18 August 2009

Room mothering: F+

I am the selfish, neglectful, worldly Concordian Sister who is sending her child to first grade this week (jk! I know not a soul thinks that ;) ). This has not really been a choice for us*. If we are still here in eight years when, DV, our oldest child finishes at this school (which I hope we will be), we will have no choice then but to homeschool.

Given this situation, I labor not to fret over a situation which offers me, for all practical purposes since none of our children appear at this time to be "hard cases," no choices. If the choice were ours, I honestly don't know what we would do, because there hasn't been any point in thinking about it. So this post is totally not about "deciding" about homeschooling--I know numerous others who are similarly bound, whether that means they must homeschool or they can't.

What this circuitous preface is leading up to is a post about being CSPP and a school mom. And what that is about is stinking it up. I was a terrible school mom last year. It was often impossible for me to get to school functions at which parental attendance was invited/requested. Why? Because I have three younger kids.

Dragging my entourage along on field trips would have made a disaster out of the trip for everyone else who is not used to our disastrous way of life (even if stage performances and such were baby-friendly venues). I couldn't fit any other kids in my car anyway because it's filled up with my own. If I helped on party day, I spent the whole time keeping the baby out of the rabbit cage and trying to prevent the [then] 2-yr-old from packing away a fifth cupcake instead of whatever Froot Loop stringing or Bozo Bucketeering I was supposed to be facilitating.

When yet another paper comes home requiring me to check "Yes, I'll be there" or "No, I don't care about this important reminiscible** event in my precious child's life so I'll be sitting on my can at home eating chips," I feel pretty worthless. Because, see, I would have a legit excuse for not being there if I were working. Or if I were a really good "working mom," I would take the afternoon off and go on the field trip. Since I'm an at-home mom, I'm supposed to show up for this stuff. But for some reason I keep having kids and providing all the evidence anyone needs to prove how this leads to the neglect of those already in existence.

Homeschoolers, I salute your toils, and I anticipate they will be my own some day. In the meantime, I've got this to make me doubt my maternal fitness.

And on the odd chance that anyone is reading this who is or hopes to be a homeschooler and is wondering what would become of her life if homeschooling became a great deal less do-able: I can tell you from both a parental and a post-teaching perspective that there is LOTS of work to be done just down the hall from your kids as a school mom, and always more work to be contrived ex nihilo in support of a school. Scrip! Book fairs! Getting rid of 30 years' worth of trophies in the basement! Pointless gimmicky sentimental events to plan! Teacher Appreciation Semester! Teams to coach! Terminally ill geckos to make comfortable! Buses to learn to drive! Elective courses to teach on a volunteer basis! And all of it with the help of your younger kids. The fun never ends. EVER.

*In some Lutheran parishes, it is not a big deal if the pastor's family homeschools, and in others it is. We are blessed to have a veritably Lutheran school in our backyard. I almost feel bad about how well the place has catechized our child--but then Dad has something to do with it too. :)

**Since when did the point of childrearing become packing a kid's hippocampus (thank you, Gauntlets) with phosphorescence? Remind me to rant about that sometime.


Tom Bombadil said...

Our school does not *allow* younger siblings at classroom events, which pretty much eliminates me from doing anything but dropping off snacks. I am fortunate enough to have grandma 1.5 hours away, so I try to enlist her to come over once a year or so and watch my littles so I can chaperon something.

JenniferH said...

I, personally, love the mental image of you wearing your Polly Perky apron while facilitating the Bozo Bucketeering. Does this include a Bozo the clown wig?


Dakotapam said...

Rebekah, We don't have much choice either...and I do love our Lutheran School, though the tuition bill has forced me to work outside the home part time (until baby arrives-yippee!) I am a horrible room mother as well, but remember, there are plenty of moms who would love to outdo you and I anyway. I sit back and let supermoms do their things. Some days I think Homeschooling was easier...at least if all of the socks were dirty, the world no longer stopped spinning we just schooled in bare feet.

Gauntlets said...

I still stand by my blurted complaint, made previously, but you've given me much to consider. I do not like terminally ill geckos. Or, as we homeschoolers like to call them, waning gekkonidae. ;P

Blurt Two: I do not like that being an at-home mom automatically obligates me to any task asked of me by anyone at all.

Rebekah said...

Hey dol! :D My easiest school events were the postpartum (!) ones for which grandma crossed four states to be in town. :P

JenniferH, no aprons. But I did get compliments from other moms for my skill in yelling at other people's kids to shape up.

Dakotapam, so true. I'm amazed by how seriously some people take school and the ridiculous traditions which have sprung up around it. Sheesh.

Gauntlets, blurt away. I've considered taping a sign to my back that says, "Do not expect or ask me to to do or show up for anything you would not expect or ask your nanny, cook, housekeeper, or other Help to do or show up for."

EKGaunt said...

Here, here!

What's with these crazy folks, anyway? They wouldn't expect a daycare provider walk out on the job for an afternoon to shuffle another batch of kids to the *whatever*.

The Rev. BT Ball said...

I would take a trip to see the pastor about your having to work to send the kiddies to the Lutheran School. In my opinion, if paying tuition for the congregation's day school necessitates a mother leaving the home and working, then we are not dealing with a Lutheran school as they formerly were known, but something completely different. Statement above - Reason #2064 why I won't get elected synodical vice-president. Let the reader understand.

lisa said...

haha -
it would seem to me that if you've mastered yelling at other people's kids then you have transcended Room Mothering 101 and should inform folks that just as they wouldn't ask the Dalai Lama to bother which such frivolity neither should they request attendence of the only mom capable of not only discilining her children, but other's as well.

To make the point I suggest signing any permission slips with the handle "Rebekah, Queen Bee" - I mean, you've got like twelve kids, right? How much more proof do they need of your transcendence? :)

How this helps Pam is the new possibility this opens up for moms of your caliber. See, you can start working at home (cha-ching - you totally become the perfect* mom in this scenario) as a tutor for mothers not capable of disciplining their children and let them observe you screaming at your kids all day and breaking their wills for Jesus. They will then pay YOU to train them, while really you just stay at home eating said chips and yelling from the can. And - (bonus) your husband will get man cred at the church because he has such an industrious wife who can earn money from home like, you know, you should be anyway.

*Perfect = perfectly insane and people-pleasing

Sorry, I haven't had a nap in a few days.

Rebekah, you're welcome to yell at my kids. Room Mothering really is mostly about the yelling and not the cupcakes IMHO :)

Reb. Mary said...

I feel this way about VBS and Sunday School. There's only so much a body can do to help when a body is outnumbered by the attendant little bodies, who undo as fast as we can do.

Rebekah said...

Lisa, I am really pleased to learn of my transcendence! :D