A month or so ago, I received a phone call that I have been thinking about ever since. It was from another mom at the preschool wondering why she had to volunteer and do fund-raising. I explained to her how our preschool is a cooperative preschool and relies on the parents to help out with many things to keep it running smoothly and to keep tuition costs low, as we get no money from the state. She was a little bit worked up about the whole thing--I could tell because she was doing the same things that I do when I am having a conversation I am worked up about, like talking fast with a shaky voice--and kept insisting that she was much too busy to have to volunteer, and besides she brought snack and wasn't that enough?
During the course of our conversation, I found out that the reason she is so busy is because not only does she have her preschooler, she has a baby, too. And that was it. And even as I was trying to sympathize with her, I felt like screaming that not only do I have my preschooler, but I also have two other children, a part-time job, a church calling and a position on the preschool board and I still managed to volunteer for the fundraising activities, so surely she could find a few hours to do so herself.
But she couldn't, and she ended up buying out of the volunteer time. Which is fine. I don't buy out because I don't have the extra money, and I figure that what I do have is time. So I volunteer. And mostly, I don't mind helping out. It makes me feel good and gives me a chance to know what's going on at school with my daughter, and even have a say in it.
But I haven't been able to get that conversation out of my head. My reaction didn't sit well with me, although it has been tough to see just how many preschool parents are unwilling to help out and that it is the same people time and time again doing all of the work. But that certainly doesn't make one parent better than the other, it just means we have different feelings about how we choose to spend our time and our money.
Shortly after this conversation (like the next day), was General Conference. And President Uchtdorf spoke directly to me when he said,
“If life and its rushed pace and many stresses have made it difficult for you to feel like rejoicing, then perhaps now is a good time to refocus on what matters most.”And I thought about how maybe the other mom from preschool was actually the one who had it right. It's been a little more than a month now, and I think I have been fairly successful in refocusing my efforts where they must be. There are still many, many things to do and many, many choices to be made and some must be done, much as I wish they didn't. But there are plenty of other things that really can be left for another time, things that someone else can do right now and things that I don't even need in my life and I think that I am finally learning the difference.
For the rest of the month I want to literally focus (with my camera) on those things here on this blog. Ironically, I don't know that I will find the time to do so, but I will certainly try.
PS President Uchtdorf's talk is the one Stephanie is focusing on this week over at her General Conference Book Club.