by Christina Michael
Now officially a stay-at-home mom (a.k.a. lawyer who quit her job to be with her family) for a few years, some “professional” bug has infected me. It affects lots of us stay-at-home and working parents alike. It’s called volunteering, volunteering, and volunteering yet again, at your kids’ schools. Why are we parents so apt to volunteer for these jobs? If we were billing our time, we’d be making a pretty penny considering the hours spent on committee after committee for our kids. Why do we do it?
Well, I know that I, as a stay-at-home mom, have always had major guilt for not being in a “real” paying job. The time and effort spent on my education and on my career made me into an effective and efficient worker, professional colleague, the “rely on her to get the job done” type. Now that I had no 9-5 job for which I was getting paid, I needed to somehow relieve the guilt that I felt for not bringing in any household income (beyond lemonade stands with my kids). I also had some strange desire to use my brain in a constructive way. What better way to do that than volunteer at my younger son’s preschool and my older son’s elementary school over and over again? Hospitality Committee, bake sale chef, room parent, hot lunch program participant, PTA lawyer, team parent (oh, yes, this goes into the after school activities as well), fundraiser for the new school playground. The list is endless.
Sitting in the committee meetings and volunteer caucuses, I realized how many of us there were: ex-professional working women, well-educated, and now on “sabbatical” or working on a reduced schedule. These committees rocked – they ran more efficiently and effectively than some of the best and brightest companies and were brimming with some of the smartest, savviest (though exhausted and over-worked) women I knew. It feels good to be the “rely on her to get the job done” type again, but is it really worth it? Well, I guess it’s a good excuse to meet other great people, but it tends to take me back to my bad habits of over-scheduling and being a Type A insomniac (does Ambien truly become less effective the more I take it?). It’s bad because it lets me never stop moving, processing, running, multi-tasking, and forgetting to take a deep breath.
However, thank goodness there are plenty of those like us. It keeps our public (and private) schools running so well when education is in a state of decline in the
But, I must sign off now to go stuff some envelopes for the PTA, to start dinner, to pay the bills, to walk the dog, to fold the laundry, to return my dad’s phone call before it’s too late in