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What are your roles?

I mentioned this in my previous GOALS post but, as usually happens, I have started to think more about it and thought I'd expand. . .what are your roles? I already have some defined roles in my life and although New Year's resolutions are good, if they take away time and/or energy from roles you already have then they can be bad. I know this first-hand so that is why I was careful this year to spread my goals out a bit. Browsing other blogs' 2009 "best of" posts I kind of feel like an under-achiever because I don't know if I accomplished that much last year. But then I started thinking about the time I put into my family and the things we did together and I didn't feel like such a slacker. . .one look at 2009's calendar told me that I was BUSY. It is in my nature to always do better, do more, be better, be more efficient but I also know that I WILL NOT SACRIFICE what I already have to do so. Here is a look at some of my roles and how they define me:
Wife: It is important to me that I am available and present in my husband's life. We have different jobs, go different directions, and work together as a team to get everything done as parents. I make an effort to spend time with him at night though. . .and this means sacrificing the "me" time that I always so selfishly want. Not *every* night, but at least three nights if I can. I'd like to spend the time working on a project together, playing a game, etc. but mostly he wants to watch television (something I don't enjoy that much). The only television on our main level is in our bedroom so that forces me to go to bed with him. . .although sometimes I read a book or get on my laptop. . .for him it's important that I'm there.
Mother: This is such a blessed role for me. Now that all my children are in school the "constant" need for me is gone, but it also means (to me) that when they are home, that I am present and available to them. In the last two years I've gotten comfortable -- and even come to rely on -- that time that they're in school. I've started playing tennis again. I can do my errands without 1-4 in tow. I can blog :) So. . .I need to be careful that I'm doing these things while they are gone so when they are home, I am with them. And if I add too many more things into my life then some of these things might bleed into the afternoons and weekends (as I found happened when I had a full-time sub job the month of August) and although someday when I am a working mom we'll have to adjust for that, since I'm home now I need to be HOME.
Laundress: This is a role I'm not willing to give up. I grew up with a mother that didn't allow anyone in her laundry room and I'm that way too. I really, really don't want anyone else to do it. It has something to do with attention to detail. . .no one else in this house would take care of the clothes the way I do. So it is a control-issue thing and something I bring on myself, but it's the only way I want it. Sheets and towels others can take care of. . .but everything else is self-appointed mine.
Main grocery shopper/meal planner: This is a role I don't like but is mine. Eleven years ago when I became a working mom I asked Tom to please take over meal planning/preparation 2-3 days a week. He HATED it. Even more than me. And he's a good cook. . .it's just that he really, really didn't enjoy any part of it. I can understand. . .there are things (like pumping gas) that I absolutely hate too and so I reluctantly took the role back. And I still have it. Here's the thing: I really like to cook -- I just don't like thinking up the ideas and don't like the shopping part. Tom is a picky, plain eater and so are the kids so cooking for them isn't FUN. They do not like to try new things and would rather have the same 10 meals in rotation. Serving frozen processed food is not an option for me so therein lies the time I have to/want to take to prepare meals and the energy to make decisions. This is NOT a "poor you. . .you have the money to buy food the place to prepare it in and the family to serve it to" paragraph. It's just one of those things. . .it's a role I have, a role I embrace and maybe herein lies my New Year's resolution: to have a better attitude about it! Serve my family as I was serving Jesus.
Student: I went back to grad school this year. It has taken me the better part of a decade to choose a path and actually make the commitment to do it. And some money was provided too so that helps :) When I take something on, I take it on. So being a good student is important to me. I do not want to waste our money to just "skate by". Not in my nature :) I took three classes last semester and will again this semester. The program I chose has to be completed in a certain amount of time per our state's standards so that is making me a little more committed (which is good!) to completing it quickly. This is something I have had to "fit in" to my life.
Employee: I work at our local YMCA in childcare. It is a great job!!! Right now I only work 1 night/week because it's flexible like that. I'm also available to fill in and most people know that and will call me to help out. I'm shying away from being too committed there because my 5-year plan does not include a career at the YMCA. But for now it works in my family life, pays for most of our family membership, discounts the sports we are involved in there (soccer and swimming), and pays for my children's extra-curriculars. I'm filling in a maternity leave in sports this January so I factored that in when I published my January goal -- it doesn't include a home-improvement project because of this time commitment.
Friend/volunteer: I am not the friend I used to be. I am not available like I used to be. When we moved 3 1/2 years ago I left a huge network of friends and that was hard. And then I had a hard time meeting people once we got here. I do have great friends (here and there!) but have also found that I don't have the time to commit to these friendships like I used to and I feel bad about that. I hope that I am a good friend to those I know. I hope that my friends know that I am available to listen and pray for them. I LOVE to keep up via blogs and Facebook. . .but the effort friendships take has taken a back-burner for now. It's my season of life and I am learning that you can't be "all things to all people". I do think there is time in my life for volunteering but it seems God hasn't put anything in our path and those things we seek out are just not right for us now. . .it's something I miss terribly but my eyes and ears are wide open!! There seems to be a culture of self-relience right now that says "I can do it, I don't need help" and that is taking the joy away from others who would like to be involved. Or maybe it's a control thing. . .no one can do it MY way, so I won't ask. I don't know. . .hoping 2010 will bring something out! And many times my husband says that I do too much already. . .hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. . .always looking for a way to help out, be Jesus' hands and feet.

So, what are YOUR roles? Can you define them? Can you realistically look and see how much time they take and how important they are to you? I encourage you to do this activity -- you're probably busier than you think. . .or maybe you'll find an empty space that you want to fill (and remember, DO NOT FILL EVERY EMPTY SPACE!!). . .but don't allow resolutions to take over something that is already important to you. That is what my calendar is for. . .a visual for me. . .anything highlighted is a Mommy Must-do (mostly work) and I do have other activities for myself scheduled, but they are not highlighted because those are negotiable. Schedule everything on a calendar so you don't say "yes" or "I can do" when that space is already full. Or maybe so you can say "Sure!" because you don't have a scheduled commitment. Some people write *everything* down and some, like me, just appointments and reminders. Whatever works for you, where you are in your season of life.


  1. Jenni, thanks for this blog! It gave me a lot to think about! You have inspired me to start a blog too! I think it's going to be a great outlet for me.

  2. I am going to do my "roles" post... this has given me something to think about! Instead of setting resolutions, I am going to work on my roles and how I can improve them.

    By the way, the best thing about your friendship is that I know I can call you anytime and we will pick up where we left off. And I know you are there for me... no matter what!

    Love you, Mel


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