Before I start let me say – I am pro-teacher, pro-education, and pro-parental involvement. In a perfect world I would volunteer, be a part of the PTO, run the girl scouts group, and coach basketball (or softball, I’m up for either). Me, my husband and my 2.5 kids (because that’s the national average) would live in a nice white house with a picket fence and a dog and a cat, and I would be a stay at home Mom that primary focus would be taking care of my family. My husband would make enough money where I didn’t have to work – or feel the need to – and I would do all the things that the Mom’s of the 50’s did – except do it in 2014.
I applaud teachers who go above and beyond, who give up their evenings and weekends to put extra into our kids. Who spend their own money to get the supplies they need because the school won’t cough up the money, and the parents won’t buy the supplies. HOWEVER, life isn’t Leave it to Beaver, and I’m certainly not Jane Cleaver. I work full-time as well as run my blog. I was a single Mom for many years, and still sometimes am as my husband is an OTR truck driver who is home every other weekend – if we’re lucky. My house is nice, but its a lot of work especially when you have a flood in the basement and you have to clean it up alone, along with dinner to make, Science projects to finish, homework to help with, kids to get ready for bed, and don’t forget clean-up.
10 p.m when I should be heading to bed is when I get to sit down and get the only relax time I get in an evening – working on my blog post. Or catching up on emails from my day job. If I’m lucky I get to bed at midnight, though usually 1 a.m., and I’m up at 6:30 to get my oldest off to middle school.
Because of the bus schedule and my fear to leave my kids alone at the bus stop, I am literally late to work every single day. I’ve worked it out with my boss who approved it before I was even hired – but try explaining that to co-workers who get there on time everyday. But who else can do it? I can’t afford to hire someone else just to get them on the bus.
On top of the late to work everyday career that I lead, I also leave early 1 – 2 times a week so I can pick one kid up from some sort of practice or another. On the other nights I tend to work late because I feel guilty that I am always late and leaving early, though I’m a Mom and I’m just doing that job too.
When school starts back there are Doctor appointments for shots and school check ups. our family physicians latest appointment is 4:15 – so again, guess who gets to leave work early? Then there are open houses, then the teacher meet n’ greet not for just 1 kid, but 3. Sometimes I get lucky and 2 are on the same nite and I rush from one class to another hoping not to miss anything. All of these seem to occur at 4 p.m. which means I leave work early again. Oh then we move on to the parent/teacher conferences which of course are always at 4, 4:30 or 5, which again, I must leave work early for.
The guilt weighs on my mind and my heart each and every time. When I miss an event I disappoint my kids – when I miss work, I disappoint my boss and co-workers, and feel inadequate…and nervous. See I don’t work just because I want money to go shopping on, or save for vacations. I work so that I can pay the bills, buy the groceries, and take care of my children. I don’t work because I want to, I work because I have to.
Sometimes I’ll go a month without having to leave early – then comes the quarterly award ceremonies at 9:30 a.m – which leaves me calling to let them know I will be even later than usual after seeing the look on my daughter’s face when I told her I probably wouldn’t make it. Usually by then, I’m all out of vacation time. Which means my check is cut short.
I do all this for my kids because I love them – I sacrifice, I live to take care of my family.
But recently I’ve noticed a lot more ‘required’ after school hour activities and my frustration has been building. I have a wonderful support system of a Mom and sister that will help me out in a pinch, but what about other Moms who don’t??
This week my daughter had a band recital that was REQUIRED. This was 2 days after my basement flooded, 1 day after the plumber finally showed up. and after 2 long days at work. What I needed to do was go home and work on my mess of a basement, and then maybe relax for just a bit before getting back at it again. But I couldn’t – my 10 year old was REQUIRED to attend this recital, and she is quite anal about her grades. The thought of missing it upset her, so I begrudgingly told her we would make it. I left work to rush and pick her up to rush back to the other side of town to make it to the school to get to her concert. She walked in the door just as they were getting on stage and we sat down just before they started playing. My heart was racing, I was tired, and I was MAD. This concert lasted all of 10 minutes – this was first year band and they played 3 songs, which might I add, not even the complete songs.
By the time she got back to us, and we got out of the parking lot it was too late for me to cook (so let’s add some out to eat expense to that) and our entire schedule was thrown off, not to mention I didn’t get to work on my mess of a basement!!
Then I started thinking -what about the Moms who work nights? The parents who don’t have a car, the ones who just can’t make it? My other daughter informed me of the same rules, in which I received an email about as well which part read:
Not having a ride is not an excuse to miss this concert, and your grade will be jeopardy.”
Were not talking high school here people – this is 7th graders. 12 year olds. If I was a single Mom working nights and my 12 yr old stayed at home I would NOT want someone else to give them a ride. Heck, I hardly let them ride with anyone else as it is!!
Then I started thinking about all the other unfair practices to single parents (not just Moms) when it comes to school and extra curricular.
My daughter’s science fair project cost me nearly $50. It wasn’t even extravagant. This cut into my grocery budget – imagine those who don’t have a budget to cut into??!
I signed my daughter up for track and they had to have the same tennis shoes, even though I just bought her a new pair a few months ago at the beginning of school. Who has money to buy 2 pairs of nice sneakers in a 3 month period??
My middle schoolers had a field trip that they will be attending in April – but money was required NOW. There were limited spots available, so they needed the money in less than a 14 day period. $75 isn’t chump change to me, though I was able to pull it off. What about other parents??
School supplies have always been a hard one for me, though I know the school needs it. But 50 number 2 pencils? I don’t think my son will go through 20 all year. 10 glue sticks RIGHT NOW? 4 boxes of tissues? PLUS school fees? Times this by 3, plus school clothes, shoes, and book bags and it’s a mini fortune.
Don’t get me started on school pictures and yearbooks!