A question was recently posed to me by a friend, which I’d never really given much thought.
“Don’t you ever just get tired of giving of yourself?” they asked. “I mean, don’t you ever just feel like you give and give until there’s nothing left for yourself?”
Admittedly, this is a profound question for me and until that moment I’d never really given it much thought. I only share it now, because I realize I am not alone in this journey and for each set of eyes that read these words the same questions could be posed.
My answer to these questions was both honest and simple. “I never really think about it,” I stated after some deep thought. “I mean, I just ‘do.’ I’m not really a ‘thinker’ I guess, as much as a ‘doer.’”
What I find most interesting is that A, this friend perceived me as someone always giving of themselves and B, just that morning I was beating myself up over how little time I have been able to make for people in my life recently.
It’s a complex juggling act we find ourselves in as we become ‘grown-ups’ with responsibilities and commitments. Aside from the holiday season, I would have to say summer is perhaps the best at throwing a wrench into the juggling act we manage to fine tune and somewhat perfect.
I have been blessed with an amazing and supportive family. Sadly, when the calendar of events, parties and vacations begins to runneth over our extended family is the one that seems to pay the price most.
As the kids and I begin to run from here to there only stopping to refuel and do some laundry, we start to miss our family. They still manage quality time with the grandparents (as they help with their care during summer). As for me, I seem to only manage a ‘hi’ and ‘bye’ in between work and our activity calendar.
I share all this as a confession of sorts to the theory of being perceived as ‘always giving.’ Truthfully, I spent my drive into work one morning tinkering with the thought of arranging a playdate for my duo so that I could maybe enjoy lunch or a movie (alone) with their ‘Memaw.’
My mother is just one of the many on my list I often wish I had more time to ‘give’ to. While, I realize for most the expectation is not there, I still think of it often. Friends I miss, loved ones put off so that we may make the most of summer time.
Recently I came to appreciate my mom and all she is to me now as an adult.
As my ‘To Do’ list grew for a pending camping trip with my duo, I’m pretty sure my stress level became more apparent to my mom. Knowing her daughter, she never stepped in and openly offered to take on a thing or two from my list. Being the quiet unassuming woman that she is, she quite simply offered to have the kids for a sleepover. Simple really, a sleepover midweek at the grandparents. That 24 hour period gave me the opportunity to hit that ‘To Do’ list at warp speed, sleep better and actually feel somewhat prepared the night before our departure.
That would also be right around the time I realized what makes a genuine and awesome ‘giver.’ The offer to take the kids did not come with an explanation of why it was necessary, how I ‘needed to let her,’ or even why I should rethink the pending trip. It was just presented as a fun opportunity for the kids to spend time with their grandparents.
Honestly, I never feel as if I’m always ‘giving.’ My life feels balanced. I step up when I feel needed. I reach out to a friend when they cross my mind. I enjoy going running on a regular basis, which feels like true uninterrupted ‘me’ time. I never feel burdened by all that makes up my life.
Now with that said, I do on occasion do a ‘reassess’ of sorts. When a volunteer opportunity or relationship begins to bring more pain, hurt or resentment - it’s truly time to re-evaluate.
Ironically as I search for the right words to wrap up this column I am haunted by the words on a paperweight located in the corner of my desk.
“It’s not the years in your life that count, it’s the life in your years.”
Pretty simple stuff, really. I have watched many ‘givers’ pass through my life, robbed of years with lives cut short by illness or accident. They were the ‘givers’ who best exemplify this quote.
Now, it is through inspiration derived from their lives, that I will continue to do my best at continuing to give. And…through the lesson from my mother, I will try and be less obvious as I do that.
Teresa Hammond is circulation manager for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.