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The Great Volunteer Debate: Part 1

My kids aren’t the only ones headed back to school. I am too. And as excited as I am to add some structure and routine back in our lives, I’ll be honest: the early morning chaos, the “I can’t find one of my shoes!” daily drama, the lies—LIES!—about not having homework, all of it weighs heavily on my summertime heart. But of all the things I’ll miss most about summertime, it’s that radio silence from the PTA moms who—for just those two-and-a-half months—have ceased to nag me for a donation or my time.

Yep. I said it. I am the anti-PTA mom.

PTA parents work hard, they volunteer their time, but that doesn’t mean I’m any less of a parent if I don’t.

Now I’m not against the PTA. They’re a fantastic bunch of dedicated people and without them our schools would be in even worse shape than they are now—that’s a fact. What has me a little less than fangirl over them is their tactics. They don't need to guilt me into volunteering and donating money by dangling a pizza party in front of my kids if I do my part.

Why don’t we keep this between us, ladies?

And yes, PTA parents work hard, they volunteer their time, they get up there at Back to School Night and talk about how hard they work, but that doesn’t mean I’m any less of a parent because I don’t. And it’s not just that I simply don’t want to volunteer my time—it’s that I can’t.

My other full-time job aside from being a parent, the one that pays me so I can donate to the PTA, is several cities away and requires a hellish morning and evening commute, which doesn’t allow me to be super volunteer mom too. The occasions I can’t make a play at 1 in the afternoon or an ice cream social right after school weigh guiltily on me as it is; I don’t need the judgmental eye of the moms who can, especially that alpha mom who also just-so-happens-to-be PTA President, not to mention the moms I see at drop-off in the morning prim and proper, make-up and hair perfectly in place, ready to take on the educational system while I’m just praying there’s a short line at Starbucks so I can get to work on time. As a single divorced working mom, I get enough side-eye glances as it is—I don’t need theirs too.

Can’t we just agree to disagree, Madam PTA President, that what works for you is great for you, and that’s fantastic, but I have to do what works best for me—which does not include attending board meetings at night or overseeing computer lab time during daytime hours I don’t have.

I’m happy to donate money and supplies, and I do. I will give you the kudos you deserve for going the extra mile for kids that aren’t yours—and I do. But when it comes to me, my time with my boys is precious and limited and reserved for my kids, and my kids alone. Don’t judge me for that.

Read the pro-PTA mom here.

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