For better or worse, I’ve always been that person who reluctantly raises her hand when someone asks, “Can anyone do this? Anyone? Anyone?” Sure, I’ll look around, pretend I’m suddenly very distracted by my search for lip balm, but ultimately, after listening to the unbearable sounds of silence, will say, “Okay, I will.” I guess I’ve always felt like someone has to volunteer and if it’s not me, than who?
But it means that I often say yes, when I should have said no. It means that I walk away thinking, “Oh no, what have I signed on for?” Thing is, any stress I feel over new responsibility is infinitely better than the guilt I’m wracked with when I turn something down.
My 3-year-old twins have been at their school for almost two years now, so I know the place and I know the people. I’ve wanted to get involved in some way, on some committee or another. I think I should. I mean, the school is walking distance from my house and I work from home, which means my schedule is flexible and I’m very accessible.
More important though, the school takes very good care of my very active boys who, I know, can be a handful. Plus, I think my kids eat way more than their allotted portion of fruit during snack time. I’m very grateful to them. I owe them, big time.
So, at parent’s night, as we were all crouched together on tiny chairs that miraculously hold our adult weight, I volunteered to be class parent. In fairness, it wasn’t some big, noble, Norma Rae kind of moment. They asked the room, and when no one volunteered, they said something like, “Well, okay, you can give it some thought and get back to us later.” Oy, the guilt. The guilt.
The school is super chill, so I knew it probably wouldn’t be a lot of work. I’d probably just be the messenger between the parents and the teachers, who I love talking to anyway. So after the meeting, when it looked like everyone had cleared out, I told one of the teachers that if no one else volunteered, I could do it. Apparently, no one else had volunteered.
I was told that it would be pretty easy. Like maybe I send around an email to remind the other parents when we don’t have school. Or discuss what we’re going to do about Christmas gifts for the teachers. I always have random questions for the teachers so, maybe, I can just distill any of the important information. No biggie.
With Halloween last week, I realized that maybe I should send around an email to the parents to let them know that their kids should wear their costumes. Easy enough. But when I mentioned it to my mom, who had been a PTA President, she started asking if I was bringing cupcakes, if I was bringing candy, would there be trick-or-treating at school, what had I planned? What had I planned? Why would I plan something? What am I missing?
Then, later that day, a friend of mine with older kids was telling me about one of her room mom responsibilities, which involved setting up for a Halloween party at school and organizing volunteers. Wait, wait, wait…was I supposed to be doing stuff like that? Wouldn’t someone have told me if I needed to be doing stuff like that?
So, I got a little worried. What had I signed on for? Was I setting myself up for a lifetime of bake sales and food drives and Pinterest-inspired class parties? I don’t want to be one of those hyper-vigilant, hyper-obsessive parents who send mass emails every week, and scold other Moms about being late for pick-up. I AM the Mom who’s late for pick-up! I never ran for class president. I’m not a joiner. I’m not a self-starter. Please, dear God, don’t let me become some 30-something version of Tracy Flick.
I found myself rereading my Halloween email to be sure it didn’t sound bossy or over-eager or self-important. I mean, I didn’t care if their kids wore their costumes. Most of the parents already knew anyway. I just didn’t want a parent showing up with their kid in boring old cargo pants and say, “What?! You mean he could have been Captain America today? NO ONE TOLD ME!” A few moms actually thanked me for the email, which made me feel better about sending it to begin with.
For now, I’m not going to panic. No, I’m not exactly sure what’s expected of me, but I’m hoping it’s not much. Whatever the school asks of me though, I will do. I can do this. I’m also assuming the other parents are pretty laid-back themselves because, if any of them had big, lofty goals for our 3-year-olds’ preschool year, they probably would have volunteered themselves.
So, here I am, class Mom. Someone had to do it, and it might as well be me. Sure, maybe I’m taking a more libertarian approach, but wouldn’t most people prefer that to the power-hungry Mommy who keeps reminding everyone to clean out their kids’ cubbies? I think so. Or, at least, I really hope so.