Monday, 27 May 2013

Joiner moms

I've always laughed a little bit at those uber-active, over-involved moms, chairing this committee and sitting on that one, organizing the school concert and fundraisers, acting as convener for the baseball league, volunteering to hang fliers for the local theatre and pick up donations for the church yard sale.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think there's anything wrong with being that involved. I think it's great. I admire the hell out of women with that much energy and enthusiasm left over after working, taking care of the kids, cleaning the house and doing the laundry and the grocery shopping. Some people are just like that - they're joiners. These are the people who were involved in student council and yearbook committee and varsity sports way back in the day. But it is kind of entertaining to watch these moms bustling into the school office with boxes and boxes of sports bottles to sell at recess, scurrying over to talk to the coach after every soccer practice, passing out clipboards for snack sign-up sheets and taking the minutes at every meeting. They just look so - busy.

And the thing is, it's always the same few moms. You know without even looking that their hand will be the first in the air when anyone's looking for volunteers - it doesn't even matter what they're volunteering for.

The very first mom I met when we moved to Pleasantville a few years ago was one of those moms. I didn't realize it at first - new to the neighbourhood, new to the community, and new to the school I was still just figuring everything out. Our sons became instant best friends on the first day of school so I had to seek her out in the schoolyard and introduce myself to extend a party invitation - the only "new friend" invited to join Eldest Son's friends from the old neighbourhood for his birthday party. After that, we chatted every day - I can be kind of shy and nervous about meeting new people, so a familiar, friendly face in the schoolyard sea of moms was nice. She was a fountain of information about the school, the teachers, the principal, the community groups, the sports teams, the local events. She introduced me to other moms (she knows everyone) whose names escaped me the moment I shook their hands, but it gave me a few more people to smile and nod at as I waited to pick up the boys each afternoon. It took a few months before I realized why she knew everything about everyone and everything - she was a joiner mom.

She's a member of parent council. She chairs the school fundraising committee. Her son plays rep hockey and her daughter's in competitive gymnastics - and she volunteers for both organizations. She's a joiner. She's super involved. She does it all and does it well.

I'm fairly involved as a parent - I've always attended school council meetings, I've volunteered in the boys' classrooms and on field trips, I've coordinated team snacks for their sports and I even coached their baseball team one season. But I've never really seen myself as one of those moms, the ones with their fingers in every aspect of their kids' and communities' lives, the hyper-involved, endlessly energetic ones who volunteer tirelessly for everything.

And yet, as time went on and we realized that this was going to be our forever home, I found myself becoming a lot more involved. It happened without planning. It happened without even noticing. After attending school council meetings for an entire year, I joined parent council. Just to be more informed and have some input. Once I was involved in parent council, I found myself volunteering for one, then another, then all of the school fundraising campaigns. Once both my older boys were in school full-time, I joined a local mom and baby group with Baby. I had a few suggestions and an idea for an event and all of a sudden I found myself the group's community manager. The kids' soccer teams needed someone to take charge of communications - so guess who stepped up?

Last weekend our Middle child had his entire class - twenty kids - over for his birthday Pirate Party. Pirate themed, from the food and cake to the decor and swag to the games and crafts - and even pirate costumes for the guests. It was the first time we've ever done a party of that size at home - ever since the kids have been old enough to have "friend parties" we've had them at other venues (the wave pool, the bowling alley, Chuck E Cheese). When that mom friend of mine showed up to drop off her kids (her daughter is the birthday boy's best friend and we invited her son to keep my eldest company) she looked around at the party set-up and the number of kids, shook her head, and said, "I don't know how you manage it with everything else you do. You're amazing."

Looks like I've become one of those moms.


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