I have that flu you get when you overextend yourself saying yes to things you have no business saying yes to because you are a foaming-at-the-mouth control monster with a martyrdom fetish.
You can’t medically test for it. The symptoms include fatigue, unprovoked anger, heart palpitations, long and short term memory loss, eye bags, chin hair, random misplaced moaning, jaw clenching, and that thing where every guy you see looks like that one guy from that sad episode of ER.
There is probably a Lifetime movie about this whole thing, only in the movie, I’m the villain.
It’s never the PTA president mom who volunteers everywhere like she has no other job (she does) or responsibilities (oh she has tons of these, too) that is shown in a good light.
It’s always the mom having the perpetual bad day, who buys her bake sale cookies at the store and flips off the mom at the door holding a clip board looking for volunteers for next week’s fundraiser.
But maybe, just maybe, if they would Maleficent this script, you’d see the PTA president is a God damned mess and she just wants to go home, only when she gets there, she realizes her water is turned off because she isn’t home to even remember to pay her water bill with a check like Laura Ingalls Wilder, so she only has enough water for one flush until the city guys come back to turn it on, so she better take her phone in there with her and make the most of it.
“If not me, then who?” is the answer I give Andy when he asks me why I say yes to everything.
It used to feel good, this whole creating a magical childhood for my kids thing.
But, as I was leaning against the gym wall last Saturday, watching groups of kindergarten through 2nd graders play basketball, in a week long clinic I created last year and expanded to include a cheerleading clinic this year, I realized… I don’t even have a kindergarten through second grader, where the hell are my own actual children and why am I not with them?
Volunteerism is a slippery slope.
My friend Meredith takes glee in the “buy out” fundraising option her school offers, allowing parents to just write one check and be left alone the rest of the year.
And yeah, we want your money. But honestly, if given the choice, I’d prefer to have your help.
Because I’m fucking tired.
I once overheard a mom talking about me in the parking lot at pick up. She was telling another mom that she apparently wasn’t cool enough to be in my “clique.”
WE DON’T HAVE A CLIQUE MARLOW, IT’S JUST THE SAME 7 WOMEN WHO KEEP VOLUNTEERING FOR SHIT, AND NOW OUR CYCLES HAVE SYNCED AND WE’RE GODPARENTS TO EACH OTHER’S CHILDREN.
I started the school year with plans to have a late summer yard sale, but as they always do, my weekends quickly filled with sports and school events.
“Want me just to donate this somewhere?” Andy would ask, referring to the growing purged pile of clothes in the closet.
“No!” I pleaded. “I’m going to sell them at our yard sale.”
I began to say “yard sale” as wistfully as someone might say they were going to backpack across Europe or climb Everest.
My life had reached a level of chaotic that resulted in my vision-board-level-goal being just a picture of a person haggling with locals in their driveway in front of a table of pants.
But I blinked, and now it’s November. There is snow on the ground. I had missed my window, and my choices were to either stay on the ride and wait for it to circle back around to my purge closet in the spring, or prove to Andy that my follow-through extends to more than just school library fundraisers and all 900 seasons of Jane the Virgin, and work something out.
Last weekend I dragged two 8 foot tables into my office, and stacked them, my desk, a couch, and any other open surface with clothing, sorted by size and previous owner. I sent a message out to my local Facebook friends, inviting them to a 3 hour window of shopping at a private yard sale, and encouraged them to bring along their besties, but not post anything publicly.
By the time the last car had driven away, and the once overflowing tables had been picked over, I set a stack of checks and cash in front of Andy, climbed into bed, and went to sleep.
The Parent Club was never a place I aspired to be, but rather, one I found myself when too few wanted to step up into it three years ago. Much the way people become scout leaders or peewee soccer coaches.
It’s easy to feel resentful or angry, but then I remember the wise words of Ash Beckham, “there is no harder, only hard.” There are no true enemies here. Our teams are the same.
At the end of this year, I will voluntarily hand over a binder of past agendas and reimbursement requests to another mom with fresh eyes and hope for the human race, and I will go back to being a mom who puts her name on a couple of the sign-up sheets, but not all of them, because she can’t, and also, she doesn’t want to. Unless you need me to. Text me if no one else signs up, okay?
“No” is a complete sentence, said no PTA President, ever.