No, this post is not about teen pregnancy and parenting. It is about me, a 34 year old mom who felt like a 12 year old as she awkwardly ventured into her very first PTA meeting.
Cool me from 15 years ago is averting her eyes with shame- a PTA meeting? How the mighty have fallen.
Competent me is jutting out her chin defiantly. That’s right- a PTA meeting. I am an involved parent! I am organized enough to actually make it to this meeting. What do you think I am- some sort of slacker
But it was 12 year old me who walked into the elementary school last night, nervously wondering if her diaper bag was too big to be considered cool. Perhaps I should just leave it in the car and hold my keys and cell phone? I pondered. No, that would be weird. Where will you put them? Plus, having a bag makes you feel less self-conscious, I decided. Not this bag. Could it be any bigger or less stylish? Why don’t I carry a purse for these types of situations, I chided myself.
|Awful. 12 years old. No wonder that stage of life evokes such awkward feelings.|
I hadn’t even set foot inside my daughter’s school yet and I felt ill at ease. I watched a few moms walk in together ahead of me, clearly friends. They had trendy boots on with their jeans, and I wished I had thought to wear my new boots, one of the few fashionable things I possessed. They didn’t hold the door for me.
Having never attended a PTA meeting before, I was unsure where to sit in the sparsely populated school library. The PTA board sat in front, chatting animatedly with one another, and the panel of teachers who were to speak about the new math curriculum, (the reason I was in attendance that evening, inspired by a colossal math homework related meltdown earlier in the afternoon. Another story for another day.) were seated in the middle of the room.
There were tables behind them and chairs grouped to the side; I opted for a chair on the side. Besides the board, the teachers, and the principal, there were less than ten parents in attendance, a fact that only made me more uncomfortable. As the meeting start time grew closer, I realized nobody was seated anywhere near me, and clumsily moved to another table, forcing myself not to mumble apologetically about my initial poor choice of seating.
My cheeks burned as parents around me conversed easily with one another, and I sat quietly by myself. I decided finding a piece of gum in my purse would give me something to do. Mercifully, the meeting started shortly thereafter. The stylishly clad, perfectly coiffed board members called the meeting to order.
I waited patiently through the bizarre meeting protocol where the secretary asked if there was a motion to approve last month’s minutes, and somebody else had to second it. Huh? I half-heartedly raised my index finger in acknowledgment as we “voted” on this mundane occurrence. It only took 10-15 minutes until we got to the real reason for my presence- the discussion of the math curriculum and the reason why my perfectionist daughter had a meltdown at least once a week.
As the panel of teachers began by discussing the first grade math curriculum, a mom next to me raised her eyebrows and said, “First grade? That sounds like a lot.”
“Tell me about it,” I replied, “That’s why I have a glass of wine after homework every night. Sometimes during.” She laughed appreciatively and said, “I like you.”
I’m in! I thought, flushing with pride and realizing how dumb this was. I flashed back to being a new kid in school at the beginning of my 8th grade year. I came home and told my mom exactly how many kids smiled at me that day.
*To my mom and brother, if you are reading this, please stop crying. I turned out okay. Pretty much. Try not to read too much into this inner monologue providing evidence to the contrary.
|But why does my little friend look normal? This seems unfair.|
After the panel discussion wrapped up, my hand shot up so I could ask my burning math question. Ignoring my reddening cheeks, I shared our family’s struggle with the curriculum and asked for some homework guidance, and noted the buzz of consent around me. It seemed other parents were dealing with similar frustrations and concerns.
Feeling less out of place, more relevant, and less uncomfortable by the end of the meeting, I thought about the moms who made up the PTA board and why I found myself so intimidated in their presence. Sure, they had gigantic diamond rings, attractive hairstyles, and chic clothes. But didn’t I love my wedding ring? Don’t I have a cute, albeit short, haircut? Didn’t I consider myself to be a fairly attractive mama?
Perhaps it was more the “put-together” vibe emanating from these moms. The idea that maybe their baby’s shit didn’t stink. Perhaps the real reason I felt intimidated was that I assumed they, being board members for crying out loud, had this whole motherhood thing down to a Pinterest-perfect art form.
But is this true? Was the PTA president really attempting to exude a vibe of superiority? Did she really want everyone to think she was the Homecoming Queen of Parenthood? And did she realize that those of us not seated at her lunch table felt like second class citizens?
*Note- if you are the PTA President, please know, I don’t think you are an asshole. I am just using this title as a metaphor for intimidating human beings. If it makes you feel more comfortable, substitute “popular girl” or “Prom Queen”.
I reflected briefly on my comment about the “Moms Who Are Trying Too Hard To Be Stylish”and my husband’s return of, “Are you sure they’re not saying the same thing about you?”
While the notion of other people somehow missing my agitated, frazzled, self-conscious, and clueless exterior makes me laugh, I do think it is a good point. Maybe the moms who attend my music classes think that I am a super-confident, not at all awkward, crafty, nutritious-food cooking, clean-house dwelling, always- patient icon of a parent. Perhaps I am the PTA President in their eyes. It could happen. I guess.
|Though I clearly prefer loungewear over couture, at least my glasses are cooler now. Right?|
So here is my challenge: Hey, PTA President! What’s your story? I don’t want to hear about the super fabulous themed snack ideas you made for the class party. I don’t want to see the adorable matching dresses for your twin toddlers that you found on Etsy. (Did I use that right? Not sure what Etsy is, really.) I don’t want to hear about your fabulous anniversary ski trip to Aspen with the dashing Hubs.
Here is what I want to know:
Tell me how you lost your temper and yelled at your kids last night while they were screwing around at bedtime.
Tell me how you and your husband haven’t spent more than 20 minutes alone together all week.
Tell me how you haven’t showered since Tuesday.
Tell me that your seven year old wets the bed and you have no idea what to do about it.
Tell me what it is really like inside your perfect house.
You tell me your truth, and then I’ll tell you mine. And we’ll both feel a whole hell of a lot better.
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