by Kerry Rivera
My eldest started Kindergarten this year, and I’m pleased to report the transition has been surprisingly smooth. He loves his school, has lots of new friends and speaks fondly of his teacher.
But last week he asked me a question that got the mommy guilt swirling.
“Mom, all of these other moms are helping out in my classroom – why don’t you come to my classroom to help?”
Ahhh … knife to the chest. As a working mom I of course heard … “God mom, everyone else’s mom rocks. Why can’t you show me a little love and hang out in my class like all of the other awesome moms.”
Still, I answered his question the best way I could, telling him that mommy goes to work everyday to help support our family. My job helps pay for our house, food and all of the things we need … and some of the things we want. Some moms don’t have to work. They stay at home and take care of their families in other ways. Since they do not drive to an office everyday, they have the time to help our community and schools in special ways.
I went on to tell him that I would help his class too – perhaps come in for special parties or bring in supplies or materials for the teacher. In other words, I basically become the mom who pulls out the checkbook.
My son nodded and moved on. He doesn’t really understand what I do at work all day, but he gets that I contribute to our family’s needs. Still, it’s hard for kids his age to understand why some moms work and others don’t … and it’s natural for young children to want their parents visible at school. In fact, MT columnist Wendy Sachs  summed it up quite nicely in her recent post titled Class Mom Aspirations .
Oh how I long to be that ever-present mom at the school functions. And I can’t help but think being present at his school would be give me more visibility to what goes on in his class. And don’t you think those teachers have special relations with these volunteer parents? At Back-to-School night my son’s teacher went on and on about the importance of parent volunteers. Knife to the chest again. Yup, got that, but I can’t be available from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. every other day to cut, staple and organize.
And so the mommy guilt builds. Even though I realize many of these teachers, largely women, are working moms too, I feel like I’m missing something … failing my son in some small way.
I salute the moms who give so much of their time to our children at school, recess duty and various fundraising functions. I wish I had more time to give. In the meantime, I hope you will accept my volunteerism in less visible ways. Can I write you a check?