Childrearing

Don’t Be A Volunteer Mom If You’re Going To Bitch About It

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resentful-volunteer-momThe kids are about to head back to school, and I can already see the Instagram updates of smiling kids with fresh backpacks off to a new year of learning. Then, the paperwork arrives.

There’s the PTA who wants your time and, of course, you’ll need to duke it out if your children are small to get the coveted title of Room Parent, and then there’s the book fair, library, lunch duty, party planning, staff appreciation, Halloween, on and on it goes. And that’s just the school. There’s snack coordinating and team parties for sports, scouts, recitals. If something involves your child beyond you parenting them, it’s expected that you’ll pony up your time–free of charge–and volunteer. This year instead of signing up, I say pass it along. Volunteer less. The only thing worse than not volunteering is being a resentful volunteer mom.

I know this because I’ve met many women who shouldn’t have volunteered their time, but signed the form, smiled, hated it and were downright jerks about the whole thing. Last year, for instance, my family moved to not only a new school district, but a new state. For whatever reason, my email address never made the grade’s distribution list for information. Before arriving in our new state and my daughter in her new school, I signed up for the school’s PTA e-newsletter. My daughter’s teacher had my email and we communicated. I thought everything I needed to know, I knew. I was wrong.

Fifth grade celebrations have become mini-graduations as the students rise to sixth grade. I anticipated this, but information never arrived. A friend tipped me off that the school puts together a slideshow of pictures set to music that includes a baby picture and a current picture of each student. This kind of send off, while sweet, led to a downright nasty email exchange between me and a volunteer mom I’d never met. Fearing that my daughter wouldn’t be included because I never received an email about when to hand in pictures, I found the celebration coordinator’s email, sent the pictures and was told I was too late. The presentation was finished.

So I went to the school to ask questions. Without knowing how the celebration worked, I wanted to know if there was someone else who would take my pictures, if I could do the work myself, if anyone was willing to not let one student be left out. With only sixty students, the class wasn’t large. And who, in their right mind, would want one of them left out?

Someone who shouldn’t have volunteered, that’s who.

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