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Totally crying today. It’s only a little to do with the house hunt—which has driven me to stress headaches and gagging fits over a toilet. Self-reflective as I am, when I feel any emotion deeply, I often stop to figure out what’s behind it. “When’s the first time you remember feeling this way?” I go to the source. Though today, I’m unable to wind my way down that back road. Instead, I’ve taken the express route to Texas, specifically a therapy session I had with a shrink.
It was one of those couples therapy sessions where Phil refused to show up. I went alone, and I remember telling the therapist about a specific joy I’d experienced that week. Only it wasn’t an out loud joy, like a great story you’d retell about something funny that happened. It was a quieter joy, the kind that crept up on me. I began to tell her, for no reason at all that I can remember, about how the beans played in my closet, the way they created a pile of clothes on the floor and jumped in it as if they were mountains of leaves. And when I told her, I began to cry.
“What’s that?” she said. “Stay with that emotion and tell me what’s going on.” I told her that it was a bittersweet joy, thrilling in the smaller moments, knowing they won’t always be this age, that I was crying because I knew profoundly that they’d only ever be this age once, and that I was blessed not only to experience it but to realize it in the present instead of retrospectively. Time sweeping past with little treasured moments, in focus. But the truth is, I felt pressured to answer my therapist just then. I had no idea what I was feeling. I just told her what I thought it might be. Maybe I was just overwhelmed or hormonal.
It’s the last time I can remember feeling this way, the way I feel today.
Last week, I had just about zero idea of what I’d be doing with my Girl Scout Troop. My co-leader wouldn’t be able to make the meeting; I’d be on my own. The meeting was later that night, and still I had no plan, and I’d already promised a friend I’d spend the afternoon helping her choose flooring and paint colors for her new home. “I need your eye and value your opinion, please, please, please.” It’s a joy for me to do those things, and she’s one of my best friends, so of course! But what had I stepped in? The house needed paper cups, toilet paper, eggs, bread, milk, dinner ingredients for that night. I needed to run to BJ’s or Costco, and there was still this matter of the Troop meeting later that day. I needed time to formulate a plan and buy any necessary materials.
I showered, ran the errands whilst planning the meeting in my mind, then zipped to the carpet and flooring store and helped my friend choose her wide-plank floors, narrow down a living room carpet among hundreds of samples, race back to her home to sift through the many options of Benjamin Moore griege. Book it back home in time for the kids’ bus, feed them snack, supervise with the homework, and prepare lamb chops over carrots and potatoes. And, holy balls, pull a Girl Scout meeting out of my arse.
In all, the lamb chops were skipped and unjoyed the following night, when I overcooked them, and no one wanted to eat them. But the Girl Scout meeting was a success. Beforehand I printed my and Abigail’s family tree off ancestry.com, and decided I’d teach the girls about ancestry and heirlooms and heritage, while having the girls create their own family trees, complete with descriptions about each person. Their homework? To come into our next meeting with a presentation about their family heritage, along with a grand potluck, each girl bringing a dish that represents her family’s origin.
Yesterday, I received an email from a friend whose daughter is in our troop. Apparently on the night of our scheduled potluck, there is a welcome to kindergarten event, planned smack during our meeting time and location. And when was anyone going to tell me about this? Had my friend not forwarded me the details (since she has a little one starting kinder), we’d be shit outta potluck. WHY? Why do I do this?
Then today, I received this:
Subject: Stephanie to be honored!
To: All the emails of the parents of my troop
From: The Jericho/Syosset Girl Scout Association Committee
We are excited to let you know that Stephanie Klein will receive the Volunteer Appreciation Award at the 2015 Bridging and Awards Ceremony on Sunday, June 14th at 3pm at the Farm at Oyster Bay. As members of her troop, we hope you can come celebrate her dedication to the girls. Please respond using the link below to let us know if you’ll be attending.
And then another from my Co-Leader to all the parents of my troop:
I agree!! I hope everyone will be able to make it!
Stephanie is our fearless troop leader and without her dedication and energy, ideas and wits (I know I won’t be able to run a meeting cold turkey like she can!), we won’t have a troop! It’s a thankless job so let’s take a moment out of busy lives and show our support!
And another from a parent in the troop:
It’s the truth! Outsiders don’t understand the time and thought that goes into any volunteer position. Especially a troop leader!!
Congratulations! We are so proud of you. You deserve it. You really set a true good leader role in front of our girls. I can see our girls learning a lot from you. Thank you for providing the wonderful opportunity to our girls.
The tears came, they still come as I write this. And maybe, like it was that day on my therapist’s sofa, it is an overwhelming feeling of exhaustion, a mingle of gratitude and attitude, of joy and resentment, but in the end knowing, deeply, that I matter, that what I do makes a difference. That I see it, and maybe someone else will see it, feel it, benefit from it. It’s not exactly validation, because there were no accolades that day in the closet. You know what it is? Pride. I feel proud of what I do, as small and trivial as it might seem to others like Phil. I can just hear him belittle it all now, “Yeah, that’s great, and how much money do you make doing it? Exactly.” And maybe the tears come a little bit from there, too.