My name is June Carol Clair. And I have Volunteer Guilt.

My favorite volunteer job at my kids’ school is at the library. I get a little glimpse of my kids at school but the best part is pretending to be a school librarian. I love to check in books and check out books and make little comments to the third graders and Kindergarteners “Wow! 3 books about cars! Or an admonishing, “did you look for the overdue Junie B. Jones book at home? Remember it next time!” I love to shelve books and get sidetracked when I discover an old favorite. I love helping little ones find a book, and I love talking shop with the school librarian.

I hate volunteering in the cafeteria. I’ve volunteered twice because I have a soft spot for the mom in charge of the cafeteria volunteers- she is a food allergy mom like me and looks out for everyone and is a hard worker. The cafeteria slot is not glamorous. It is noisy. It is messy. Talk about a glimpse into your kids’ lives: It is a glimpse you don’t want. The first time I volunteered in the cafeteria a child cried at each time slot. I slipped on a piece of Caesar salad and fell to the floor in front of a class of first graders. When I went home that night, I went to bed at 7:30 pm and tried to forget it.

I volunteer as a Brownie leader. I wanted my daughter to be a Brownie so that she could be led by a Wellesley College-educated lawyer who would instill girl power instead of organizing craft projects. The Wellesley College-educated lawyer’s troop was full. She convinced me to start my own troop. Three years later, I am leading a group of 13 third grade girls and teaching them lessons about life while earning badges. While sewing buttons: “When you live in New York City in your own apartment, you won’t have your mother to sew a button for you. This will be a good thing to learn.” While making sunflowers out of Model Magic for our Kansas booth at the National Girl Scout Fair: “If you’d listened to me tell you how to do the project instead of trying to figure it out yourself you wouldn’t be doing it wrong and having to ask a million questions.”

I’m tired of being a Brownie leader. I love working with the girls, but there is too much paperwork and training and meetings and general admin involved in being a Brownie leader. I don’t want to volunteer in the cafeteria again this year. I am still recovering from the last two times.

And i really don’t want anything to do with the school auction. There aren’t any kids (directly) involved. There’s a lot of admin. I’m using hours and hours of my billable time on volunteer work, which I can’t really afford to do right now. But I keep saying yes.

Part of it is truly wanting to give back, but part of it is the guilt. I know I can take on more, so I do. I also feel guilty about not helping, because we are all busy. Yes, some are busier than others but not all of us can handle the same workload. I read in Real Simple : “give a busy person a task to do and they’ll get it done.” It’s true.

I feel guilty that I am not teaching CCD when I know there is a teacher shortage. (We want our kids to have religious education- someone needs to teach them). I feel guilty that my Brownie troop may have to disband because we have so many full time working moms in our troop that aren’t willing or able to take it over. And I feel guilty saying, “I don’t have time to do that.” because no one really has time. And I am saying I don’t have time to people who have less free time than I do.

I won’t do the school auction next year. I am sticking to the library, because I love it so. And I am still not sure what to do about my Brownies.

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