This year has been busy for our family with the mama taking 3 classes and the daddy travelling a lot. So my ability at most times to get through the daily bustle of family life is limited to basic essentials: meals, bathing, homework and driving to and from school. While my kids are in school I have also been en route to and fro or in class myself. I have done most of my grocery shopping on the fly and all my cooking in erratic patterns. When dad is gone, we are less likely to sit together for a meal because I can more easliy feed them when they express hunger – which is always at different times, rather than prepare one meal which inevitably turns someone’s stomache to the point that 2nd and 3rd meals are required.

Bottom line…I just don’t have time to be in the kitchen all evening. I stock the fridge with healthy finger foods, lunch meat, fruit and cheese, occasional frozen convenience foods and basically feed my children with as much effort as I feed my pets. Well, okay, that’s an exaggeration. There is always one hot item on the menu at dinner. I don’t particularly love this system, it’s just what I have had to do in order to manage everything I have to juggle. It isn’t ideal, but it is far from traumatic for them, this I know.

And when it comes to volunteering at school, I don’t. I go on a decent number of field trips, stop in for the big stuff and that’s usually about it. No Room Mom, no fundraisers, no lunch mom, no book fair; none of that. I appreciate the work other moms do to support our school and our kids. I know it’s a great thing to make the time to work for no paycheck in order that your child can see you around and know you care. I did a lot of that when my kids were in preschool and kindergarten. My life revolved around them and I enjoyed being there with them. But as the kids get older I find that volunteering has a funny way of often distracting me from them. If I’m helping to plan the picnic, my duties at the function make it difficult for me to interact with my kids and enjoy that experience. I have an entire class who then sees me as the person to ask when they have a need. These days, I just don’t have it to go around. I have recently realized that not only do I not feel guilty about this, I’m glad I can recognize that I shouldn’t. For a while I did.

And my kids are really happy at school. They know I’m not the mom who will be signing up for everything on my own accord so I wait to see what’s really important to them and I make time for that. Looking back into the past, I see how my soul often guided me to make choices based on my deeper, subconsious desires. My wish to go back to school when my last baby was one seemed out of the blue to me, but very right. I didn’t know it then, but my soul knew that I was not cut out to be the “mom up at school” when my kids would become full-day students and I would need to find for myself productive things to fill my time with. This isn’t because I think I’m smarter than those helpful volunteering moms, just not as nice maybe. Or not as charitable. Or, to be fair; less inclined to give in that area of my life. I’m the sort of person who thinks about life in levels. When talking about needs and people who have them, we know there are always going to be different “levels” of need. There are kids who need a volunteering mom on the playground to be sure touch football doesn’t get too wild, and there are kids who need to figure out where their next meal will come from. At our school, it is my suspicion all kids are doing just fine and my presence there will not make a formidable difference in the life of a child, mine or anyone else’s. I know that many of the children who go to school with my kids are more privelaged than my own: they go on beautiful vacations on a regular basis, moms have cleaning ladies and gardeners who lighten the load so they can have more quality time at home; beautiful, plush homes where everything is extra nice and cozy. Is it really going to kill these kids to have to wait for something because there aren’t a plentitude of helping hands there to assist them? And truthfully with the amount of taxes I pay for these schools, if they need moms to volunteer time to administer tests and stuff folders, something seems very wrong. Then I wonder, do they come up with these endless duties to in fact give the busy-body moms who can’t seem to turn it around and head home after dropping kids off something to do? I have no idea what the reality of the world of non-paid school staff is all about. I know lots of moms who fulfill these jobs and I seem to get the idea some do it for themselves and some genuinely for the cause of supporting a well-run educational system. This is where I divide the lunch moms from the room moms. Room Moms work a labor of love and what they do is selfless and behind the scenes. Lunch moms get the glory of being seen at the time their kids are not studying. I tried to be lunch mom, it didn’t work out. I attempted to be room mom, but the task was so huge I didn’t have the ability to manage it. And anything else in between seems like fluff. So if there will be any volunteering going on for me, it will have to be where the need is dire. I know if every parent had my mentality our school would suck, so I thank God he made us all different. Because if everyone in the world thought working in a soup kitchen on a regular basis was too gross and unpretty, lot’s of people would be going to bed with the belly pains of hunger.

For right now, I have no time for school or soup, just for my own kids. But I bless the moms who do; who have the patience and time and desire to throw themselves into the thick of things to benefit the greater good. They make ours an above average public school. I value what they do collectively to make things special for all the kids, mine included.

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