“Interested in being a class parent?” The question was boldly printed on one of the many sheets in my daughter’s school packet, mailed to our home before she started second grade last year. We had just moved to the district, and being a class mom seemed like a great way to get to know my daughter’s new teachers and some of the other parents. As a work-from-home mom who lived near the school, it was a great fit. I enthusiastically volunteered. And I discovered a few things along the way.
While all of the parents were enthusiastic and frequently emailed about classroom events, I found many of the volunteer slots were filled by the same group of stay-at-home and work-from-home parents. Whenever there were too few volunteers, I happily filled in, chaperoning the class tree walk and barking out numbers during math labs. But then something unforeseen happened. Halfway through the year, I unexpectedly returned to work full-time. Suddenly, unable to volunteer myself for activities, I felt increasingly self-conscious about seeing those same names on each class party list. With each classroom event, I felt worse and worse about asking these dedicated parents to give their time in ways I myself could not.
This year, when I received the form in my son’s kindergarten packet asking if I wanted to be a class parent, I was sad to pass it by. With only ten vacation days each year, which I need to parcel out like the last cans of food during an apocalypse, it’s just too hard for me to commit to classroom activities during the workday — at least not until I’ve been at my job a little longer. I’m disappointed to be missing out on being a substantial part of my son’s classroom experience. That said, I’m incredibly grateful to the troupe of parents who make volunteering at school a priority. Without you, my kids might not have someone to help them create heart people at the class Valentine’s Day party, or make sure no one gets lost at the aquarium, or help my budding actors get dressed before the class play — all the things that make school smoother, safer, and a little more special.
I know, as the months go by, it may feel as though everything is falling on your shoulders. You’re the one helping out on Healthy Heart Day yet again. By January you’re probably sick of construction paper and glitter glue. (In all fairness, I think we all hate glitter glue.) I get it. If I could get the time off, I would be at every event. But since I can’t, I want to thank you for stepping in to make our children’s classroom experience that much richer and meaningful. My kids’ education is better because you give your time in ways I can’t right now. And while sometimes that makes me feel like a terrible mom, it’s comforting to know parents like you are there in the classroom, cheering on not just your kids but all of our kids. I want you to know that I see you and I thank you.
I’m hopeful there will come a time in my life when I can be a class parent again (although I may be the Class Grandparent at that point). I’ll happily relieve you of that third math lab of the month or help the kids make paper gingerbread men at the class holiday party. Until then, this mom is grateful for all that you do… and, class moms and dads, please let me know when you need more wipes or paper towels. I’m on the case!