Sep 16 2011

Mompetitors

 

Maybe you’ve been in this kind of situation, feeling like a fish out of water, like you don’t belong.  You have two choices, 1) fight for your spot or 2) just swim away.  I chose to fight. 

I felt like this yesterday at my first Parent Teacher Association meeting.  I’m just starring this whole public school thing.  My oldest, Emily, is in Kindergarten.  Since I can’t volunteer during the day, I thought why not join the PTA and help out that way. 

OH MY GOODNESS!  This is competitive.  Enter the “mompetitors”.

I sat at the table, feeling like I was back in high school, sitting at the cheerleader table when I was the one that didn’t make the squad. 

I realized I had two choices, 1) sit there and not say a word or 2) speak up so I spoke up.

I got into the competitive spirit of “who-can-do-more” thing.  Now, I’m afraid I have signed up for too much!  It’s supposed to be all about helping the teachers and administrators right?  Oh I had that wrong. 

I admit to being the tough kid back in school.  My parents had to tell me to back off when I played soccer.  They had to explain to me that to get the ball away from the other kids that I didn’t have to knock them down.  I just don’t like being pushed around.  When I get pushed, I push back.  It’s not pretty. 

I realized several things at that meeting; I have a lot to learn about Elementary School politics and I’m still trying to figure out where I fit, just like high school.

I guess you never really do get out of high school…

 

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Comments (12) -

9/16/2011 8:29:10 AM
KRV United States
KRV
Amanda -
Not EVERY high school cheerleader turns out to be a "mom-petitor" in their school PTA. Some of us really do turn out to be good christian moms who run small businesses & become productive members of society.  Maybe the ones that were "competing" are the ones that need prayers the most??  Maybe they are the ones with self esteem issues and are begging someone to pay attention to them??
9/16/2011 8:57:12 AM
Christy United States
Christy
I can relate to this so much having my oldest just start Kindergarten too.  Around here they call it Parent/Teacher Organization or PTO.  I was shocked at how unfriendly the moms seemed to be at the first PTO meeting.  I signed up to be a Kindergarten Room Parent Coordinator and was asked to come to the meeting early to help set up.  I am shy by nature and stood there for a good 15 minutes before anyone even introduced themselves to me!  There were 6 other moms there who all seemed to know each other just chatting away while I ackwardly stood off to the side.
School politics, especially school mom politics are quite a culture shock to me.  
Of course, I shouldn't be surprised, from the second out babies are born (sometimes even before that) we begin to separate ourselves into cliques/communities.  Natural Birth vs Epidurl vs C-Section; Breastfeeding vs Formula; Co-Sleeping vs Cribs; Those who practice CIO (cry it out) vs those who do not.  On and on it goes.  We compete over who's kid sits up first, who's crawls first, cruises first, walks first.  It can never just be a joyous celebration of the milestones, share that your baby is now walking and there is always that One Upper who will say "well my little junior started walking months earlier than that."  Motherhood is a journey that we should all uplift and support eachother in, no matter how "right" we think our ways are.
9/16/2011 8:57:50 AM
Charla Crawford United States
Charla Crawford
I also want to say that not every PTA is competitive. As a PTA president, it is my goal that it never feels like that. It makes me sad that people just assume that is how it is. My PTA is there to make a better school for the kids and teachers by filling in the money gaps, having family programs, and volunteering our time and sometimes money.  If that is how it feels then pray for the school, the PTA and pray how you can make it different.  That is what 3 of us on the Board at our public school PTA do.  Good luck with this school year.
9/16/2011 9:19:31 AM
DRenee United States
DRenee
A few minutes ago, I was driving home from dropping my daughters off at school when I heard this commentary. OUCH! Usually on kLove, I find grace and encouragement. I'm not feeling so loved and encouraged by this. I see the ending comment from on air about "The head cheerleaders are the ones who become the PTA" isn't included here in writing. At this first meeting of the year last night, did the officers stand up to introduce themselves and say "Hello, I'm Bunny, your PTO President and I was head cheerleader in high school"?

I was unchurched as a child and teen, went to a public High School and ended up being the "Head Cheerleader" for 3 of my 4 years. In the 5 years since my oldest started at school, I have never considered holding a PTO office. I don't even attend the meetings, I am home with my family those nights or driving my girls to dance (that's right, I'm a dance mom too - shriek) or soccer practice. Our PTO members do a great job for the school but I do not fit the mold. If they need extra hands for a book fair or teacher appreciation luncheon, I'm there to help. I do agree, they are typically women of intimidation but I think it's simply a personality type not a stereotype. I even had a discussion once with one of our PTO officers where she ridiculed the once-cheerleader-type moms before I let her know she was talking about me. So I guess there's two sides to that coin. The friends I do have that serve on the PTO's at their children's schools... not a one was ever a cheerleader in high school.  My dear friend and Bible study buddy was an involved cheerleader and dancer in high school but also is not part of our PTO.

I know everyone is entitled to feel how they feel and for whatever motivation but when you are reaching out to millions of people and are touted to be an encouragement, these kinds of blanket and harsh generalizations tear down rather than build up.
9/16/2011 9:39:36 AM
Kim Higgins United States
Kim Higgins
I have been struggling with volunteering with my son's PTO team and this resonated with me.  I'm 41 and most of the mom's are at least 10 years younger than me. They talk about the gym, spinning classes and competitive events that their children are involved with. They do know each other and weren't very friendly to me.   I felt very out of place and uncomfortable.  Any attempt I made at starting or including myself in the conversations was rebuffed.

I'm a recent widow and hearing about their happy 2 parent families makes me miss by husband more.  It's just too soon in my journey to be around them.  Not to mention 1 of the mom's asked me, "So, do you mind telling us exactly how your husband died?"  I felt trapped and every fiber of my being was yelling YES, I DO MIND! But I told them (he died in a car accident and there were other medical issues at play, too).


The school was very kind and considerate when my husband died and many of the teachers came to his Celebration of Life ceremony.  

At this point I made the decision to volunteer elsewhere.  I told the office coordinator what had happened and I volunteer in the library now.  I asked her not to tell the PTO moms about the question I answered but just to explain I'm not far enough out but maybe later in the school year I'll be able to rejoin them.  

My sister called me this morning to tell me about this station and about this subject. I'm glad she did and I'll have this station on when I'm home.  This is exactly what I needed to hear today and I'm thankful.
9/16/2011 11:50:29 AM
Rick Benedict United States
Rick Benedict
Amanda,

I understand completely about wanting to get involved with your childrens lives one way or the other. I'm a single dad and commit to areas in my sons life where and when I can. My goal, to hopefully direct his generation towards God and find that joy, peace and fulfillment only found in Him.

I frequently feel like everyone is against me, that every direction I turn is a challenge. Then God reminds me of His value in these challenges and the heavenly rewards being deposited here on earth when I keep pressing on through my discomfort.

Hang in there, remember what you stand for and don't get discouraged. The Lord is at your side and will give you strength and courage to do what is pleasing to Him when that time comes.

My prayers are with you and your children. God bless you!
9/16/2011 2:13:34 PM
Kim Watkins United States
Kim Watkins
To before about 4:50 I think it was you on the radio reading a powerful scripture.  I missed the address of that scripture and would like to have it. if it was you will you please send it to me.
Thanks
9/16/2011 5:36:07 PM
katie United States
katie
Hi every one I sure do hope you all are havin a blessed day. For those whom got thier feeling hurt, or offended, or upset, or felt tore/tear down , I really don't think it was Ms: Amanda's intention to hurt you all or tear you down she was just speaking and telling of her experince she never say something to hurt anyone on purpose , I don't know Ms: Amanda personally but I know her well enough to know she is not the type to intentionly hurt someone, and I think if she knew she hurted your feelings she apoligise so I'll apoligise for her if it is ok with everyone here and ok with Ms: Amanda herself?? Ms: Amanda is'nt the type to discourage anyone she wants to encourage and build others up, Rmeber every one Ms: Amanda is'nt perfect no one at that station is, no one is perfect really the only perfect one is god but she is a great person, please try not to be hurt, I don't like it when people are hurt and I am sure Ms: Amanda does'nt either . Thank you every one. May god bless every single one of you. p.s I hope this did'nt offfend someone.
9/17/2011 11:49:37 AM
Ann Berg United States
Ann Berg
Amanda...your comments resonated with me so much! I have had children in public school, Christian school and I've homeschooled them as well.  

My experience has been similar to yours...and it's encouraging  to know I'm not the only mom who has sensed the "mompetition" amongst moms. At first...and this was many years ago...I thought I was just insecure and maybe a bit paranoid.  But there is a very real "order" of things established in parental groups...and it's not just with PTA or PTO...many of us moms (and dads) want so desperately to be "good parents" that we look to validation of our "skills" by how involved we are with our children and how successful they become as a reflection of our "parenting finesse."

How wise you are to realize there is so much to learn...and our Lord loves to work with a willing heart!  He will present you with so many opportunities for you to seek His wisdom and value in His eyes that I am looking forward to hearing how God is working in you...and how others have been touched as well!

As I listened to your commentary I heard you share your vulnerability in being the "new mom on the block"...and for you to share your feelings openly to millions of listeners IS encouraging!  Your willingness to share what many, many parents...both moms and dads...experience as they join with other parents in their children's educational journey has surely touched many hearts in a positive way.  

I'm a reader.  When I want to grow in an area I first turn to books...so naturally, I'd like to offer moms and dads a couple secular and Christian titles that (as a mom of 3 girls...ages 19 to 9) have been especially helpful over the years:  The Friendships of Women by Dee Brestin; Mean Girls, Revised by Hayley DiMarco; Mean Girls All Grown Up: Surviving Catty and Conniving Women by Haylie DiMarco; Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and the New Realities of Girl World by Rosalind Wiseman; Mean Girls Grown Up: Adult Women Who Are Still Queen Bees, Middle Bees, and Afraid-to-Bees by Cheryl Dellasega PhD.

Thank you for sharing your heart to so many...willingly...and with authenticity. Press on, my friend!
9/18/2011 8:47:51 AM
Sandra McKay United States
Sandra McKay
Amanda,

A word of encouragement..... I have been a single mom for well all of my childrens lives. I am a christian mom but often pulled in to the secular world. No drugs or alcohol but just trying to survive in a competative world.
anyway my children are now 25, 21, 19, and 14. I am 41. My three oldest are boys and my youngest a girl.  to do but as a single mom its just sometimes impossible. I understand wanting to be there for every step of the way especially in school. However, I have learned (now) that being the mom who wasn't always there but took time off to go to field trips and once in a while a party and just being possitive, interested in thier days and helping provide what I could made more of an impression on all the kids than most of the moms in the PTA.
You need to decide why am I doing this? For my stand in the adult world or to make my childs and other childrens lives better and fun? Education especially now is more about how to be resposible and kind, living for Jesus and being a team player. If you feel like you have to compete then it's just a game and there are better ways to help and be supportive than to compete with other moms. Isn't it about working together?
To those moms who say not all the :"cheerleaders" turn out to be pta moms, well, sometimes the competition for popularity feels like we are back in highschool and being attached and judged and not that the pta is a team to help our kids grow.

Amanda. As a single mom who had a rough time, the best thing to do is pray everyday, be positive even when you are feeling sad, be honest with your kids, make shildhood fun and a grwoing wxperiance for all of you, enjoy the little things and dont sweat the small stuff. God has a plan and only He has control, just go with it and don't take on too much. Spending more time with your kids is much more important than attending the PTA.
PS... my 25 yr old is a Marine married and a proud father of three. He is a strong christian man and a wonderful son. My 21 yr old has fallen off the path with Jesus however I am proud to say he is a good man and has a big heart he has started his own business and doing well, he takes care of his momma when he can. my 19 year old is in his second year at Multnoma Bible University studying Theology, Pastoral studies, and to be a counselor. He is so on fire for the Lord, I think he will be the next Billy Graham, he went through high school carrying his bible, got teased spit on and food thrown at him at lunch time, but he stood strong and many follwed him. He is a true leader. My baby girl is 14 and first year in highschool, she is a beautiful spunky girl on fire for the Lord and a leader as well, she helps other girl make good desisions and brings them to church so they can worship and sing at the top of thier lungs.. Its great! You have much to look forward to.
Like I said, enjoy the little things, don't be so in a hurry to do everything, the babies need you THERE more than anything wlse.
hugs and Love!
Sandi
SO... PTA is what moms are "suppose"
9/19/2011 11:19:26 AM
Linda United States
Linda
..........even if everyone else is acting like they are still in "high school" - be the adult - it won'r be easy 'cuz they will try to suck you in....is there another way to help, besides PTA?  ask the teacher...
9/19/2011 11:20:49 AM
Laura Richards United States
Laura Richards
Amanda, serve if you want to, but do what God is calling you to do. Don't parent (or serve!) out of guilt. As you know...Romans 8:1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. There is FREEDOM in not parenting out of guilt, but through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. From the heavenly Father we learn to be great mothers. Blessings to you today!
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