Friday, July 7, 2017

Doing What I Never Thought I Would

Hello all!  Yes, I am well aware that it has been over a year since I wrote anything.  I don't like it, but there are many factors that have kept me from writing.  Or rather having the time to write.  Part of the reason it is getting harder for me to write is because I have growing children who are finding out more about this Internet thing, and that they might be a part of a few stories on here. Or maybe all of them.  Semantics.  Fine and cute when they were younger but not when they are almost in 8th grade, MOM!  So I feel I do have to respect some of their privacy.  I guess.  However the bigger reason I haven't been on here has been time, and not having enough of it.  Not that any of us do, but this past year my life turned into crazy town.  The reason for that is because I did something I said I would NEVER do-I really should stop saying never-I became PTA president.

Now I know some of you just had a flash of Christina Applegate as PTA president in Bad Moms, but I can assure I am more of the Mila Kunis character.  This was not something I wanted or lobbied for in any way.  In fact,  I must have told  the nomination committee last year "NO" almost a dozen times.  Then they wore me down, but not after convincing two of my good PTA friends to do it with me.  They had also been approached and told the committee no, but when the three of us started talking about working together, we figured it could work.  Matt is my PTA husband and he agreed to co-President with me to share duties, and my friend Libby we roped in to being our VP.  Then we found out unfortunately that you can't have "co-Presidents",  so on paper I am the President.  Yay.

So what's it like to be PTA President of an Elementary school-you ask.  Well, you know when you were in college and  you took that internship, worked your ass off, worked ridiculous hours and didn't get a dime for it because you were getting "work experience"?  Yeah, like that, except 20 years later and with kids.  I pretty much work a part time job with no pay.  Here's the thing though-I kinda liked it.  Shhhh...don't tell anyone!

Yeah I know I'm a little crazy, but you all knew that already.  And believe me-I didn't like it all the time.  There were times throughout the year when we were about to have our next big event-Halloween Hulabaloo, Variety Show, Spring Event-where everything at school and my life were being boiled into one big mess of insanity.  I may have walked the line of a nervous breakdown a time or two, but managed to come out on the other side  with most of my sanity intact.

I've been involved in school since Sonya was in kindergarten, but just not all the way.  I still had the little two at home, so I would attend all the school events and help by baking for the bake sale.  When I had grandparents in town I would volunteer in the class.  Then as they all went to school, I went to school more.  I mean-why not?  I don't work and as much as I think I want to sit around and eat bon bons while watching soaps all day, I am so NOT a good sit around and do nothing all day person.  Plus there are only about three soaps left on TV these days anyway.  So I continued to volunteer for this position or that position.  I helped out at events and continued to do things in the classroom.  I became good friends with the teachers and the PTA parents so much so that when they needed a new president, they turned to me.  I guess it's flattering  they thought of me, but I know it was also a matter of necessity.  The people who had been around and in charge for so long were all leaving.  And I mean just about all of them.  There were only a handful of us left who knew anything about how to run this organization, so we agreed to take over.  Little did we know what we were getting ourselves into.

Because so many parents left last year, those of us who did take over were a little lost for a few months.  Or completely lost for most of the year.  I guess either statement could be correct.  The people before us who had been treasurers-and I use that term loosely-either had no idea what they were doing or just didn't give a shit.  Perhaps a bit of both.  I did not know this when I took over and asked my friend Christina to be my treasurer. (Sorry again, Christina!)  Looking back now,  the best thing I did as President last year was ask Christina to be our treasurer.  It took her ALL YEAR-and I am so not exaggerating about that-to clean up the mess that was left for us.  I couldn't even go into detail about all the problems we had, because I didn't even understand half of them.  Numbers are not my thing, but they are  hers.  She was my superhero.  She managed to untangle the mess that was made over at least 3 years and fix it so it's all pretty and neat now.  We have real working correct numbers.  Not-"maybe we have this much" or "maybe we spent that much".  She filed our taxes and made sure our audit was correct.  I honestly can't sing her praises enough.  I would have failed without her.  So part of the moral to this story is make sure you have a good money person in your life for anything!

Besides the money, we were down in volunteers- period.  I don't know if it's the ebb and flow with things like this, or because we had so many volunteer parents that left, or if people just don't give a shit anymore.  However, my goal was to try and be as welcoming as possible to encourage new parents to help.  I think for the most part we did a decent job of getting more people involved.  It's hard because people have such a stigma about PTA.  Kind of the similar stigma mini vans have.  They are the same. Once you get involved or you buy into it, you are hooked.  Plus there were the couple margarita parties I threw at my house complete with bounce house for everyone's kids.  Margaritas help people to say yes to chairing a position, while still having fun! (Although I should point out that these parties were MY parties, and not PTA sponsored parties in any way.  They just happened to have all my PTA friends there.)   I love my PTA family.  They are friends I know I will have forever.  People like Matt, Libby, Christina and Elisa who I run the Variety Show with every year, these are not just PTA people I see at school.  They have been there for me when I have needed someone in a pinch to watch my girls or pick them up or just to bitch to. In turn I am always there for them.   They have become some of my best friends.  Maybe other PTAs are different, but we try our best to include whoever wants to be included and not ostracize those who don't.  Although it would be nice if everyone just gave one hour of their time to an event now and then.  I'm just saying.

So am I doing this again next year?  Yup.  I am.  Again-there's that I'm crazy thing.  I've had several people ask why I'm doing this again.  Here's the deal.  I've just cleaned everything up-so why am I going to hand it over to someone else?  No, I want a chance to run this thing right for at least a year.  I have 2 more years in elementary before I move on for good and I plan to make sure it stays nice and neat for at least that long.  I have so many people now who are behind me wanting the same thing now.  People who are excited and want to do this PTA thing.  Two moms-Dawn and Frankie shout out to them!-who have been amazing and will be there long after I will.  Not to mention  awesome dad, Justin-who has brought so many of these new parents in and jumps in to help out with anything and everything.  So yeah.  I'd say I'm at least doing better than Trump.  Although, I guess that's not really saying much these days, so perhaps that's a bad comparison.

Here's my takeaway for all of you who are parents out there.  If you are involved in your kids' schools  now, continue your support.  If you're not, consider it.  Even if you are a full time working parent.  All the people I have mentioned in this post are full time working parents still willing to put the time in to make their kids school experience a great one.  I'm not saying take on the role of President, yet.  Offer to run a bake sale or at least work it for an hour.  Find a friend and pick a position to chair or hell-just go to a PTA meeting.  You might find that you like it too, or at least like the people.  Even if you think that the PTA is just a bunch of cranky moms.  Chances are they are that way because they feel alone and overworked and like if they don't do it nobody else will.  Believe me, it's a sucky feeling.  So be the one to reach out to them. Not to mention the fact that your kids see how involved you are, and it makes them more willing to be involved in school and keep their head in the game, so to speak.  My girls love that I am there, and they do like to mention that I'm the President to their friends.  Not that their friends care, but still.  Now perhaps this wouldn't fly as well in middle school or high school but they still like me right now and think I'm cool for the most part.  I'm hoping that will carry me for a while.  Once they get to middle school it's a whole different ball game. One that is harder to navigate, so get in on the ground floor.  I promise it is not something you will ever regret.  So here's to one more year of my Presidency and hoping that it's slightly easier this time around.  After all-I know what I'm doing now.  I think.  


Beth Bumgarner said...

So proud of all the hard work you've done this year! It can be such a thankless job (and with no paycheck to boot). You should come be the PTA president at my school. ��

Patrizia Lazzeri said...

You are West Coast Mother of the Year!!! You are an amazing woman, wife, mother, author and President! Best congratulations on your hard work and huge successes!! BRAVA!!