Friday, November 18, 2011

They're all Harper Valley Hypocrites...

 I have a confession to make: My son is now in middle school, and I have never once in my life been to a PTA meeting. You may think this is no big deal, especially if you don’t have kids, but in the cut-throat, mom-eat-mom world of Elementary School Mothering, not attending this hallowed monthly meeting is an abomination against good parenting. I should just go ahead and smear black tar heroin all over a double fudge Pop-Tart and serve it to my kids for breakfast with a shot of Patron on the side. Yeah, some people think it’s that bad, but before you start the proceedings to have me declared an unfit mother, please allow me to plead my case. I have completely legitimate reasons for being an Absentee School Mom.
 
Before I became a mother, I thought I scored fairly high on the Decent Human Being scale. I was gainfully employed and good at my job. I kept myself in shape and made good food choices at every meal. My house was clean, and my yard looked nice, and my bills were all paid on time, and I regularly donated to charities. I sailed through life with not a care in the world more pressing than where to eat out every weekend and whether or not Nirvana was the greatest band in the history of rock. (Probably) What’s not to like…or so it seemed. My calm, cool exterior hid the fact that I was a mostly crazy, OCD-suffering control freak who hates to talk to other humans. That was my business, though, not the world's, and I planned to keep it that way.

 Then, alas, my children were born.

When you step out of your house with a child in tow, the door to your personal life is flung wide open, and complete strangers feel compelled to bestow their advice and admonitions on you at will. There is no hiding that you aren't perfect and were running late because the strained carrot proof is still smeared across your baby’s face. It’s obvious that you are a poor planner because you find yourself at the mall with a baby who is sitting in a toxic diaper and only an empty box of butt wipes in your bag. Don’t even get me started on the comments you get when the Lactation Nazi at the hospital catches wind of the fact that you have decided to give your child formula instead of breast milk. Horrors! Don’t you know that by drinking formula your child will grow up to be a maladjusted, undernourished, slacker who catches every virus wafting through the air at the mall where he half-ass works as a clerk at the comic book kiosk? (This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from “Raising Arizona” when Holly Hunter’s character was asked, “Why ain’t you breastfeedin’? You appear capable.”)
 
As babies grow into toddlers, the pressure to have an advanced child is palpable. The Stepford Moms will brag that their precious darling was walking by seven months of age and speaking Mandarin Chinese fluently at two. You need to be in the “right” pre-school, or your child may not master at four years of age everything they are supposed to learn in kindergarten. Since my son was cared for by my late mother instead of being schooled properly, I was already a few steps behind in the “My Kid Is Smarter Than Your Kid” game. Gee, I guess I should have been ashamed of myself for not teaching my child to write in cursive before his fifth birthday, but on the day I was going to review that, he was playing with trains, so I cut the little man some slack.

It only took chaperoning one field trip early in my son's first year in public school for me to realize I was in over my head with the other moms. It was high school all over again, and I was still the dork. They were all Junior Welfare League fundraising-types, and I was...you know...Not. When they encouraged parents to join their club aka the PTA but held meetings during the mid-morning hours, I took that as a sign that they were trying to keep out the working mother riff raff. When these same moms were more than happy to accept my meager cupcakes for their school activities but wouldn't acknowledge my existence outside of the school cafeteria, I took it personally. When did I become one of the dregs of society? For your information, MY kid isn't the one eating paste or peeing on the rug during circle time. Just because you are in a higher tax bracket than I am and have a flair for being the Drill Sargeant of the Book Fair doesn't mean you get to treat me like the hired help.

So, I wrote off the whole lot of them. I swore that as a bona fide grown up, I didn't have to suck up to group of clique-ish women in cashmere sweaters. I want to tell some of these memers that the PTA isn't a sorority of adulthood. Yes, I will help my child's teacher if the need is there, and I am more than happy to donate my time or resources in the name of furthering my child's education, but I jumped off that Social Ladder the day I donned my cap and gown, and even though we're at a different school now, I refuse to join because I have a gold medal in grudge holding.

Sadly, I never had the cojones to stand up to those women back then, but this was the anthem that played in my head...my way of socking it to 'em... (click here)

24 comments:

  1. you put the heroin on a pop tart, BIG DEAL! It's not like you laced it in a cigarette and had them smoke it! :-) Good blog...

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  2. I mostly hate you because you keep writing the blog that I've been meaning to write.

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  3. Love the snarkiness, Lynda! Well said. Sadly, I haven't been to any middle school PTA meetings either. What do they do at those things anyway??

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  4. One of my biggest fears in having a child is this crap. You are the gold standard for me. Describing being a good parent which I know you are and yet dealing with stupid judgement is what I'm most afraid of. Thank you for writing what I know I will be feeling. You rock so freaking hard. As much as Nirvana for sure.

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  5. Aww...thanks. :-)

    @Sandbox Gems...when we registered my son for middle school, I practically RAN from the PTA sign up table. What they do will remain a mystery. :-)

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  6. Love coming your way for that blog post from Denise.

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  7. YES! The PTA/PTO is one of the things I do not miss since I took my kids out of traditional public school.
    Kelly (AKA How I Learned to Wear a Dress)

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  8. Resident SapiosexualNovember 19, 2011 at 8:16 PM

    I can't say thank you enough for this. YOU analyzing your every move as a mother is hard enough without the rest of the world chiming in. Thank you for reminding me that being a Stepford wife is not something to aspire to.

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  9. Its even more fun dealing with the Stepford Wives when you are a stay at home Dad!

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  10. I gave you a well-deserved award. Go over to my blog and check it out.

    Keep writing!

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  11. LOL I LOVED THIS!!! Hi, I'm Christina Estes' friend, she said to introduce myself... soo, if you read my comment on FB and already clicked the link to my blog, I'm probably in hot water by now;) But if not, 'Harper Valley Hypocrites' reminded me of a post I wrote about a year ago. I think you would appreciate this one better:) http://agentfrey.blogspot.com/2011/03/teacher-conference-day.html

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  12. I love this! We have one child, a son. My wife and I both work. During the summer my son was left out of a lot of camps or classes because they were only available during the day, which were only convenient for stay at home parents.

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  13. YES! I help out wherever I can as long as I can do it alone. I'm a regular at the school library simply because they only need one parent at a time.
    I tried being the class parent last year figuring it would just have to deal with them via email. No I was wrong. Never again.

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  14. Tried the PTA thing, did not work for me at all!

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  15. Love this! My daughter started kinder this year. Because I was a teacher, I know the Mama drama that PTA is. I never joined a sorority for the same reason, why would I invite drama into my life. I even created a playgroup of my own because the organized ones in town had presidents and secretaries and terms of office...seriously, you need a president of a kid's playgroup! So I vowed that I would volunteer in the classroom only. I am a stay at home Mom, and I have mad respect for the working mother. Balancing it all no matter what is hard, throwing in Mama drama just makes it ever so much harder. As it is, I have a neighbor who does not like me. Our daughters are in the same class, first day of school I got the Mama freeze out from all the Mama's with older kids. New Moms seem to be just as nice as nice can be. I just keep smiling, cause to confront my neighbor would just be asking for more drama that I am not willing to deal with, I mean she lives two door away...Maybe one day,when one of us moves I can ask her WTF lady?

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  16. Love your writing and humor! I actually joined PTA this year after four years of volunteering in library, etc. and I have to say that I'm glad I did. I'm far from a Harper Vally gal, and know exactly what you mean by that, but am glad I didn't let my dorkiness hold me back. Those PTA moms are the ones who raise the funds and put the FUN in school and I'm proud to be part of the team. Someone with your wit and ability to think outside of the box would have been a tremendous asset at your school, so I hope others reading take a chance and give that PTA a whirl. It is fun being the dork on the PTA!

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  17. Love your writing and humor! I actually joined PTA this year after four years of volunteering in library, etc. and I have to say that I'm glad I did. I'm far from a Harper Vally gal, and know exactly what you mean by that, but am glad I didn't let my dorkiness hold me back. Those PTA moms are the ones who raise the funds and put the FUN in school and I'm proud to be part of the team. Someone with your wit and ability to think outside of the box would have been a tremendous asset at your school, so I hope others reading take a chance and give that PTA a whirl. It is fun being the dork on the PTA!

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  18. I love your wit and humor. I look forward to your comments every day and find myself chuckling out loud at most. I'm far from a Harper Valley girl, but I'm on a PTA board. GASP! I sat on the sidelines for 4 years, helping here and there, but feeling a bit intimidated by those super moms who bring the funds and the "fun" to their schools. I'm so glad I took the leap to be the "dork" on the PTA and I only wish you had been able to bring your insight and humor to your child's PTA too. I'm really enjoying my experience and hope others read my words and decide to be an imperfect mom on the PTA too. If life is full of seasons, this is the "mom" season and I've decided to enjoy it fully until the next season comes along.

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  19. I have never been to a PTA meeting either. This probably shocks you. Won't touch that stuff with a ten foot pole. I volunteer all the time and all that, but have no desire to go. Love this post.

    p.s. the time spent playing trains with your mom was way more important. xoxo

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  20. I could not have written anything that better describes exactly how I feel...great blog! Amen, 100x over!

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