commitment to Community Literature Initiative and the Living Writers Series, a project that my own classroom visits as I promoted my novel, Butterfly Jar actually inspired Living Writers brings local writers creating culturally relevant literature to South Los Angeles classrooms. Calling folks to ask for money all morning was surprisingly exhilarating, and I know I made the right choice. Fundraising is not at all my favorite tasks, but I am proud to say I brought in several donations to purchase books for the program.
Saturday was just one morning of volunteering, a baby step to a life that serves something beyond myself and my own family. But it reminded me how powerful and important such a life is to me. I need to be there for my son, and ...but I also need to be a person who is fulfilled, who he can look up to, who can inspire him to live his own vision, which I hope will include expressing himself, serving others, and somehow, even in a small way, changing this world. He has already changed my world, for the better. Having someone who depends on me so much has forced me to be more careful, thoughtful, efficient in my service, in how I use my time. This can be frustrating for a joiner who wants to make a difference, and would love to contribute to the community in so many ways. But it is also necessary.
I also need to sync my calendars so I don't get double-booked again..
If you are interested in Community Literature Initiative and the Living Writers Series, visit www.communitylit.org.
For more information on Club 21, visit http://clubtwentyone.org/