I am a PTO mom.
Is this something I ever thought possible? Never.
I am at school all of the time.
Did I plan for this? Absolutely not.
Is it one of the best things that has ever happened in my life? 100% yes.
In years past, I have been as involved with my kids’ school as I possibly could. I always volunteered for my kids’ class parties and donated items throughout the school year, but I had never been to a PTO meeting, or, to be honest, really had any desire to go.
With my youngest starting school this year, combined with the fact that I work from home, I figured that I should try to get a little more involved. Step out of my comfort zone and volunteer at the school.
Maybe even join the dreaded PTO.
I’m going to be honest. My perspective of what being a PTO mom entailed was a wee bit skewed, I feel, due to my upper-middle-class suburban upbringing.
I envisioned the most wealthy moms meeting for brunch at the country club to discuss party details and silent auction baskets. Drinking mimosas and maniacally laughing.
I know. My brain is weird.
I am not one of those moms.
PTO at our elementary school in my little rural town is definitely NOT like this.
Not only were my perceptions of what a PTO mom should be completely off base, but I honestly figured moms like myself need not apply.
I am far from perfect.
I do not bathe for days at a time.
Sometimes I scream at my kids.
My hair is in a bun 99.9% of the time.
I have two real mommy friends in my town.
I was a wild child through my adolescent years, and was considered a “bad apple” by many of my friends’ parents growing up.
I am absolutely not the poster mom for your elementary school PTO.
After much consideration and the help of one of my two mommy friends who swore she would take this dive with me, I swallowed my fears and joined the PTO.
Here are three lessons I learned from my rookie year.
- They are 100% inclusive. Even though everything in my being was telling me this would be an exclusive club of inner circle parents who would immediately be judging me, I was so wrong. My PTO is a smorgasbord of parents who are all in different phases and stages of parenting. Some stay home, some work, some donate time, and still others donate resources. I was shocked by the lack of parental involvement in our school. If a parent really wants to be involved, they most definitely can be.
- The benefits of being integrated into your child’s school are amazing. The relationships I have formed this year have been incredible. I know each and every single person at the school, and that is absolutely how I want and need it to be. I made such amazing friendships with the teachers, secretaries, and other parents this year. Considering so many of them friends makes handing over my “heart” (aka my children) for eight hours a day so much easier. I know them, and I wholeheartedly trust them.
- The kids make my heart happy. The kids at school are so precious and many in our district come from very low-income families. The stories I’ve heard are heartbreaking and honestly, for me, mind-boggling. We have many kids being raised by someone other than their biological parents, and who have already seen more terrible things in their brief little lives than I have in my 37 years. I have loved getting to know these kids, and I love spending time at the school with them. Every child is unique, and they have really opened my eyes to more diverse upbringings. Now when one of my kids mentions another kid from school, I know exactly who they are referring to.
When we learn to shed our anxieties and step out of our comfort zones, it truly can open a whole new world for ourselves. We have to learn to challenge the preconceived notions our own minds conjure up. I never in a million years would have thought that I would be a party planning, decorating, billboard creating, covering recess duty (pro tip: NEVER WILLINGLY DO THIS), grabbing Sonic drinks and donated foods kind of mom, but I SO AM.
Are you in PTO?
What benefits/drawbacks have you discovered?