When Edie started preschool, I was just coming out of the mindset that I needed to use my college degree in the field in which I had studied and trained, aka, career mom. And honestly, as much as I loved being home with her all day, I was really looking forward to those few hours a week where I got to drop her off with someone else and go do my own thing. I didn’t even bother looking at any preschool that used the word co-op. I wanted to write a check, drop her off and call it a day.
So, when she started kindergarten, I was slightly taken aback as Pat pointed to all the sign up sheets her teacher had laid out for volunteer opportunities.
“Which ones do you want to sign up for?”
I’m pretty sure I just gave him a confused look. I had just gotten myself a career type job again and was looking forward to getting back on that path. In my mind, that did not leave time for volunteering at school. Wasn’t that what supermoms did? I was not one of those.
“Uhm, I’m not that kind of parent.”
“We are that kind of parent.”
Somehow, I ended up signing up to read to her class every now and again, although when his schedule would allow, I sent Pat in, since you, ‘we’ were that kind parenting team.
At the end of the year, her teacher asked me if I would help out with the class picnic. Sure thing. When I got to school that day, I realized I was in charge of the whole shebang, along with another mom that had been nominated.
When Edie started first grade, she also wanted to be a girl scout. I had just spent the better part of a year going around with the local council who couldn’t tell me where a troop was that my daughter could join, so finally, sucker that I am, I started one. This also emboldened me to try my hand at organizing some class parties.
I might be what people call ‘crafty’, as in, I like to make things. Sewing and knitting on my own does in no way give me any sort of talent for organizing 15+ children in any sort of crafty activity. Not only that, I have dream child. Seriously. I don’t say this to brag, I say this because she has lulled me into thinking that any sort of craft I come up with from any website or that is suggested by the girl scouts that she is capable of doing with me, that any child her age can do. Nothing is farther from the truth. She has a much longer attention span than kids her age. She also is a big rule follower (she so does not that get that from me), and at the age of 6 was a better colorer than myself. She’s been rolling out my pie crusts and sugar cookies since she was 2. I should have seen the red flag that was her printing out her own Martha activities, but I thought all 6 year old girls that were left a little unsupervised for too long did that. I learned the hard way my kid is not like the others. Turns out I really stink at creating activities for kids that aren’t mine.
Somehow, despite organizing a few slightly disastrous events, her teacher that year approached me about organizing the class picnic for the entire grade. So, first grade, I put together the class picnic too. Somehow this has evolved into me now just telling the team of teachers at her grade level that I will do the end of the year picnic. Other parents in the class have told me they expect this. Far from me to let them down. This is also my excuse for not volunteering at so many other events. Or, it has been. Thankfully, that mom that was nominated to help me that first year always steps forward to be my right hand gal at every event I foolishly take on.
Last year, Edie had a teacher who, how shall we say this politely? Really needed help from parents in her classroom. I may have taken over an event or two, although to be honest, it didn’t dawn on me until today that I actually did that. I know I wasn’t the only parent to take over an event, so I suppose that’s why I didn’t think much of it.
This year, when Edie’s teacher asked for parents to volunteer, I said I was available. (We are those parents you know.) Great, could I come in every Thursday and help with math? Math is not my strong point, in fact, daily I’m pretty sure that every math teacher I ever had, not to mention my high school guidance counselor is laughing at me, for I insisted to them all that I did NOT need math later in life. Ahem. Turns out it’s on the quiz EVERY DAY. That geometry I hated? Slightly essential for interior design, especially when floor and wall coverings are in measured and ordered in things like square feet. And things like, altering recipes and knitting patterns also require math. D’oh! But, her teacher assured me, I’d be working with students that needed help with basics and I would be fine. I have trouble with basics too really, I never did memorize my multiplication tables, something I’ve never admitted. Still, her teacher assured me I could do this. (The jury is still out on that one.)
A few weeks before Christmas, I got a phone call on a Saturday morning from a mom friend, who has a child in Edie’s class. What did I know about the Christmas party the teacher was planning? Had anyone responded to his flyer about the Christmas party? Wouldn’t I just step in and handle it? “It’s what you do Becky”.
See? Still in complete denial that I am THAT mom.
A few weeks ago, I was in for my regular Thursday afternoon with Edie’s class. The new wellness policy of Charlottesville City schools calls for no more than once a month birthday celebrations and her teacher told me they were going to enforce it, starting now. I asked how he wanted to go about it, since Edie did have a birthday this month and I couldn’t help but notice he had a few other students with birthdays this month and would it be helpful if I contacted the other parents and organized for him? Of course he went for it, and somehow in my organizing it, I realized I set the date to be Edie’s actual birthday. To be fair, it’s Thursday, when they have ‘flex time’ and I know they have a little time for it. But yes, the date may have swayed me.
And so suddenly, I realize, I am THAT mom. I am coming to terms with this. I’m not entirely sure how I got here, although in writing this, I see the trail. I’ve evolved into it, over time.
I’ve always thought I’m different from the other moms, certainly different from what I called the ‘supermoms’. I wear my pj’s to the bus stop on a daily basis. The kids actually ask what’s up if I’m not in my pj’s. I’ve even worn my fluffy pink robe out to wave the bus down, as Edie was running late and I didn’t want her to miss it. Actually, I’ll wear my pj’s to Reid’s market to pick up something before noon on a weekend morning if you really want to know the truth. I’m known to pregame evening events at school -not saying which ones, but sometimes, a drink beforehand is the only way to get through them. I never fail to humiliate my child by my get-ups I work in the yard in- the more embarrassing the ensemble for her, the more of her friend’s parents that drive by, or worse, stop to chat. Yesterday, the first grader across the street stopped as she was getting off the bus and asked me “What are you wearing?”. (My overalls). She so did not approve. I kinda let my opinions fly and I don’t always care if someone is offended. I don’t carry a cell phone on a regular basis and the one I do have, less than 10 people in the entire universe know the number. That does not include me. I have no idea what my cell number is. Seriously. I suck at kid’s crafts. I hate games, so I avoid organizing them at all costs. My idea of a party is to just serve alcohol and call it a day. I have exactly 11 more years before I can pull this off with my daughter’s birthday parties. I have potty mouth and forget to censor myself in front of kids sometimes, which then leads me to say, “Earmuffs” only to realize that it’s not appropriate for kids to have seen “Old School” and so therefore, really have no idea what I’m talking about. And then there is the fact that I talk to kids as if they are grown ups. I’ve been known to say, not only to my own kid, but members of my girl scout troop “I’m really just not in the mood to deal with what you are doing right now, so can you not do that? Great, thanks.” in a somewhat firm, but sarcastic tone. I find they generally respond to that well. I am all for bagging a girl scout meeting plan and having the girls run and play while the moms chat, preferably over a bottle of wine, or three. When you pick your child up from a playdate at my house, chances are, I have a glass of wine in my hand and offer you one. (There may be a theme there.) When your kid has a sleepover at my house, there’s a good chance I’m in bed before they are and when I get up, they have usually turned on the tv. I will feed them breakfast in bed because I don’t want to interrupt their movie and they generally have agreed to waiting for me to have at least one cup of coffee before I even go near any other part of the kitchen and then I will make it up to them by making something like, bacon or sausage and chocolate waffles. I don’t this as spoiling, I see it as a trade-off.
Really, all the supermom type things I do, like the girl scout troop, like organizing class parties, I do because Edie wants these things to happen and if I can’t get someone else to do it, then I will do them. Somewhere along the way, I came to the realization that raising a good person was way more important and had a much bigger lasting impact than a career. So while I always made sure I made time for my kid, when I stepped firmly off career track and decided that I was a mom first and foremost, I really felt okay about making things happen that she really wanted. I know that it’s a fleeting thing, this view she has of me, where I am incredibly capable and can fix just about everything. It’s a horrible thing to realize your parents are human, probably far worse for us parents. The things I have done, simply because she thought I could – it has stretched me beyond my wildest limits, and yet, I really have been able to accomplish the things she thinks I can. She has far more confidence in me than I do myself, so sometimes when I should say no, I say yes, because what’s the worst that could happen? I fail and my child finds out I’m human. She’s bound to figure that out pretty soon anyway. By saying yes, I’m just holding that day at bay.