Monday, June 22, 2009

The Unpardonable

Today I am committing The Unpardonable Sin.

I am keeping my kids home from the first day of VBS.

Actually, I am committing two sins: not volunteering today, AND not sending my kids.

My VBS-age girls, Annie-7 and Libby-11, have been gone for two weeks straight: first as "tag-alongs" with me to youth camp, and last week to their own girls' church camp. Annie came home completely exhausted and not feeling well. Ruthie-5, though home with me the second week, spent the last week feverish and missing her sisters during the day, and coughing her lungs out at night. Libby just said, "I haven't had any 'summer' yet! I just want to be home!"

(Summer around here is obviously defined as lying around doing absolutely nothing.)

I hear ya, sister. We are all tired.

This leads me to ponder one of the great enigmas of Big Family volunteer involvement: it's not always directly reciprocal. When I only had one or two kids, it was easy: we all took turns taking care of each other's kids in the nursery. I was a preschool director for a while, even. But these days, with preschool, elementary, middle school, and high schoolers, if I were to maintain that "standard" of involvement in every department, I'd not only be exhausted, I'd never. be. home.

(Another enigma is that if I drug all my kids to each other's events, they'd be exhausted and never home, either, but that's for another post!)

So here we are. I am forced to be content stretching myself thinly, making decisions that work for my family, picking and choosing where to put my time. Weighing the costs and benefits (to all of us) and seeing if I can somehow consolidate efforts. And especially now in a small town church, where we only have four paid staff members, trying not to worry about others thinking I'm a slacker because I can't explain why I'm not there every day. (I am helping at the end of the week with take-down, a job those in charge reserve for the undeserving and undercommitted. So much for "it takes a village.").


I guess I'm back to my usual spot, feeling like I'm not doing any one thing particularly well, trusting God to fill in where my efforts (again) run into the unforgiving curbs of my family's limits.

Which is probably where He wants me, anyway.


Maureen said...

I struggle with the same issue! I want to be involved with each one of my kids activities. I want the kids to support their siblings by attending games, dance recitals, blah blah blah. But, you are right. Does it pay in the end? When everyone is exhausted, the house is a mess and everyone is at each other's throats? For what?

I have had to accept that I cannot do it all AND neither can they. I have had to be choosy where to spend my time, my volunteer time and my kids time in order for everyone to live a happy peaceful life.

I too have struggled with the thought that the other parents and volunteers must think I am not pulling my weight. Oh well. Let them think what they will. I just do the best I can in every area.
Great post, comforting to know I am not alone in this.

Lori said...

It is comforting to know we're not alone isn't it? I think as parents (moms in particular) we ALL struggle with this. Hang in there...ans enjoy the summer WITH your kiddos!!!

katherine said...

as a mom of a 20-month-old and one due in august, i STILL face "why aren't you involved" issue at our mega-church. can't imagine what it will be like when we (hopefully) have a family the size of yours.

we volunteer with the preschoolers one sunday a month. at vbs time, i will be 35 weeks pregnant and don't WANT to play on the floor/outside in the 100-degree texas heat with someone else's kids. our little guy is too young for vbs. and STILL people wonder why we aren't helping. humorous, almost :)

mholgate said...

Katherine, I am praying for you. It is true that Summer can fill up all too quickly with camps, church activities, and other outings. I think Libby has the right idea though. What about quality down time at home as a family? You did the right thing to keep them home today. Don't feel guilty for looking out for your family.


E. Tyler Rowan said...

The only unpardonable sin in my books is not listening to God. And frankly, I don't think God is all that concerned about the hours we spend volunteering or not. He gives us each specific gifts and tells us to be good stewards of them. That is the only thing you need to be accountable for, my friend. :)

P.S. Good call on staying home today.

Queen to my 3 Boys said...

'I guess I'm back to my usual spot, feeling like I'm not doing any one thing particularly well, trusting God to fill in where my efforts (again) run into the unforgiving curbs of my family's limits.'

Ahhhh, the familiarity of this feeling is getting to be oddly comforting...

Andrea said...

I guess I'm back to my usual spot, feeling like I'm not doing any one thing particularly well, trusting God to fill in where my efforts (again) run into the unforgiving curbs of my family's limits.

Me too! You are not alone!! In our weakness, He is strong.

Elspeth said...

I just resigned from a very time consuming ministry I was involved in at my church. I'd been dancing around it for 2 YEARS!! Yes, I said 2 YEARS!!

I started when we had 3 preschoolers. I served for 10 years faithfully, and in the past 3 years we've had 2 more kids. It took me so long to quit because I was afraid of what people might say if I wasn't involved enough at church. The pressure got to be too much so finally...I acted.

I feel like I can breathe again.

Thanks for this. I was really blessed to know I'm not the only one who just can't do it all and am tired of trying.

El Shaddai Ranch said...


Ugh..I feel the stares from the young moms who have one or two kids as they try to make me feel guilty for not volunteering in the nursery every Saturday night and Sunday morning. I try to tell myself...they just don't get it. But, then I feel alone...does anyone get it?

Yep...Katherine does.


Over the last 5 years there have only been a handful of activities where both parents watched attentively as a child participated in an event. We are hardly ever all together, b/c I just can't do it. My sister doesn't get this and constantly berates me for not "being there" for my kids. HELLO...dragging the little ones to every swim meet, VBS, camp, drama performance, guitar lesson and flag football game doesn't help them either. These blessings are wearing me out!!!!!!!

Ugh. I keep telling myself that this is just a season, but HELLO this season is taking forever!


JJ said...

Oh, I had to smile when I read the fist few lines of this post! Me too Katherine - I didn't send my kids this year or volunteer (it was the week before vacation and I knew I'd never get us packed if we participated)! It has to be the unpardonable sin- oh the guilt!

Unknown said...

I couldn't agree more! I have five kids, too, and every decision to volunteer considers whether I can actually do it given my candle-burning-on-five-ends life.

Unknown said...

I couldn't agree more! I have five kids, too, and every decision to volunteer considers whether I can actually do it given my candle-burning-on-five-ends life.

Unknown said...

I have missed you. So glad I chose this post to catch up with you on.I needed to hear these words. I am in the same boat right now. I have my 9 and 10 year old and then 3 (soon to be 4) babies all under 2 years old. I often feel like I am not doing anything well. Thanks for your honesty.

Unknown said...

P.S. My email has changed. It's now
Amy a.k.a bigfatsugarmama

Unknown said...

I made the decision to skip VBS this year altogether. I felt (feel) sort of guilty -- especially when Kyle, 5, started seeing the signs and asked when it was, because he liked it so much this year.

But we are planning a big driving trip that will span 2 1/2 weeks, and IF we made it back for VBS, it would have been just a day or two before, meaning my kids would have been on the go for over 2 weeks, then plunked into VBS which always always wears us all down (in a good way -- once a year).

So, we'll miss it, and with the other plans on the schedule for summer, I think it was a good choice. I hope.

Jill said...

Oh do I hear what you are saying. For the past couple years I have taken a 'easy job' with VBS and taken a lot of flack for it. But I have also found that just because I can do a job doesn't mean I should. Teaching VBS leaves me agitated, tired, and on edge. So the 'easy job' is really better for my own kids and husband.

Lisa said...

I have 5 one point I had 3 of the five 2 years old and under(set of newborn twins and a 2 yr old)...and it was at that point that something had to give...I didn't have the energy to worry anymore about what anyone would think...we are now attending a church which doesn't "divide and conquer" the family as soon as you step in the door...that helps a lot because there's not a myriad of programs to be attended to and volunteered for by parents who are all stretched too thin and exhausted...for me, in this season of my life, my home is my mission field...the place where we believe God would have me be entrenched daily and attending to the blessings He's given...the rest can wait...there will be time, years from now, when the little ones are little no more, for me to contribute in ways that I can't possibly do now...but the world (even the church world) doesn't understand this and we have to be willing to know that and just accept that people won't understand...that was EXTREMELY hard for me to do...Also,I am a homebody that in order for our household to run smoothly and everyone not be at each other's throats, I have to be HERE...some people can be gone from home and still maintain order...I'm not one of those!

Tabitha said...

Yup, we just have to do our best and let God fill in the rest--Amen to that!!
Now that we have a newborn, I'm "taking a break" from church responsibilities and it feels weird to "just" be at church, not "doing" anything. I'm trying to enjoy this season with my baby and son and not stress over the lack of doing--it's hard! But I'm learning that God is pleased with me regardless!

Julie said...

Don't worry about it girl. You are only one person. I only signed my kids up to work this year. I am a very evil mother.