Those that know me well know that I'm pretty tenacious when it comes to fulfilling my commitments. Even when the "writing is on the wall" (in giant black sharpie marker) I'm very hesitant to quit anything-jobs, relationships, volunteer commitments-anything. I'm not a quitter. I was raised to fulfill my obligations. To me, quitting is defeat, failure, a proverbial mark on my character. I hope that I am instilling this same "never quit" attitude in my daughter as well as other people that I influence (if there are any).
But sometimes we have to quit because it's the right thing to do.
And I have.
And it is painful.
And it is defeating.
And in the end, it is for the best.
And I hope that my daughter and others learn from this, too.
Whether it's a job, a relationship or a volunteer commitment, sometimes the best thing for everyone is to back away-resign, leave. To quit. And there is, perhaps, an even better example to be set in quitting.
Do we want our children to learn the lesson that the job that makes us ill is worth keeping? That the relationship that is causing us to loose who we truly are worth staying in? That the volunteer opportunity we signed up for is not as rewarding as we thought because it taking too much time away from our family?
So I quit. We quit. We left Dancing with the Community Stars. As a couple, but more importantly: As a family.
Due to scheduling and travel distance, it was taking over 6 hours of our Sunday. Like most families, because of custody agreements, busy schedules with extracurricular activities, work schedules and just life, Sunday was the only full day that we had as a family without pre-scheduled obligations. We thought we could give it away to a worthy cause for 9 months. But 3 months in, we realized we were sacrificing far more than our time. We were sacrificing our family. Our children. And even our happiness.
Initially, our kids were excited about our participation. (Ok, it was more like amused and horrified at the thought of us dancing in public, but you get the idea) We are a community service-oriented family and work hard to instill in our children an attitude of helping others. But other than assisting us with upcoming fundraising events, they really could not participate with us-as a family.
Each "family weekend" both children would show up at our house with a week's worth of things they wanted to do during our time together-however, due to our DWTCS commitment, we generally had just a few hours on Saturday to fit as much in as possible. For three months there was far more "no, we don't have time this weekend" than "yes, that will be fun".
Then Christmas happened. Or more like it almost didn't happen. At least not the way any of us would have preferred. And that was not okay with any of us. Sunday after Christmas we sat and had our usual Sunday breakfast as a family. Although, since our DWTCS venture started, it usually was Joe and the kids while I was getting ready to leave the house. But not this day. I sat at the table with them like I used to. And we talked, as a family, about the commitment and how it was impacting our family time. We discussed pros and cons of staying committed to our volunteer obligation vs our obligation to our family. Both kids provided great insight. We agreed, as a family, to quit. And it was okay.
But we didn't choose to quit entirely. We will still participate, as a family, by assisting with the fundraising, which is the whole point of DWTCS anyway!
What lessons did we teach our children? First and foremost-that they are first and foremost in our lives. Second-that despite the fact that occasionally we have to remind them who the "bosses" are :-) , that they do have a voice in how we run our family. Third-that quitting sometimes IS okay. Finally, that quitting does not have to be an "all or nothing" proposition. You can quit, but still find a way to meet your obligations. As a family