Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Day 44: School mom

This morning, I go to my child's school to volunteer in the vegetable garden. I spend time alone with lettuces, strawberries, swiss chard, basil, rosemary, sunflowers, lemon mint and white bugs that have infested a lemon tree. I volunteered as a gardener because I like gardening. I feel happy working alone in peace with plants and silent animals (worms). Then at lunch, I find out from my friend who is a working mother that I did it all wrong. Today's WSJ says if you have limited time and want to have the most positive impact on your child from your volunteering deed, you should volunteer where the child can see you in action. My kid didn't even see me at school today, but at least the plants are happy.

I don't have a stellar track record when it comes to volunteering for schools. One year, I received a call from a mom looking for a fellow volunteer. I explain to her that much as I would like to help, I have a full time job and four kids under the age of 5. "Oh my god, that's crazy. I will never call to ask you again!" I suppose word got around. For years, I was not harassed about volunteering. When we moved to California, I had to do it all over again. A mom called once to see if I would traffic control in front of the school. It had been a particularly trying day, and I think I might have become momentarily insane. I remember reciting all the horrible things I had to do at work, and then asking if she still wanted me to traffic control. That year, I didn't get any more requests. Once, at a friend's house, I met fellow parents. One lady exclaimed "Oh, you are the mom that doesn't do anything!" Yup, that's me. I have a friend who has four children and is a workaholic. She was even more blunt. "I have more money than I have time. May I write you a check?" People like she and I are the reason that working moms have a bad reputation amongst other moms. As I chat about this with my kids in the car today, my son says, "But you are not a working mom anymore." And that explains why I am going back on Monday to bake bread in a solar oven with 5th graders. At least this time, I will have maximum visibility and high positive impact on my child.

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