My daughter is in the fourth grade and every year since she’s been in school so far, she’s asked me to be the room mom. You know, the one who comes into class to help pass out an exorbitant amount of homemade Pinterest worthy treats for every holiday party. Each year I tell her that she doesn’t want me to be the room mom and I see that faint look of disappointment on her adorable little face. It’s so cute that I almost want to consider being the room mom. Just kidding, she’s not that cute. The truth is, I would hate being the room mom. It’s hard enough wrangling the two kids that I have, let alone another twenty-two, even if it was only for a 30-minute party three times a year under the supervision of a well-qualified teacher and what I can only assume are other room moms. Plus, my mom was a teacher which meant extra classroom time helping her set up in the summer. I really have no desire to go back to any level of K-12 voluntarily.
Here’s the thing, why isn’t she giving my husband room PARENT guilt? We both have jobs. Society, you fail so early. Not only can I not do it all, but in this case, I don’t want to. I go to practices, and take time off for concerts, and field day lunches. I wash all the uniforms and find matching soccer socks. I even try to make friends with the other parents even though my social anxiety rages and I feel like they won’t like me and I’ll be left out of the cool kid parent group. I truly try to be around even though I can’t get the kids on and off the bus or be there every afternoon to help with homework. I’m proud that I’m giving them a female working role model. I’m proud that they can see my struggles from work that I bring home and attempt to work through. I carry an appropriate amount of working mom guilt and it keeps me in check for when I am home, so I interact with the kids instead of zoning out on my social media…most of the time.
So maybe here’s where I’m getting it wrong. Instead of blaming it on the fact that I work, or that I don’t have my clearances (yeah I totally used that excuse this year, I know), I should just tell her I don’t WANT to be the room mom. This is my choice, it’s not happening to me, and it has nothing to do with how much I love and support her. Room mom is just not my jam. Why am I shielding her? It’s either my own guilt or some story I’ve told myself about society’s expectations. There are in fact times that I can’t be there because I work. Why am I giving my job more of a bad rep? Sorry job, I’ll make it up to you. Telling her will most definitely help her make sense of it. Knowing my kid, she’s probably spending some mental energy on trying to solve my problem. I’ll do her a favor by being honest, clear, and loving. And I’ll go ahead and tackle the fact that I’m not volunteering for the Washington DC field trip either. Two birds, one reluctantly honest and guilty mom stone. I can do it.
Where can you tell the people in your life the actual truth and own it because it’s okay? Maybe you’ll free up some of their mental space, or at least some of your own. I’m with you!