Volunteering is Eating My Soul

So why didn’t anyone with school age children warn me that the one thing you must never ever do if you want to retain your sanity is chair a committee at an upstart elementary school? Here I’ve had this blog since Elby was a few months old and I’ve been given The problem is, “helping” brings out some of my worst qualities. When I feel overwhelmed (or sometimes just in general) I can tend towards being controlling, bossy and a know-it-all, pretty charming character traits am I right? I bet I’m a joy to work with.

I wish I could keep my mouth shut when I disagree, you know pick your battles and all that stuff. I wish I could at the very least, state my opinion in a softer, reasonable, accepting of the fact that other people have different and equally legitimate opinions way. But oftentimes it comes out as My Way Is The Correct Way And You Are A Dumbass For Thinking It Should Be Your Way. I swear I am working on this little defect of character but I can’t change overnight! And also, I can’t help it that people are annoying! Maybe the world should think about adjusting itself to me for once. Can the world at least meet me halfway?

So volunteering. Here’s the thing, people expect you to stay interested in the project 24/7 day after day all the way up through the actual event. Whose got that kind of attention span? The other night, I couldn’t even get through an entire episode of Teen Mom that Jon and I downloaded from On Demand before I lost interest and went to bed. “Is this the episode where Amber is going to whack the crap out of Gary and call him a fat shit?” I asked, half way to my bedroom, “because right now I’m only hearing a bunch of bitching and I’m tired.”

“I have no idea. I’ve never seen this show either. I only know she hits him from my gossip sites and US Weekly.”

Do you find it suspect that my husband pores over gossip sites and reads US Weekly religiously? Me too but that’s why I married him. Well that and he has a good eye for when I’ve left a light on or a faucet dripping a teeny tiny drop an hour. And he’s super foxy.

“Well, Amber needs to get to the slapping already because I’ve been up since six.” And by the way, is she really in any position to be picking on her husband’s weight? She looks like she might be eating a few feelings herself. I’m on team Gary.”

I never did find out if it was the right episode because I’d had such a long day volunteering. Fifty emails a day sounds reasonable for a committee that part of a bigger event right? No? Good because I’ve been complaining about it non-stop to whomever will listen. Why do people get so crazed? Don’t they have lives? Are they being paid for this and I am the dumb one who’s volunteering? Are other schools like this? Why did I sign up? Starting before six am and ending around 11 at night I get emails asking if certain things have been done, are going to get done, why haven’t they been done and could I please give more more more time?

The reason I did sign up is I wanted to be involved and also, we have to volunteer fifty hours a year at our school. Luckily, this should do it. I’m done for the year after Saturday. End of rant.

Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on October 26, 2010 8:47 pmUncategorized13 comments  


  1. rebecca said,

    We are not required to do anything at my daughters school, but she is in public so that may be the reason. I volunteered to organize the Fall Party and so far it all went well and I was able to get all but 2 parents involved! Out of 17 kids I think that’s a major win!

    My son goes to preschool through the school district and we are required to volunteer 3 times per semester (bring snack) or pay $8 per semester. I’ve already volunteered 5 times this semester. Yes, I’m bragging. I signed up to organize his Christmas and Valentine’s party. I’m so excited!

    I also volunteered for the Book Fair. I worked every single day!! I loved working in the book fair because I got to talk to real adults and have real adult conversations. It was surreal.
    rebecca´s last blog post ..Antibiotic Allergy

    | October 26, 2010 @ 9:50 pm

  2. mommy on the spot said,

    Yikes! Sounds intense.
    I’d say that volunteering brings out some of my “assertive” qualities as well.

    I think the Mouthy housewives once posted about a militant group called the PTA. Note to self: stayfar, far away.

    | October 26, 2010 @ 11:02 pm

  3. m said,

    HILARIOUS. love it. i can particularly relate with regard to complaining to everyone in earshot who will listen.

    | October 27, 2010 @ 12:03 am

  4. Heidi said,

    Ha! I just bake something to sell at the fall festival each year. Oh, and I show up for all the boring concerts and plays.

    | October 27, 2010 @ 1:35 am

  5. Mavis Hayes said,

    Oh oh! I suddenly remembered the time when I volunteered for my son’s Christmas party. It was fun. Plus the fact that you are giving that chance to share opinions with other committee members, you are able to give a significant contribution in the way a special celebration must be celebrated 🙂 I like your thoughts. Looking forward to reading more of your blogs.

    | October 27, 2010 @ 5:38 am

  6. Lulu said,

    My children have different last names than me since I kept mine when I got married. I’m hoping when they start school nobody will make the connection I am actually their mother. That should keep my obligations on committees and such to a minimum.

    Kidding! I will sign up for a bunch of random crap and then bitch that everyone else is a moron. Which they are. Except us of course. (I was recently at a local coffee shop and overheard a meeting of moms from the school my children will attend and I’m ALREADY annoyed. And they don’t start kindergarten until 2013.)
    Lulu´s last blog post ..Snippets

    | October 27, 2010 @ 3:23 pm

    • Maggie said,

      But Lulu that’s brilliant! I too have a different last name, and mine will be starting school next year. Should take a little while at least before they really target me, right??

      | October 27, 2010 @ 5:36 pm

  7. seekingclarav said,

    That sounds straight up crazy. And No Thanks.

    Last fall I was suckered into being the kids outing coordinator for the mom’s group I am in (it had nothing to do with the fact that I was replying to emails under the influence of a bottle of pinot, I swear)and I “resigned” after 2 months. The first party I had to organize consumed my entire life for a month straight.

    Hopefully my daughter’s future school will have a “pay more to opt out of volunteering” option. I don’t play well with others.
    seekingclarav´s last blog post ..officially out of material

    | October 27, 2010 @ 10:18 pm

  8. Bridgette said,

    Maybe there should be a no emailing rule for volunteering in a child’s classroom. I have heard people are bad at the email piece and over-communicate. Maybe a good old fashioned sign up sheet in the classroom and then a phone number attached to it will shut those a$$holes up.

    People that like to do things like volunteer to build their “I’m a good parent”resume also seem to like to talk about volunteering a lot.
    Suddenly, you are stuck in a “I-volunteer-therefore-I-am-an-active-and-involved-Mom” conversation.

    Also, the overcommunication can account for their own need to overcompensate because they are pissed they did not head up the event.

    Or at least that’s how Moms roll around here:)

    | October 28, 2010 @ 12:55 am

  9. Lynde said,

    What does this sentence mean?:

    Here I’ve had this blog since Elby was a few months old and I’ve been given The problem is, “helping” brings out some of my worst qualities.


    | October 28, 2010 @ 4:02 am

  10. Kelly said,

    I quit volunteering at the school when my oldest was in first grade. Reason? I volunteered to go on a school field trip as a chaperone, the teacher assigned me, my daughter, one of her friends, and all of the boys that had behavior problems. Six of them. I had more kids then anyone else. They were all bad, and kept running away, with the exception of my daughter and her friend. I vowed that was enough of this Mommy volunteering, for my child’s entire school career.

    | October 28, 2010 @ 8:14 pm

  11. Jae said,

    You HAVE to volunteer 50 hours?! Sheeeet! No wondering volunteering if eating your soul – volunteering means you “volunteer” to do it, not that you are required to do it! 😉 Good luck girl!
    Jae´s last blog post ..A Tribe Apart

    | October 29, 2010 @ 12:57 pm

  12. Lisa H. said,

    Oh my god. I’m so grateful for this post. To know I’m not the only one hatin’ on volunteering for the school is like when I found out I wasn’t the only alcoholic in the country. To be fair, I do quite a bit of service work, but there are no children involved and the folks I do the service work around have all surrendered control to their Higher Power, so I can do the service work the way I want to and they just kick back and watch me do my thing.

    To be fair, we’re only required to do 4 hours of volunteer service and I made my husband go with me to orientaion so he could sign up for 2 hours and I could do the other 2. Equality, right?

    | November 2, 2010 @ 1:00 am

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