As a parent I have certain expectations of…well…everything. Including the PTA.
As a member of the PTA I have (potentially too many) expectations of parents, teachers, principals, and the community.
There is a tension. A tension that tugs at me daily. It’s the tension between the part of my brain that reacts as a parent and the other part of my brain that reacts as the president of the PTA. I’m not claiming there is any sort of scientific evidence that there are different parts of my brain working here. It’s just that I often have two very different but parallel thoughts.
How can I possibly get what I want from the PTA as a parent and get from parents what I want as a member of the PTA? Seems impossible.
As a parent I want to just.be.left.alone (sometimes).
As a member of the PTA I want everyone to get involved now!!!
As a parent I want people – specifically the plethora of organizations in this small town – to stop asking me for money.
Memorandum # 7
To: All cats
Effective date: immediately
It has been brought to executive management’s attention that you have engaged in loud, hysterical meowing during the early morning hours. While we encourage all members of the faculty (i.e. family) to express themselves, we must insist – if not demand — quiet voices during sleeping hours.
Effective immediately loud meowing will be permitted between the hours of 8am and 8pm. Please refrain from meowing outside of these hours unless you are notifying management of a dangerous situation. Please note that dangerous situations do not include annoyance with the dog, a desire to be fed prior to 8am, or a demand to be let outside at any time.
If you must express yourself after 8pm and before 8am you are welcome to do so in the confines of the basement.
Failure to adhere to this new rule will be considered a violation of this memo. To understand what happens when you violate a memo please refer to Office Space.
We appreciate your assistance in this matter,
Executive Management (Jill & Josh)
Executive Management in training (Marlee and Lila Pearl)
P.S. We know you try to be extra cute when in trouble. Cuteness weighted against lack of sleep? You’re not going to win that one!
P-nut knows how to work his cuteness for maximum results. We are suspicious he has imparted this wisdom to the girls.
I was 5 months pregnant. My nesting instinct was raging. It made me want to do unexpected things. I created a baby and apparently this baby was going to change my life. First she took over my womb. Then she made me want to do things I never expected to do. Like knit.
With a round belly I waddled into the local knitting store and meekly asked “do you have classes?” My intent was to gather information. I walked out with a receipt that said “$40” on paper but said “life defining moment” in my heart.
The moment I declared, “I want to knit” I simultaneously realized, “this baby is going to teach me things I never imagined I could learn.”
I was stepping into a world that blends creativity and math – two of my least favorite things. Why in the world would I want to start a new hobby – one that I certainly wouldn’t like, and couldn’t do – just months before having a baby? My nesting instinct didn’t offer me a choice. It demanded I fulfill this need my baby created.
Before she was even born, Marlee pushed me out of my comfort zone into an unknown world.
Learning to knit was akin to learning to become a parent.
I learned to knit one stitch at a time. I learned to parent one step at a time. With both, I learn from my mistakes and move forward. Knitting taught me an important life lesson: be present.
Mother’s day is the holiday that most inspires me to scream obscenities at greeting card companies.
How can a single holiday make me want to tell an entire industry to fuck off? There are 4 reasons.
- Reliving heartbreak
I mostly hate mother’s day because of the flashbacks I have to when I was 17. Of the first mother’s day I spent without my mom. When everyone was celebrating and I was mourning. When I had to somehow simultaneously celebrate my (step)mom who was still alive (and I loved very much) while remembering my (biological) mom who died just months before.
There was no joy on that mother’s day. Only deep, penetrating sadness that I can’t shake 18 years later.
Great moms in my life together for my junior prom. A picture that would not otherwise be released!
I hate Mother’s Day because it always has an undertone of sadness.
I’m texting with Kim. Interrogating her about how she balances the demands of family, job, hobbies, friendships. We’ve talked about this a thousand times and I still think she’ll have the answer. She doesn’t.
Mostly I complain about my intense guilt. The guilt I feel when a friend who I love asks “when can we get together” and I respond “Ummm…I’m not sure” or someone says, “let’s have a play date” and I say “YES” when in my mind I’m thinking “Oh.my.god. when the heck do we have time for that?”
We start to joke about how much easier it would be if there was some set of friendship rules that dictate the parameters of friendships. Being in the tech industry I suggest the answer is a friendship service level agreement (SLA). She enthusiastically agrees. We brainstorm.
I exclaim, “this would be a great blog”. She enthusiastically agrees again. I must be on to something.
So here they are. Friendship SLAs as defined by an overworked, exhausted chic who apparently has time to blog but no time to answer the phone, return texts and emails, or agree to play dates, girls night’s out and other fun activities.
I sleepily glance at the clock.
FIVE TWENTY EIGHT?
I need to be at the shuttle at 5:36a.m. I hastily get dressed and gather my things. Elaine Bennis style.
I get to the airport with plenty of time to spare but the jolt hasn’t worn off. I feel rushed. Impatient.
I start peeling off my coat, shoes, belt. Head out of gutter, people! The TSA requires every person to remove said articles of clothing. A woman in front of me is with a flight attendant. She peppers him with questions:
“Do I have to take off my shoes? My sweater? Can I keep my cell phone? Did you see my ticket? Wait, my shoes have to come off? Where is my phone? Thank you so much for helping me.”
As our bins arrive at the end of the belt he instructs her. “Walk down that hallway. Your gate is the last one on the left. When you get there…”but she is nervous. Frantic.
“My flight to Boston is down there? Can I buy coffee? Is anything open? Just down that hallway?”
Boston. I pause. I realize I have time. I can help. Those are the words in my head. “I have time.”
I get it. Being busy isn’t respectable anymore. But sometimes life is oh.my.god.I.have.so.much.to.do busy for a few days. Or a week. Or in my case a month. So busy, in fact, that eating becomes optional (thank you, work-induced-weight-loss-program!) And washing ones hair happens every 3 (ok, 4) days.
So I give up. I accept these things are not going to happen:
- A clean house. Ok, a clean house was never going to happen around here. Let’s go with “any sort of organization whatsoever”.
- An organized inbox. My work email is at 1,500. My gmail is at 500. My yahoo is too large to count. Perhaps the problem is too many email addresses.
- Writing thank-you cards for my 4-year old. You know, for her birthday party that was in JANUARY.
- Germ prevention. As evidenced by a nasty cold that came complete with laryngitis and double conjunctivitis. (Me, not the kids). Yes, I realize this could be related to the 1st bullet.
- Having a case of the Mondays. It’s impossible to have a case of the Monday’s when you work all weekend.
- Remembering to send the kids to school with any necessities. Like extra clothes, extra water, proper attire for after school programs, homework, signed paperwork, etc. I have remembered to send them with lunch. And a snack.
Things I have somehow managed to keep doing:
“Mommy, I don’t want to cuddle anymore.”
For a minute I was speechless.
Wasn’t cuddling and talking about our day supposed to last for YEARS? At age six, Marlee declared she was done.
My heart broke a little. It would be the first of many things Marlee was ready for before I was.
Or was she?
Of all the mom’s I know, only Stephanie is able to run a farm, cook elaborate meals, and keep the house clean — all with two kids in tow – whether or not her husband is around to help her.Stephanie is some sort of mom-wife superhero. The rest of us are just trying to get by when our resources are cut in half.
So what should you do when your partner is out of town, working late, or otherwise unavailable? This is what works for me —
- The desire to have clean kids *and* a clean house – get over it. Only the kids or the house can be clean. Learn to live with a mess.
- Meal planning can be summarized in multiple two word phrases: Crock pot. Simple meals. Take out. Local delivery.
- Doing the laundry is a necessity. Folding the laundry is not.
- If your kids can’t tell time put them to bed earlier.
All they want is money.
It will consume all my free time.
I was stunned to learn these accusations of the PTA are true.
Really it depends who I talk to. And if they’ve had coffee.
Maybe the real problem is one of perception. Perception brought on by (dare I say it?) poor branding and lazy messaging.
Yup, I said it.
I’m not going to bore you with all that bullshit about how rewarding it is, how you are giving back to your children and the community (ok, I might say that ONCE to instill some guilt), and how fun it is. While true, you can read that anywhere. Let me give you my insider’s perspective.