What is it about “PTA moms” that makes us put them on the ultimate mom pedestal? Sure, they’re helping their kids’ school, and that helps their kids. But why is a commitment to the PTA more worthy of praise and admiration than a mom who goes to work full time, or a mom who spends extra time helping her kids in a different way? Parents who do everything they can to help their individual child should be praised, not just the ones who volunteer for the PTA.
Why I’m Not a PTA Mom
Yeah, I get it. Our schools need the PTA. They need volunteers raising money to strengthen crumbling education budgets. Don’t get me wrong, the PTA is a worthy cause, and I have nothing against PTA moms.
But, not all of us can offer time in this way, and it doesn’t make us any lesser of a mom. I am a great example. I do work, mostly from home, but it isn’t work that keeps me from volunteering with the PTA. You see, moms like me, moms of kids with special needs, already spend an enormous amount of extra time trying to help our kids succeed in school and get an education.
Enormous. Enormous. Time.
While a PTA mom might be at the school setting up for a bake sale, I’m at home micromanaging my child’s homework, and wrestling his resulting mood. I’m emailing multiple teachers for clarification on assignments or missing work. While a PTA mom might be hosting a teacher appreciation lunch, I’m down the hall in a 2-hour IEP meeting fighting for educators to understand my son’s learning challenges and support them. While a PTA mom might be running the school carnival, I’m at home trying to help my son reconcile the fact that he wants to go to the carnival but knows the noise and crowd will upset him. I’m at home trying to boost his spirits the rest of the day.
While our kids’ success is a priority for all moms, we work at it in different ways, and all caring, compassionate, committed moms should be celebrated, not just those with “PTA” in their title.
Why I’m Not Ashamed
We all have our struggles. Very few of the people around us know our personal story — know the time, emotion, fortitude, and resilience that are required by our special brand of parenthood. I know that my priorities — tending to the needs of my special needs child — are exactly where they are supposed to be. I know, without a doubt, that I’m doing everything I can for my son (and then some). Volunteering with the PTA is rarely part of that equation for families of kids with special needs. (We know all too well that most PTA’s aren’t raising money for special education departments and students, because they are the minority.)
While our culture tells moms we should be ashamed if we don’t volunteer for the PTA, I’m happy to say, I’m not that volunteer — I’ve never been to one PTA meeting, and I’m not ashamed. I’d be happy to explain where my time goes to anyone who judges me because they’ve never seen me at a PTA function. I’m advocating for a child who needs more from his Momma, and that’s exactly where I should be.
Author: Penny Williams
Penny Williams guides and mentors parents raising kids with ADHD and/or autism. She’s the parent of a son with ADHD and autism, and the author of three award-winning books on parenting kids with ADHD: Boy Without Instructions, What to Expect When Parenting Children with ADHD, and The Insider’s Guide to ADHD Penny is the current editor of ParentingADHDandAutism.com, Founder and Instructor for The Parenting ADHD & Autism Academy, and a frequent contributor on parenting and children with ADHD for ADDitude Magazine and other parenting and special needs publications.