The Mosh-Pit Conundrum

She’s back!!  My dear friend, Karen, MWOB extraordinaire, beautiful mama, and incredible writer. Kicking off the week with a MWOB guest blogger makes my heart happy. Enjoy Karen’s unique perspective and don’t forget to show her some comment love.  

I’ve been in the midst of some real-life conundrums (yes, conundrums – a beloved word passed down from my beloved father). The kind of conundrums that keep the wheels turning in your head while you automatically go through the chores of the day and place your replies to your kids on autopilot so as not to fully interrupt your train of thought. See, right now, my daughter is trying to get me to read her a book, but I don’t have time for that sort of thing right now.

Anyway, what I’ve been trying to put my finger on for about, say 6 or 7 years, is…

If Utah is the equivalent of a concert stadium full of radical supermoms (and you have to live here to see this must be true), then does that make the ultimate supermom haven, the PTA, the mosh-pit of supermom-dom? Isn’t PTA the exact center of a school community where moms (and sometimes dads, God bless them) jostle for a place to fit in and stand strong on their own two feet?

I mean, we all know what happens in the mosh-pit, right? It is pretty much impossible to stay still, independent and confident here. This is not a place for peaceful enjoyment, it is a place of maniacal fear – fear of spilled drinks, fear of sweaty smelly pushy people, fear of going deaf, fear of going unnoticed and being trampled… the list of fears is infinite in the mosh-pit. Now that I mention it, I guess this is a lot like the reality of parenthood… a lot of the mosh-pit fears relate, don’t you think?

So I sit here in the middle of the ultimate supermom-land, Utah, in the center of the mosh-pit that is PTA – Hence my conundrum… Nothing strikes fear into the hearts of inadequate moms like me like a PTA meeting, right? So how on God’s snowy, freezing earth did I get here? I mean, truly, is this my life?

I must regress for a minute. I was one of those young, single, career-minded women who looked with disdain at stay-at-home-moms focusing all their energies on OTHERS and leaving NOTHING behind for THEMSELVES! Sound familiar? PTA to me sounded like a little slice of hell. Parents spending inordinate amounts of time focusing on cupcakes and award ribbons, perfecting the art of pats on the back, thumbs up and pom-pom shaking, driving their ungrateful urchins around the world to this and that in a, gasp… MINIVAN! I knew that this picture of domesticity and parent-involvement was not me and was never going to be me – thank the Lord!!!

Well… as a show of what could be divine retribution, or maybe a little of karma kicking me off my high horse… here I am now…

And here…

Yes, I have become my worst nightmare – a PTA mom. I am completely trying to reconcile this part of me with what I consider to be the REAL part of me – the part that is “too cool for school” – WAY too happy to let the supermoms to their own devices, while I kick back and marvel how great it is that I don’t have the patience or skills for PTA.

I bring all this up right now because after 3 years of PTA inactivity (due to the birth of my 3-yr-old who has her own story of survival of the fittest), I AM BACK!

And, guess what? I may not have the patience, but I do have the skills – I’m a television producer and production coordinator for PETE’s SAKE! I can put together a team of motivated parents to organize a literacy week, right? RIGHT! So I’ve realized something as I am back in the familiar school library, taking in the collection of faces all looking at me as I describe what goodies we’ve planned for the teachers and students to promote literacy (gasp! A real, bona-fide, educational goal). What no cupcakes? No pom-poms? My realization is not earth-shattering, it’s not even original…

…PTA is US – you, me – all of us

Parents of all colors, shapes, sizes, backgrounds, cultures, religions, financial groups, social groups, some have jobs outside the home, some don’t, some dress up, some dress down, some look happy, some look downright irritable, some have snotty nosed kids running around, some sit in the back, some in the front, some bring coffee (Lord knows we don’t serve coffee in a Utah PTA meeting), some partake of snacks, some are relaxed, some are rushed… I mean look at it – its EVERYONE!

We all come to the table because of one goal – to be involved in our kids’ lives – to have a voice in what happens in the place they spend the majority of their days in the majority of their formative years.

THIS is EXACTLY why I’m here:

Groups like PTA and other parent-involved groups are intimidating, scary and sometimes appear to be exclusive and cliquish. But I think that is the nature of a mosh-pit. It’s a love-fest for those brave enough to enter into the middle of it. And yes, I still constantly marvel how I ended up here, but I have to say, I’m happy to be here. I’m glad I made the choice (with MUCH trepidation) to jump in – it’s the only way to do it!

The conundrum of how I got here still buzzes around in my head now and again, but I’m starting to look at it more like, “look how far I’ve come” – with a little feeling of pride attached to it, actually!

I’m impressed with the folks that surround me at those PTA meetings. Everyone with their own stories and their own paths to being there. It is SO not my place to judge anyone there, supermom, superdad or supermom imposter (like me). 

So I apologize to PTA parents across the nation back when I was in my 20’s and completely ignorant of what it REALLY means to be a parent. You rock! And to all my friends out there in cyber-land who are still afraid of the PTA – just dip a toe in now and then to see how it feels and then…. You never know, you could be sucked in! Ha! 

Let’s all meet in the mosh-pit soon! I’ll bring the cupcakes and I won’t tell anyone if you need to spike your cup of fruit punch!

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