It’s the first week of school, you guys. Already.
When did the first day become such a big deal? Has it always been a big deal? My mom usually took photos of us on our first days, especially on big milestone grades, but now we’re getting a little cuckoo bananas with the Pinterest-inspired first day photos. I can’t lie: I do it too. And I really kind of like it, as silly as it may be.
For me, the beginning of a new school year is still very much like the beginning of a new calendar year. Every year I resolve to be more involved, to sign the friggin’ agendas, to volunteer in classrooms more, to have lunch with one of the children once a week, to do my best not to lose my marbles when my sixth grader brings home more advanced math homework than I was doing in college.
I want to be the mom who spends free time helping the teacher, baking cookies for parties, chaperoning field trips, tutoring my children, reading to/with them before bed, checking homework, reading and signing every slip of paper (times three!) from the school, supporting all of the fundraising efforts, not complaining when I’m being nickle-and-dimed within an inch of my life. But I’m not that mom.
Really, as a single mom, if I can get dinner on the table, homework checked for completion and the kids in bed at a reasonable time, I’m doing well. Let’s all laugh at my low expectations, but they’re low for a reason: mommying is tough, stressful, I-want-to-run-away work.
There’s not enough of me to go around. I can chaperone field trips, I can remember to check folders about once a week (okay, once a month), I can throw a few quarters the school’s way from time to time, but it’s insanely difficult to be the only one in charge of this many other people. There’s no surprise there’s a correlation between single parenthood and low test scores/college attendance.
I sometimes feel like a failure as a parent because I forget to sign folders and agendas every day. (I see things, I just don’t always sign.) I can’t keep up with what’s on the lunch menu or even who’s where at what times. I feel like a failure as a mom a lot. I’m giving as much as I can, maybe even more than I thought I could give when I’m flying solo, and it’s just not enough.
This year, I resolve to do what I can, because I know that doing it all just isn’t going to happen. I don’t mean that I’m going to be satisfied with doing the minimum, because I know that parent involvement is key to a child’s academic success and I’m also not a minimum-only person (except for paying those pesky student loans), but I’m going to be satisfied with doing what I can. Or not. I’m just going to have to get over myself, I think.
I wrote most of this Monday and I’m now reading it again Tuesday, thinking about the child who waved to me at city hall yesterday and asked me to tell one of my children hello for him. I’m also thinking about all of the students I’ve hugged at lunch times and visits over the years, students who know me because I AM in the school frequently, more than their parents. Maybe I’m being too hard on myself?
Whether I am or not, I still need to do better, to do more, to be more.
What are your faults when it comes to being involved with your child’s school? Are you the PTO president? Or are you the mom who didn’t even realize teachers are sending folders home?