Be kind and do good. Karma’s a bitch if you don’t.
I am fortunate. I am in good health. I have food and shelter. I have love and a community. I need to serve others to remind myself to feel fortunate because the fortunate sometimes forget they have it good.
I’ve always believed in the importance of volunteering and raising money for people in need. My first real volunteer opportunity, at least that I remember, was canvassing for The Humane Society. I was in grade five, or thereabouts, and I went with my best friend. She was working on a badge for Guides, and I was going along for the moral support.
I gave up canvassing until my thirties because of the man on Balsam Street. His home was across the street from our elementary school, and he was old. Likely, ironically, he was in his fifties because that was our definition of old when we were ten. He said he would donate if we came in for a cookie. We knew nothing of predators or paedophiles, but we knew enough that he gave us the creeps. We thanked him and backed away from the door. I stuck to Unicef at Halloween after that until I was an adult.
Volunteering runs through my veins, but I never stop to survey the situation and determine if this particular moment is a good fit. I say yes when the opportunity presents itself.
The Food Bank though checked all the boxes I didn’t even know I had.
There is need everywhere, but to be the most effective, you need to find your place. The volunteer opportunity I need is the one that fills my bucket and someone else’s bucket. I didn’t even know I was searching to fill a void I had after leaving the workforce to raise our children.
The immediate gratification is what I crave. The satisfaction of knowing I helped is not enough. I need to see the happy faces.
I suspect it is from years of being a mum at home. I went from a hectic career where I felt appreciated for my work, to searching for praise in the eyes of our spawn to only find they needed a nap or a snack. It has been more than sixteen years since I felt appreciated the way I need to be for the contributions of my day or even felt worthy of praise.
At home, it is hard to feel you deserve thanks for diaper changes, grocery shopping, and planning and making dinner. Those seem like tasks you can outsource. It is not particularly mind-bending work, but our society still does not appreciate it the way I feel we should. Damn, we are sacrificing parts of ourselves to make great adults. That deserves a medal of honour!
I watch our teenagers. They no longer want your guidance, crave your attention, need you to make them into better people or ask your advice. They get that from their friends, and we hope they’ve selected wisely. I’d like to say that seeing our amazing young adults is all the praise I need, but that would be wrong. It will be years or decades before they recognise my contribution to their lives. I hope there will be a time when I get the thanks I deserve for putting up with their crap, figuratively and literally. But a mother can never count on it.
That doesn’t mean I have to go unappreciated for all that I have to offer. Cue the Food Bank. The work wasn’t challenging, but it was physical and satisfying, and it didn’t take away from time I could spend with my family. But here’s why I think this is my cause. Other people thanked me for feeding them. I can see the gratitude on the faces of children helping to carry the bags of their much-needed groceries and diapers. Dammit if this is not what I’ve been waiting for the better part of two decades!
To my kids, as long as I am getting thanks for serving others, you are off the hook. But that feeling is temporary. When you have kids of your own and learn the sacrifices I made for you; I expect a fucking parade!
My Turning 50 Like a Boss Tip: If we help each other, it only helps ourselves.
Check out the video: Feeling Good Feeding