Nearly four weeks into this empty-ish nest thing, the silence in the house is deafening. At this point I’d pay to hear a certain vocal jazz cover of “Get Back Jordan” streaming from our son’s bedroom, whereas a month ago I was ready to throw his sound system out the window if I had to hear it one more time. And I have too much time on my hands; every afternoon the clock ticks way too slowly for my comfort. I guess that’s why something I’d been turning over in my mind for a long time has finally pushed its way forward and forced me into action: I applied to volunteer at our kids’ former high school.
This school community enriched our lives immeasurably. Teachers, counselors, and administrators not only taught our kids but guided them in choosing and applying for colleges, with reference letters and scholarship applications, with becoming the mature and responsible students they continue to be as they move on. The Husband and I were right there with them, every step of the way, working with the school faculty as a team.
But there’s another side to our school, which I was able to see during the many hours I sat in the lunch area selling concert and play tickets and watching kids. I saw aimless students, kids who picked fights, kids who tried to hide the fact that they had no lunch. I saw that other side of our school when I was helping set up for those concerts and plays, as kids came in to perform…the kids who never once had a parent or other loving adult to watch them and cheer them on.
As Sister #2 once put it, our school is really two schools; one that consists of high-achieving kids with bright futures and plenty of family support, and one that consists of kids who struggle even to get to school every day, let alone to learn and graduate. I’ve lived long enough to recognize that even those seemingly all-put-together families have trials and challenges behind closed doors. By the same token, many of the kids without a lot of economic advantages do have a solid family system behind them. But still, there’s one set of kids who have a head start that another set of kids in our neighborhood don’t enjoy.
Now I have the opportunity to make some small difference to that second group of kids; to give something back; to say thank-you to our “village.”
To be honest, it wasn’t easy to take the step of applying to volunteer. I had to overcome a lot of what if’s: What if I don’t have the time? What if I’m not good at relating to the kids I’m assigned to? What if I put myself out there and fail? I guess it finally hit me that if everyone thought that way, they’d have to close down the volunteer program. And if I force myself into pep-talk mode, I remember that I’m a trained educator, I work with kids all week long, and I’ve seen our own three through high school. Surely with all that in my back pocket I can come up with something to offer.
We’ll see. There’s always that little, nagging voice in the back of my head saying, “You can’t do this.” But for now I’ll ignore that voice and hope for the best.
6 thoughts on “From me to me: “Get over yourself and do something.””
It sounds like you have a lot to offer both the school and the students. Seems like a great way to beat the empty-nest blues and it could open some other volunteer doors as well.
I hope so. Thanks for the encouragement! 🙂
Wow, congratulations. I really hate that little voice. It helps to know that others have overcome it! 🙂
Good for you!!! So many people give in to that voice that says they can’t do it. I recently went back to school to get my college degree. I was petrified!!! I didn’t think I had the time or knowledge to do it. I am happy to say that two years ago I graduated with all my kids in the crowd cheering me on. You can do this and the school and those kids will all benefit from your wisdom and experience!!!!
Well done you! I think this sounds like a great idea, you may not be perfect at it to begin with but you’ll get there. It’s a great way of applying the skills you learnt as a parent to help other children who don’t get the support they need. Good luck!
Thanks for that pep talk! 🙂