With my oldest getting ready to start high school, I’ve been thinking a lot about when she was just starting out in Kindergarten. It wasn’t easy, but we made sure she (and the other two that would follow). The first few days were a blur, a combination of the newness and excitement, and the fact that I had had major surgery just a month before.
As soon as that fog lifted, I noticed something. I was one of the VERY few moms that worked outside the home. This shouldn’t have been so surprising, as I was the only woman on my street that drove to work every day. I guess I didn’t think it was important.
My mother lived with us and walked my daughter to and from school every day. My husband and I attended meetings, conferences, and events, and I volunteered in class as my work schedule would allow. Admittedly, I suffered tremendous “mom guilt” day in and day out.
Being a lifetime subscriber to the ranks of the socially anxious, I didn’t think much about the fact that most of the other moms seemed a bit standoffish. I did become friends with a few, the two other “working” moms and one much older mom that didn’t quite fit in either. Then, came Volunteer Morning…
All parents who had volunteered in class during the year were invited to watch the class sing a song and have a muffin. Then, the Class Parent presented each and every one of us with a certificate and said a few words about our contribution. She was kind enough to point out which part of volunteering each parent excelled. Until she got to me. I can still remember what she said about me. It went like this: “Even though she has a job, she managed to find time to help out in class on occasion. I’m sure it was difficult”.
Maybe it doesn’t type out quite like it sounded, without the tone in her voice or the scowl on her face. Or, was it me? Did I imagine all of that as some sort of manifestation of mom guilt? I was mortified. My eyes welled up with tears and I could barely take the certificate from her hands.
After getting to know this Class Parent over the years through sports and higher grades, I suspect it was a combination of both. I do know that I will never judge one’s commitment to their child or their child’s education based upon how or if they work.
So, Class Parent, thank you for teaching me a valuable lesson. It stays with me each and every day.