May 17, 2011

Volunteer Hell

So you finally get through the baby and toddler stage, enjoying every moment of it, of course!  And then the kids go to school.  You’re ready to clean up that pile of old medical bills on the counter and file them away.  Then you are hoping to put those 45-8×10’s that you ordered so many years ago of each year of preschool and Little League games and Christmas at Grammy’s.  You might even be artistic and make a wall of fabulous family moments.  You are picturing learning new recipes so the kids don’t have to pretend to enjoy the same five meals, rotated in different patterns each week.  And lastly, you might, just might get yourself a little pedicure.  And in case you’ve forgotten, that’s where you sit in a big squooshy chair and people other than yourself, fondle and scrub and paint your toenails in a way that you don’t even recognize that it is the same activity you do for yourself.  At least, I think that’s how I remember a pedicure. 

(See picture—that was my last pedicure—by my 4 year old.  And it was truly decadent in its own rite.)Mommy Pedicure

And THEN, that ole reality check comes in the mail.  And you realize once again, you’re past freaking due!  Really?  I have to do WHAT now that my kids are in school?  And why the hell am I not just homeschooling?  I’d have more free time!  The kids could do homework for an hour each morning, and then watch movies the rest of the day—while I do those things I’ve been putting in the “one day I’ll have time, but for now—I don’t want to miss my children’s beautiful moments” pile!  Moms of grown up children always say—don’t’ worry about the house, don’t worry about all those little things because the kids grow up so fast!  And so I did!  I didn’t worry about the dirty house or the piles, and now I’m surrounded by piles and stuff, and bursting with energy, ready to clean it up.  And so I enter the “Volunteer Hell Zone”.  It’s a new place that I don’t remember from my own childhood.  My mom definitely went on field trips and the like, but she did not live through the Volunteer Era of the evolutionary chain.  And there will be leftovers to put in museums throughout the world—because we as moms and humans will have to grow new arms and legs and brains and energy storehouses in order to make it through this stage of history. 

We now are expected to volunteer for f***ing EVERYTHING.  Let me explain—if you are not already part of this phenomenon.  First of all, my youngest son goes to a very fabulous and amazing preschool.  And you can pay either full price for preschool or you can volunteer three days a month (he goes three days a week, mind you) and get a price break.  I like the price break.  And there’s the charming–being part of your child’s day—even though I was hoping to mentally recover during this time—but pishety posh…  who needs that.  Sooooo, that’s a little under twelve hours a month. 

Then my OTHER son goes to this fabulous  and amazing elementary school where we are expected to volunteer three hours a month.  Okedokeee, off I go.  And since I got the “disappointed call” from the principal at the end of last year, letting me know, very constructively, that I had not met my volunteer hours for the year—I strove to meet the quota this year and received a very nice homemade card for that.  God Bless the volunteers who volunteered the time to make a card to thank me for volunteering my time…  oy…  the gift that keeps on giving.  I accomplished this feat by putting my other son in extended care at his preschool after I volunteer at his school, so I can volunteer at my other son’s school.  You’re with me, right?  Then I volunteered to collect box tops, which is the process of collecting a bunch of little teeny tiny pieces of paper that are worth ten cents apiece, giving the school money once the little beasts are collected, tallied (sometimes 600 little damn pieces of paper to be counted), cut and mailed in by so many awesome moms, I cannot tell you.  Sometimes I would rather just work at Starbucks and donate the freaking money to the school instead.  It’s much less demeaning.  And really–this is the brain child that was intended to boost our education funds in the United States?  NO wonder we’re behind in a couple things globally, like again—education.  Give us the damn money instead of creating more chores when we should be hanging out with our kids?!!  But as usual, I digress. 

Back to volunteering in my older son’s room, I spend time in my older son’s classroom, the fabulous and amazing  teacher doesn’t really promote that kind of volunteering.  She told me my son does worse when I’m in the classroom…  thus pours another cold bucket of water on my psyche…  I have to do more box tops!!!!  How much damage, exactly, do you think that will do to my first grader, if I volunteer IN the classroom instead of outside???  What do you mean by “worse”.  I hate box tops!!! 

And lastly but not leastly (yes, I made that up word—super clever), I was asked to volunteer last year for the local moms club, which is also fabulous and amazing.  Lucky for me, there are so many fabulous and amazing places for to participate in.  The silver lining is never lost on me, mind you.  But as president of that board, I find myself volunteering daily for little emails and big questions and fairs and parties and the such for our beautiful and lucky children.  And as I come out of office for that, I am made aware that there is a leadership position or two open at the elementary school for moms who have time to give.  Puh-lease!  Who doesn’t love to give?!  Now there are many other moms that help with all those little things.  We are like little buzzing bees, running about doing our job for free!  That’s like four jobs I do for free now —just like the multitude of guilt-ridden mommies just like me!  I have an MBA.  I should have gone to school for non-profit leadership!  That’s what we stay at home moms need training in now!  And I realize it makes the world a better place and all that!  But I’m wondering if I just work as much as moms who work full time, only I say—super high and mighty— I’m “with” my kids all day???  And do I really want that—to be together ALL the time?  Am I stupid enough to work for free all the time, or I am that fabulous Good Samaritan?  I ask you, because I don’t know.  But I felt it needed to be pondered—and pondered ruthlessly.  And I’ll probably finish writing this and find I am late to my volunteering as preschool aide this morning.  And when the teacher asks me why I’m late…  I’ll probably say, “I was just bitching!”  Do YOU get paid for your job?  And wouldn’t we infuse our economy if we exchanged money instead of volunteer hours for all these services?  Wouldn’t our GDP go up substantially if all the women I know who “don’t work” were paid even $.10/hour for volunteer services rendered?  Well, we’ll work on that idea once we get a couple other things figured out for our economy, like that nasty recession we’re out of.  Someone please tell my house value that!  In the meantime, I feel better now.  I may skip my morning martini.