Today I Gave: My time to the school. I spent the morning in the office tallying up numbers for our latest fundraiser.
Today I Received: The gift of help. As I was number-crunching in the office (something I'm terrible at -did I mention my fuzzy math before?), I was also trying to keep Eli somewhat quiet and out of the way. I was failing miserably both at the math and the management. One of the upper elementary teachers popped in the office and began entertaining Eli. Like the Pied Piper, Eli followed him down to his room for a bit. Those few minutes to stare at the numbers in peace was a true gift.
Did you know that I'm the president of the PTO this year? Crazy, huh? I was more than happy to take on the responsibility, but I was a bit surprised. I've always considered myself more of a committee member than leader. It's definitely been a learning experience. It's also a significant time commitment, as you would imagine. I don't begrudge the commitment at all – this school has been such a blessing in my family's life that I would give whatever they needed and then some. As we're not in a position to give financially, it feels good to give of my time.
And still, there I was this morning, tallying numbers for the latest fundraiser and feeling my blood pressure rise. The numbers weren't adding up, I was confused and feeling frustrated. I had a list a mile long of errands to run and various things that needed my attention at home. I was giving the gift of my time, for sure, but I was not giving it with a gracious heart.
That bothered me for the rest of the day. Why was my attitude so ugly? As I turned it over and over I realized that I wasn't bitter about giving my time as a volunteer of the school. I was bitter about what I wasn't giving myself, and that is the gift of time to renew my own spirit.
There are always things that need to be done. This time I spent at the school was necessary today – there is a deadline and the order must be completed and done correctly. But what about the other things I "need" to do? Do I really need to wash the sheets today? Do I really need to run all my errands this minute, when I'm feeling run down and with a cranky preschooler in tow? Will the world collapse if we don't have the perfect pumpkins to carve this year, or the perfect gift for a shower that requires driving across town during rush hour?
I think not. It's easy to think this way now, when I've mulled it over in the quiet. But this morning it was all necessary, and it was at the expense of me and my family. I was snippy all day, quick to be impatient and sharp.
The weekend is coming up. The laundry can sit in a clean, but unfolded pile. The sheets can wait. I can take a nap when Eli naps. I can take a bath and read a junky magazine. I can slip out for a quiet drive by myself and listen to the book I'm enraptured with at the moment (It's The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I don't ever want it to end.).
Let's all do this. The next time we see a friend giving so freely of their time, let's thank them. And then ask them what have they done for themselves lately? And if they can't think of anything? Tell them you need them to do something nice for themselves ASAP. We Type-A's respond best with those kinds of ultimatums. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to drool over the latest Saveur in the slightly-dirty bathtub. The scrubbing can wait, the magazine can not.