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OK, perhaps it's because I've had an extra glass of wine tonight, or perhaps it's because I am tired of getting these types of messages from my kids' school, but why do people HATE WORKING PARENTS???

Tonight I start reading through the materials that were sent home with my kids and I see this note from the Parent's Group from our school. It goes on to say how they need volunteers for this and that, and bemoan the fact that participation in low, and the Parent's group meets at 9 am in the morning during the week without exception. As a working parent, there is no way I can attend. That tells me that either they don't need my help, or they don't want it.

In the past I have sewn 20 Muchnkin vests for the school play, and quilted a quilt that was made from artwork from the children for a fundraiser. My husband is the school's volunteer basketball coach! We have demonstrated that we are more than willing to work for the benefit of the school. I do charity work for my guild all the time. I can make time to help, but at present, I am not invovled in anything....because they choose to exclude me. They make me feel judged for not being a stay at home Mom, ready to go to their early weekday meetings. They can kiss my.....

Thus endeth the rant.

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Comment by Jennifer Evans on September 28, 2010 at 8:26pm
I need to add to this comment...I do get comments like "I see your husband here all the time, but we never see you!" If I were a man, this would NEVER be uttered. My husband and I both feel that whomever is able to do a task, be it cooking, cleaning, diaper changing (when the kids were young), they should do it. My husband lost his high-flying consulting job not long before my son was born. For years he was a stay-at-home Dad and I can say with confidence that NOBODY did it better than him. My kids are well-adjusted, flexible, intelligent, and have a great sense of humor. They know it's my job to "bring home the bacon" and dad is the one who has more of the domestic responsibilities. It's just how it all worked out and I am grateful that I have a husband who had no predisposed notions of what a man's role is and what a woman's role is. We just do what is right for our family. Again, we have nothing to apologize for.
Comment by Jennifer Evans on September 28, 2010 at 8:19pm
Thanks Christi and Nancy! I appreciate your support. My kids usually let me know when I am needed. I just need to ignore the others who feel it's not enough. My husband is really involved in the school, which is why I find the judgement so baffling. He works part time and is able to coach the basketball team, (being criticized the whole time), plays tuba with the school band (the band director says they need some bass), and helps out with after-school occasionally. From my perspective, our family pulls our weight. It's seems a bit sexist, in my opinion, that I need to be the one volunteering for all this stuff. It's just irritating.
Comment by christi on September 27, 2010 at 10:35pm
Jennifer don't feel bad about venting, especially to us and boy do you have a reason to vent about this. I think for the most part we all 'have been there done that'. For the first 4 years that my kids attended school not only did I work full time, but was still in the military. There was a lack of understanding of why I couldn't commit to things. I can't tell you how many times I booked time off to do school things to have to cancel due to military issues (it was gulf war, then onto bosnia). No I did not go to either place but as the clinic coordinater for our base we had many times where the clinic had to screen 2 to 3 hundred members for dental fitness in a two day period. What alot of team work but as the administrative person it was my respondsibility to ensure all ran smooth. I gave as much as I could when I could. Other parents in other walk of life were in the same position.
The year my son entered kindergarden I retired and then did the daytime stuff in the school, you know the reading mom, class prep stuff for the teacher etc. I also started to attend PTA meetings. While ours were at night my husband was a night worker and getting a babysitter was not so easy a task.
The first year I was a volunteer coordinator for one of the kids classes. This involved calling all the parents in the class to see what services they could offer us. Boy did I take alot of flack spending much of the time during those calls placating parents. Alot of them were defensive because they worked full time etc. When I took time to explain that sometimes all we might need from them would be as small as sending a treat to enhance an activity and yes I understand why they were not with the rest of us in the school since I too had been where they were and was very fortunate to be able to do what I was now, it sure calmed alot of tempers. I guess some of them had been guilted by others previously too.
I stayed involved until we moved to our present home. At the start of the school year off I went to the grade schoolvolunteer meeting, held in the morning. Put my name in and did not even receive a call. The next year off I go to try again, after a month I went directly to my son's teacher who gave me the number of the volunteer group. I can you can figure out that I never did give my services to that school. At the same time my oldest was in high school where I did get involved both in the PTA and band parent council where after 5 years I finally had to abscent myself from involvement to get new parents to involved. I did not want it to look like we were an exclusive group since that is not healthy for a commitee.
I have seen and been both sides of the fence where it is either we are exclusive or it is always the same faces who give their time. Finally because we could not get more parents involved I learned to say no really well. The ony way to get others involved sometmes is when there is no one else to do the job.
No matter what you are dammed if you do and dammed if you don't. I learned to give when my kids asked and when it made them happy. My involvement for the most part was driven by them, as a joint choice. It made them proud and happy for me to be involved.
My last volunteer act was at my son's grad retreat and the making of his grad banner. To be asked by by son to do both made me very happy.
So be there for your kids, do what makes them happy. Try to get the meetings alternated so that more parents can get involved if they want (dads too) and go directly to the teacher to see what you can do. From what you say you are very involved and concerned with activities that affect your kids, don't worry about what others say worry about what you do, it is more important.
Sorry to be so verbose but as you might have figured out this has been a throne to me as well.
Comment by Nancy B/OHIO on September 24, 2010 at 11:12am
Jennifer, I was a stay at home mom when we moved to Ohio when my girls were young. I did the volunteer thing at the school, PTO president, GirlScout leader, soccer coach and many more things. None of this was done to make either a stay at home parent or a full time employed outside the home mom feel bad. I had friends and neighbors who were unable to volunteer due to work or family related issues. We all managed to find ways to pitch into the school and the activities where possible. Don't feel pressure to do more than you can. Some can contribute time, others can contribute energy. We always had things for parents to help with, even if it was being the ticket taker at the door for the concerts. You should be proud that you are able to help out, and the school's parents organization needs to provide ways that everyone, no matter what their schedules, can contribute to the betterment of their child's education. Sorry so long winded, but I know just how you feel. I tried very hard to include all parents and care-givers when I was in charge but sometimes we forget there are those who work different hours and swing shifts that are part of the organization. Hopefully, your school will provide ways for everyone to lend a hand and not feel slighted. Good luck and keep volunteering. The kids need all the help and support that they can get.
Comment by Jennifer Evans on September 23, 2010 at 6:45pm
I wanted to thank everyone for their advice and understanding. I re-read my post this evening and am kind of embarrassed at the expression of anger. Perhaps wine and blogging don't mix. I know the women who run this group mean well. I need to just take a deep breath and relax. I do what I can and I have nothing to apologize for.
Comment by Susan Barkley on September 23, 2010 at 1:42pm
definitely understand and feel your pain....i have had the same from both sides....when i worked from home it was considered that i had all the time i could spare to volunteer for this and that, even though work entailed 40+ hours at the computer per week.....then when i started working outside the home i became an outcast....belittled because i wasn't available when they wanted, even though, like you, we did lots for the PTA and teachers after hours and on special days when we could take the time off....it looks like teachers and school administrators should appreciate the fact that most parents want to participate but making ends meet these days takes all the working hours you can manage.....
Comment by AidaCJ/NH on September 23, 2010 at 11:54am
Do what is best for you and your kids.
I was a working Mom and also a graduate student when my kids were in grade school. My DD was very good at volunteering me for things she knew I could do without going to any of the meetings - like "Mom can make cookies", "My mother can sew a dress", so the teachers would usually send a note for me asking for things they need - cookies, towels, clown outfits, etc. DH and I were parent volunteers in the HS band, going with them to their shows and trips. I learned that by asking the teachers directly what they need help with is far better than depending on other parents who seem intent on 'being better than the rest'. Come to think of it, our house was always full of teenagers when my DD was in HS always asking us to do things for them because their parents were 'busy', sometimes we had to push them out the door so we could get some sleep. (PS- I never fitted in with the PTO in hs - majority of the members were from the 'upscale' town, while we were from the 'other side of the river', irony of it was the kids of the very same members were the ones always coming to our house)
Comment by Pam/NY on September 23, 2010 at 9:49am
LOL... things never change!!! We did a lot of volunteering when our son was in school, because we wanted to do it. I was in charge of booster club for four years and we tried to include everyone who wanted to help. I never begged, because if that was their attitude, it was easier just to do it ourselves. There's enough that needs to be done in our schools, that no one should ever be discouraged from helping!
Comment by gardengirl/VA on September 23, 2010 at 9:12am
... and then there's the flip-side of people who do work making stay-at-home moms feel bad about their choices. I once had a woman ask me why I wasn't working, "because you're too smart to stay home." I couldn't believe it! I was lucky enough to be able to stay home while I had kids at home during the day... it was MY choice. I started to work when the girls were in school full-time. Then I went through a divorce, and there was no choice anymore.

Now I teach high school and we try and see all sides. The PTSA has events for parents that are held in the evenings because that is what the majority of the parents want.

I've felt the frustration as a parent too -- I could volunteer as a marching band parent on Friday evenings during games and on Saturdays for competitions. But why have appreciation luncheons during the day? Why not have an appreciation pot-luck or tea in the evening instead? I even had a problem with one of my kids' teachers who insisted that my daughter could get math help before school started -- which would have been during the start of my teaching day and as a single parent, there was no way I could get her there. I had to eventually have an administrative meeting to get the issue settled, because the teacher refused to stay after school. And it wasn't because she had family commitments, either. It was "because I come in early"...

What you might want to do is contact the school principal and suggest that maybe every other parent meeting could be held in the evening, so working parents could attend? See if you have friends who are in the same position and could also ask the same thing. You could make it clear to the principal that you feel excluded and want to participate just as much as the at-home parents, but that having meetings only during the makes it impossible for you to contribute your time to your children's school. If the building principal isn't aware that there is a problem, he/she cannot do anything to help.
Comment by Annie on September 23, 2010 at 7:26am
The school my daughter goes to has a nasty habit of asking for volenteers two days befor they need them. Things that are involved with the child's learning is giving two weeks, at least, but if they want help for setting up something for and event, they send it out two days before hand. Dumb, I think. I think you and your husband are doing fine with your volenteer work.

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