Friday, July 30, 2010

I suck

As a Human Being, I'm not a bad guy. People in my community think, and sometimes say out loud that I'm a great guy with a big heart who gives a lot to those who ask for it. I will not deny that mostly that is true. I have a hard time saying 'no' to good causes and intentions. I am an idealist, and I recognize that. I always hope for the best and try to help with worthy or worthy sounding causes. Over the years I have become a bit more cautious about how much time I offer, and make it clear where my limitations are, but for the most part, everybody can get some time out of me if they ask nice.
But as a grown adult, with a home and children, elderly parents (3), car payments, bills, and mortgage....I suck. I spend more time helping people who need it than helping my own family. For instance, if I hear about a needy family that can't afford a lawn mower to cut their grass, well I happen to know an elderly gent that gets old lawn mowers from the dump and fixes them up to run like new. But he refuses to sell them. I tell him the story, he gives me a mower, and I deliver it and show them how to use it safely. They give me a glass of iced tea, and we call it even. They can cut their grass, the old man feels good, and so do I. We all move on. I get sucked into cooking for fundraiser dinners for groups I don't know, giving ambulance/firehouse tours to Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts, running first aid meets for the Boy Scouts, helping setup events for the Church I do not even belong to, and all sorts of things I forget as soon as they are over. It seems that I'll help anybody as long as I have a hole in my schedule when they need me.
And therein lies my problem. One of the things I do not put on my schedule is my home and family. I guess I figure that the family stuff will always be there and I can do them when I have time. The problem is that I do so much stuff for others that I never have time at home. The house is in poor shape, the dishwasher is broken (wife doing dishes by hand for a month now), clothes washer not working properly. If my son didn't have a landscaping business, I don't know when the lawn would get mowed.
Tonight, my wife put her foot down (it's about time) and told me 'no more volunteering until we get some of this stuff fixed around the house' and she started to list a bunch of the smaller tasks, overlooking the big stuff I know I need to get done. In her charming way of pointing out my minor shortcomings, she has reminded me of the bigger ones. She never mentioned the department commitment, knowing that the 20 hours a week I put in goes without saying and she is not counting that as 'volunteer time'.
I'm glad she brought it up tonight, because I was thinking that I had some free time this weekend and could bring together a quick classroom session for driver training for my newer members. I think I'll hold that thought for a couple of weeks. If I didn't have my wife to tell me when I've gone over the line I would have strayed very far by now. Sometimes it's better to be a follower than a leader.

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