Don't worry, this is a totally G-rated post! When I graduated college way too many years ago, actress Mary McDonnell was our Commencement Speaker. She was an Alum to our school, so it made it very exciting. As a young 22 year old, I remember sitting in the audience listening and hearing how she was encouraging everyone to work with children (not kids as my late Father-In-Law would say… kids are goats after all). You would get the most fulfillment with having children in your life. I'm sure she said other poignant things around that, but this is what I remember.
Fast forward to now. My kids (yes, I said it, sorry Bob) are my world. Prior to 2020's pandemic, I found ways to be actively engaged in their extra curricular activities. With my son, I luckily completed my/our time with Cub Scouts. Thank goodness. I know I would have been personally devastated if that didn't come as planned! Sorry, I'm getting off track.
Back to Mary's commencement speech. Being actively involved with our kids is always my priority. It brings me joy. It brings me a sense of wonder, a feeling of pride when I see these humans I raised doing "whatever". But it's also brings me to a huge sense of obligation… I know this is not what Mary meant in her speech. But remember, different times!
I remember listening to Mary's speech and thinking about an idlic life. I couldn't picture it then. As I've gone through and throughly enjoyed everything while raising the smaller humans, I was also exhausted. Throughly exhausted. Being a working mom, I went from someone in the present to someone being able to check the to-do list. Thank goodness for the pictures. That's what helps me remember the moments crystal clear.
So where was the shift? These words of wisdom I've carried for 20+ years were not said so I could run myself down. Right? Of course not!
As I've explored my inner self during these months through my coaching certification, I was working with a client and she said "Participation doesn't always mean purpose." It's the wake up call I needed. Participation DOESN'T mean purpose. That was a hard one to swallow for a few days.
Was that what I've done? Likely. From the moment I gave birth to my daughter, everything was about her (as it should be!), but as a Momma Bear, I had to be there. We're not talking helicopter-mom-like, but I wanted, maybe even needed, to be present. Insert working-mom guilt, insert missed firsts (that my husband likely got to see!), and you got me… the one person who literally would do anything, to be where I was for work and my family. Some days, common sense prevailed while other times, my 90 minute commute each way would get the best of me and I'd spend more time in the car than the office. Thank goodness for an amazing boss/mentor who gave me the flexibility to be who I needed to be.
So during this pandemic time when we've all sat back and looked at our priorities, I've questioned what I've done as purpose versus participation. Luckily enough, most was purpose (Girl Scouts/Cub Scouts), but class parties or school sing-a-longs were probably participation. But I regret nothing.
Now my kids are older and we have very few things on our list of obligations, I can said I've been lucky to find purpose with a dog rescue group. We (my daughter and I) are part of the transport relay, driving an hour with a car-full of pups or adult dogs to bring them to adopters/fosters/partnering rescues. It's such a small contribution in the life of these animals, BUT it's also a critical piece for them. To come from questionable backgrounds, some horrible, some well-intentioned, some unavoidable, these pups are loved from the moment they get to our home shelter… and then on transport, are shown love from start until they get into the love arms of their adopters. As I type this, I have goosebumps thinking of our transport yesterday… a clear sign that I have found my mission. Find yours.