November 12, 2013

Some thoughts on volunteering

Every so often I laugh at myself. (Ok, in all honesty I do it a lot.) Here I am, trying to make it as a horror/sci-fi writer, and my blog posts are so often about my family and friends and the random stuff that happens in life. Ah well. If you've come here for blood and guts and gore, try one of my books instead please.

Tee hee.

Anyway, this thought was too long for a Facebook post or a Tweet, so I had to come here to share it. Hi blogging world!

Here's the thing...

I spend about an hour a week at Zoe's school. I go down to her classroom, pull aside a few kids, and play games with them. That's it.

Sure, the games are all letter-recognition- and sight-word-related, but really, that's it. My volunteer role involves playing games. 

And the thing is...I love it. I love it so much. Like, really, really, REALLY love it. I'm working with the children who are struggling a bit, but every week I get to see some growth. A month ago we couldn't have done anything with sight words...we were just working on knowing A is A and B is B!! Today they were reading words like "the" and "up" and "can," and it was amazing.

I worked with three little girls for the first 15 minutes of "center time," and when it was time to switch centers, all three of them begged to stay with me! All to practice sight words.

Kind of crazy.

So then, as part of my volunteering, I help them all get ready for lunch, walk with them to the cafeteria, and hang out with Zoe while she eats. Then I'm done.

But before I go, I get to say goodbye to all my little babies. Some of them come over and hug me. Some high-five. Others fist-bump. But all of them wave as I walk away, and all of them call, "Goodbye! Goodbye!" Just like they're the Munchkins from The Wizard of Oz.

It's really quite possibly the best hour of my week. I feel helpful, I feel worthy, and I feel loved.

It's funny. As a writer, I spend an inordinate amount of time doubting myself. "Is this story any good?" "Am I where I think I should be in my career?" "Will my books ever amount to anything?"

And as a mom and a wife and I daughter, I'm plagued by similar doubts. "Am I good enough?" "Do I say 'I love you' enough?" "Is my house as clean as it should be?"

Stupid, stupid stuff, I'm sure, but those are my issues plain and simple and I worry about them all the time.

Except for during that one hour every week. For that hour, I know I'm doing the best I can, and I'm making tiny little impacts on tiny little lives, and I wouldn't trade that hour for anything in the world.

So if you're like me....plagued with doubts and fears and worries that you'll never be good enough...go find a place to volunteer. Even if it's just for an hour a week. I promise you, that hour will make a difference.

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