Two days ago I attended my very last parent council meeting, ever. Next week Maya will "graduate" from her elementary school and head off to middle school in September. Yep, she doesn't want to talk about it. I kinda don't want to talk about it either, because with her leaving, that means I have to leave as well and I am not going to lie, it's a bit of a hard pill to swallow.
I was trying to explain to Abby the other night why I found this transition such an emotional one. I mean I already proved I can survive a child transitioning to middle school, so what's the big deal? I was bumbling my way through an explanation when Mike piped up to hit the nail on the head, "It's where your mother found her voice." And I may have gotten a little weepy because he is 100% right. Really, can you be more right? If so then he's that. So right.
A casual acquaintance suggested that I come out to a council meeting back when Abby was in her second year of kindergarten, that's 11 years ago for those keeping track at home. Let me tell you Shannon, 11 years ago and Shannon now are two completely different people. I'm not actually sure why I thought it was a good idea to go, but went I did. I was quiet as a church mouse back then, with a quiet little life and an incredibly tiny circle of friends.
Over the course of my years on council I held the positions of secretary and for the past 7 or 8 years as Chair or Co-Chair, depending on the year. Over that time I learned how to lead a meeting, take usable minutes, Robert's rules of order, even if we were pretty loosey goosey. I learned how to be organized, how to fundraise, how to organize a fundraiser, how to organize people to organize a fundraiser. I learned to delegate and to always value and respect people's time. I learned how to be a leader, to be encouraging and supportive. I learned that people want to be heard, acknowledged and appreciated. I learned that a difference in opinion is not an attack. That you can still be friends, but see things from completely opposite sides. I learned how to voice my own opinion and that it had value. I learned all of these things and I continue to learn all of these things because I am far from perfect at any of it.
And I made friends, guys. I made such terrific and amazing friends. Some who were teachers, Principals and fellow parents. Friends I have shared a few tears, a lot of laughs, drinks, meals, quick chats, long talks, text messages, GIFs, massive thumbs up and the #rubelife with. Friends who have picked up my kids or who have allowed me to watch and feed their little ones. Friends who have employed my kid as a babysitter, invited us to parties, movie nights, and a bunch more fun things.
My attending that first meeting was a true tipping point in my life.Without that first meeting, Jammie Movie Nights wouldn't have been a thing and without that there would be no Jersey Girls. No endless hours of walking, bonding and none of the over $50,000 that we have donated to cancer research, medical equipment and programs over the years. I wouldn't be involved with the organizations that I am and certainly not in the positions I now find myself in. I wouldn't be leading youth with really great friends. I wouldn't be helping plan community events. I would've missed out on countless coffee dates, lunch dates, backyard wine sipping and a bazillion other super fun things.
As we wound up my very last meeting the other afternoon some very sweet things were said about my time on council and I did my very best to not become a weepy mess as I listened. While their kind words were about the mark I have left during my time at the school, I was completely wrapped up in the mark that time has left on me. The people and experiences it has brought to my life. My take away from it is to always choose kind, be helpful, take a small second to really listen, because you have no idea what impact you are having on another human being, what encouragement you are sharing, that you might be a cheerleader without even realizing it. I found a community and a version of myself I was not expecting to find and I thank them all from the very bottom of my heart for such an amazing gift. Much love.