The Small Ways You Touch the World

I struggle with a lot of self-doubt around whether I do enough. One area of my life where this trait comes out the loudest is at my kids’ school.

As a working mom who is self-employed, I have a lot more flexibility than moms who have traditional jobs. I still have goals and deadlines, but they are of my own making. That means I can offer my time helping with my kids’ school events without having to ask for extensions or time off, and without asking my co-workers to cover for me. But I still care about my goals! It is still a major loss of productivity when I am doing something for their school during school hours when I’m supposed to be working!

I can’t be the PTO President. I can’t be the room mom. Hell, I can’t even be a semi-regular volunteer. And for the sake of total honesty, let me be very clear about something: I don’t want to. It took me a long time to finally embrace that fact.

I do the things I can to help the kids’ teachers. I try to be conscientious and considerate. I volunteer time when I can, and if I don’t have time to give, I give money instead. But I’m always comparing myself to the other moms who do more. It often feels like I’m not pulling my weight.

A few days ago, while dropping off my Preschool-aged daughter at car line, I noticed one of her teachers running toward my car, waving me down. I rolled down the window as she shouted, “Thank you SO MUCH for all you do!!!” Car line was moving quickly and we were not supposed to hold up the line, so I drove off wondering what she possibly could have meant.

When I arrived back at car line at the end of the day, the teacher came back out to greet me. What she said caught me completely off guard.

My daughter goes to ballet every Tuesday after school. The ballet class is offered through her preschool and the classes take place at the school. It’s the teacher’s job to get the girls into their tights and leotards before class. As we all know, getting wiggly little girls into tights can be a disaster. So, I had made the habit of putting my daughter in her tights every Tuesday as part of her outfit. At least that way the teachers only had to fuss with her leotard. This is what the teacher was so exuberantly thanking me for.

I don’t volunteer to chaperone field trips, don’t organize class activities, don’t come assist in the classroom. I don’t do any of the things that the more involved parents do — the parents I’m always comparing myself to. But all along, I had been contributing in my own way. I had made a difference, however small, and that difference was felt.

We tend to focus on the big ways we touch the world, but forget about all the small ways we make a difference. We don’t see how often we make someone’s day, how often our small touches change lives. When you’re feeling down on ourselves, it’s important to remember that you have a bigger impact than you think.

You are doing enough. You are enough.

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