Your Stories - Readers pull back the curtain on the chaos that bedevils all moms

What’s the Big Deal?

I am trying to survive the end of school. Nowadays moms have to attend countless “moving up” ceremonies and provide “voluntary” handmade teacher’s gifts. As a busy working mom with four kids, I want to know when all these new ceremonies and rules started cropping up? For me it was high school graduation and done. Now my kids have ceremonies for completing preschool, kindergarten, elementary school, middle school, and high school.

And teacher’s gifts—the PTA police are on the rise? I want to give a gift—nothing extravagant, but I’d like to give my kid’s teacher a gift certificate. It is cheaper in terms of time and money as I have neither the supplies nor the ability to make a worthwhile gift from scratch. But the school has rules against asking for donations to buy a class’s teacher a gift or buying one of my own! What is going on? Why can’t we give the teacher a gift? The teacher is often more patient with my child than I am and I appreciate it enormously.

I say as part of the Mom’s Code—we should be allowed to prepare a teacher’s gift on behalf of the class as long as every child’s name is on the card regardless of contribution. And the moms actually securing the gift must contain themselves and not brag to the teacher or other moms about their amazing contribution. If the class as a whole is not doing something and I feel like giving a $15 Jamba Juice gift card, I don’t see why anyone would object? I get it there are some people who go overboard, but the majority of us can’t afford to …

Schools absolutely need active parental involvement and rely on volunteers for many things. But keep in mind, if you start producing binders or documents with guidelines and rules, you have become something parents dread. Policymakers who aren’t paid are bureaucrats looking for an outlet. If you are writing out teacher appreciation week guidelines you have officially become a bureaucrat! We are too tired to fight you about all the guidelines and reminders, but we secretly talk about you.

This year’s (very cute) trend is children bringing Sharpies to school so everyone can sign their shirts. Sometimes the head, arms, etc., get signed as well. It’s like yearbook signing at an elementary school level. Well, some parent think there should be a guideline sheet for acceptable and unacceptable shirt signing practices! Really, what is the big deal? Let’s sit on the sidelines and smile at pop culture. Just send them to school in a shirt you don’t care about.

I’m an “everything in moderation” kind of person. I work out but it’s not like I’m running marathons. I an always on a diet but never starve myself (I love to eat) and never seem to shed those last few pounds. I try to keep my kids eating healthy but allow Kraft mac and cheese and sauce from a jar. I pay attention to what is going on at school but occasionally forget to go to a parent conference.

I’m pretty much your everyday working mom trying to balance it out day by day. We have daily small tragedies and the occasional victory too. So let me go to Jamba Juice or Starbucks or Apple and buy a gift card. Let our children enjoy their last day of school getting signed like human yearbooks. And please don’t make me feel like I have to throw a party, buy flowers, and get a gift for my eighth-grader.

Because now I have all the summer well-child visits and the requisite forms for summer camp and the next school year. With four kids, there are always flags for eye exams, bone density, height, weight, etc. But this summer, I am determined to put “Operation Fun” into effect—all I know is it will include ice cream, downtime, and a body of water. Well, and I’ll need a plan for my kids too, I guess!