Scaling Back When I Have To

Kale’s school is about 1.8 kilometres (not that I’ve measured or anything) from our house so it’s a longer walk than most of his classmates. We often pass a number of his classmates climbing into cars when we are more than halfway to his school. We only have one family car, a choice we’ve made and which I have lots of regret about a lot of times, and it means that most days, we walk. I do want Kale to eventually be old enough to walk on his own, but 6 is a bit young to walk a fairly winding route with a number of major intersections to navigate. Eventually, right?

As much as I despise not having two cars (mostly when we are late or it is raining), Kale and I talk when we walk. I once heard Barry MacDonald speak, and he mentioned that it is critical to get boys physically moving if you want to tap into their emotional side. Some of the chats Kale and I have when we walk to school are our best chats.

The other day we were walking to school and Kale said, “hey, Mom.” (This is the latest and greatest sentence starter these days  – I HATE IT).

Sigh. “Yes, Kale?”

“You go to a lot of meetings. Can we book a day to do something together, just us?”

Ouch.

I love being involved in my community. Right now I am a director or committee member for no less than five groups. I love to contribute my skills and ideas in ways that positively benefit the place I live. I choose organizations that are aligned with my own personal ethics. I also love signing up for conferences and forums and learning everything I can.

But I can’t do it anymore at the expense of my family, and I need to scale back.

This isn't a picture of me or anything but it is a good picture of a random dude staring off into the horizon. Dude - I so relate.
This isn’t a picture of me or anything but it is a good picture of a random dude staring off into the horizon. Dude – I so relate.

I feel regret that I missed some of the warning signs of being too involved and too scheduled, and that it had to come to Kale bringing it up. I wish I had seen it coming and adjusted without him having to say anything. I have always had a busy schedule and am actually pretty good at juggling schedules. I love time management and often get asked for advice from friends who struggle with it.

But no matter how well I can put appointments in my calendar, there is a problem if Kale is asking to “book” time with me. For one, he’s using language that he thinks will be effective because I guarantee he has heard me say on the phone: “let’s book a time to…” and for two, the truth is that he doesn’t even know all of the meetings I go to – just the ones when he’s home from school but not yet in bed.

While I don’t want to make any immediate or sudden resignations (I’m a big believer in fulfilling your obligations), today I let the PAC co-chair know that I will be scaling back significantly come September (our term runs September to May), and I reiterated to the farmers market board that I won’t be coming back in 2016 when my term is up.

My time with some of the City committees is coming to an end as well, and aside from a particular task force that meets once a month only and has a schedule with a clear-end date, I won’t seek to sit on the city committees again once my terms are up on those. I also volunteer for KidSport, and I’ll keep that commitment for another year at least – all of the volunteering I do for them I can do from home and it is limited. I won’t accept any new commitments except for one off volunteering shifts here and there for friends’ events, or if it is time I’d take away from work, rather than my family.

As much as I want to be involved in All Of The Things, I need to listen to my son and scale back. Later, when he is a teenager and wants nothing to do with me, or even later when he is an adult and has moved away, I can put up my hand again, but right now it is time to scale back.

4 years ago

1 Comment

  1. AAAH! you have reached the point where we as parents all go. It is very hard to learn the “no” word as you must remember I did the same things. We all do it thinking we should do our part “Its for my kids”. Well sometimes things come along without you even knowing it and you end up with things to attend every night of the week. Glad our boy pulled you up, maybe you should have with me but then maybe it wouldn’t have made you the parent you are today, cause I like to think I had a little bit to do with who your are today and the parent you are today. There is a balance and you will find it and your right before you know it he won’t want you to be part of what he is doing. For now enjoy it is a special time for you, Ross and Kale. Go with the flow.

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