I did something today that I had been putting off for awhile now.
I sent a letter (e-mail) to our support group, tendering my & dh's resignation as volunteer facilitators. Our last day facilitating won't be until mid-December -- that's six months for them to find a replacement(s). But the date has been set. The new year will truly be a new beginning in this respect for dh & me.
Dh & I have been mulling over our future with the group for some time. Dh has been quite adamant for awhile now that he didn't want to facilitate anymore, past the end of this year. Ironically, he was initially even more keen than I was to become a facilitator -- and, as one of the few male volunteers with the organization, I can tell you they have loved having him. Our particular group has always had a higher number of dads attending than the other groups, and we know it's because they know another guy (i.e., dh) will be there too.
I could tell he'd lost interest awhile ago (although he's always perfectly charming to our clients). He's been saying he feels he's being "held back" & wants to "move on." What can I say? If that's how he feels, then he probably shouldn't be there anymore. We're giving the organization six months to find a replacement(s) -- I think that's fair.
I could probably keep doing it for awhile. Probably. Why don't I? For one thing, I have tranportation issues: I don't drive (that far, anyway), & if I were to ask dh to drive me there & then come back two hours later to pick me up, he might as well just keep doing it himself, know what I mean?
For another, group night is Thursday -- which, where I work, is the night most office social functions are held. My department doesn't go out together that often -- and group is only held two Thursday nights during the month -- but inevitably, office social events seem to fall on a group night. Of course, sometimes, both dh & I are grateful for the excuse of a "prior commitment," but there have been times we really would have liked to go. I have missed many office Christmas parties over the past 10 years, & just last night, dh missed out on joining his colleagues for an expensive steak dinner, paid for by one of their suppliers. There have been other times (in the winter) when the weather has suddenly turned ugly on a Thursday afternoon, & we've had to scramble to consult our managers about whether to cancel the meeting, & then contact all of our clients. Or drive on icy roads through pelting snow to get there on time (only to have nobody show up). I won't miss that kind of stress.
For another thing, while I love having a (real-life) place to go where I can talk freely about my daughter, & be among "my own kind" (other bereaved moms & dads), the clients keep getting younger & younger -- & I'm starting to feel decidedly old. And while I know my stories are new to them, I do sometimes feel like a broken record, reciting the same old tales over & over again. I knew it might be time to leave when I found myself grinding my teeth, listening to two moms in their early 30s moaning about how LONG it was taking them to get pregnant again (they'd both gotten pregnant before right away, but had now been trying about four months)(!!).
While I find it difficult to contemplate making the break, I do feel like I could use "a" break. It's not a huge time commitment, but it does require an investment of time, and most certainly emotion. I've heard dozens & dozens of sad stories, & it does sometimes leave you feeling a little limp at the end of a particularly emotional session. We've been part of this group for almost 11 years, if you count our time as clients, & have been facilitating for 10. I can only think of one other facilitator in the organization who has been around as long as we have. Sometimes, it's just time for someone else to take on the responsibility.
I'm reminded of my 8-year membership in a lunchtime workplace Toastmasters Club, back in the early 1990s. Toastmasters was a fabulous experience (I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to develop or polish their public speaking and presentation skills). Eventually, I held several different positions on the executive, including club president. When I got pregnant with Katie, I announced it to the club via a Table Topic, & everyone was thrilled for me. When Katie was stillborn, two of my Toastmasters friends sent me sympathy cards.
When I returned to work, I did not return to Toastmasters. One day I ran into one of my former clubmates, an older woman. We got talking about why I hadn't returned & she said, "I think I know why... it's because of your baby, isn't it? It must be so hard to see people again after something like that." I was touched by her perceptiveness. I said that yes, that was part of it.
But there was more to it that that. I had enjoyed my experience with Toastmasters & was grateful for what I had learned & the people I had met there... but as membership in the club dwindled, it was the same handful of longtime active members who got stuck with doing everything -- including me. I was tired of always being the go-to person, the person people could count on to drop everything & fill in at a moment's notice. I needed a break, & I felt like my time away from work had given me that opportunity.
We have had co-facilitators for most of the time we've been volunteering, which helps. At the moment, the woman we co-facilitate the group with is taking a break of her own for a couple of months -- she'll be back this summer, but I know that she too is contemplating moving on soon, which was another reason for dh & I to think about our own plans . She's a great facilitator, and she's also become a great friend. Not seeing her regularly will be one of the hardest parts about leaving -- although I know we will continue to see her, and other friends, at special events like the organization's annual picnic & butterfly release (which is coming up in June).
I'll always be immensely grateful for everything this organization has given dh & me. It's a little scary to think of not attending group for the first time in 11 (!!) years. But it will continue to be part of our life. Just in a different way. Just like Katie herself.