Tales of a Recovering Classroom Volunteer Mom

Thanksgiving Feast Day

A few months ago it was Thanksgiving Feast day at my four-year-old’s school. This day was a culmination of many weeks of learning about autumn. We were to create corn husk dolls, make butter and eat a delicious Thanksgiving meal together.

Sign Here

A form was sent home asking for volunteers. My instinct was to go ahead and sign my name on the line, but something stopped me. There was a line just below the “volunteer” line that said, “attend.”

WAIT A MINUTE. This is even an option?? I’m certain it’s been on every paper I’ve ever received, but my super type-A didn’t for one moment consider that I could (ahem, would) attend an event as a guest and not run the darn show. Why wouldn’t I volunteer, anyway?

It’s More Than It Seems

Let’s pause to take a look at the cycle of events that happens when I volunteer to help or run pretty much anything at my kids’ schools.

  1. I go into planning mode & spend who-knows-how-long getting prepped
  2. I miss hours of work to get there early & stay late to clean up
  3. I don’t get to spend **that** much time with my kid
  4. I leave feeling good but equally stressed at the weight of having said event on my shoulders

Empty-Hands, Full-Heart

For once in my career as a mother, I checked the “attend” box. I didn’t volunteer to bring a dish. I showed up empty-handed. I left straight from work. I didn’t help every kid there without a parent, though I did hold a baby, once.

I sat with my daughter and made her corn husk doll one-on-one. We shook the heavy cream until it felt like our arms were going to fall off and we made our butter. We had a picnic on the floor, a space all to ourselves and ate a scrumptious Thanksgiving feast. She told me what she loved about each food and she asked for help with her doll and we brainstormed about what to cook for our own family the following week. It was glorious.

The Event Must Go On (without me)

As it turns out, the Earth will NOT stop spinning if I’m not there to push it. Gravity takes over and voila! My daughter’s class is lucky enough to have ample participation from other parents so my lack of volunteerism is not met with disdain. This is not to say I’ll never volunteer again, but now that I’ve experienced the “attend” side, it may become my new, stress-free, daughter bond-building normal. And I’m finally at a point in my life where I’m more than okay with letting go of the wheel.


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