The Moment I Knew I Was A PTA Mom

There are a few defining moments in motherhood: your baby's first steps, your baby's first words, your baby's first day of school.

Oh yes, it's that time of year where millions of moms are sending their babies to school for the very first time and the rest of us are relishing in having time to take a long, hot bath in the middle of the day. Not that I do that. Much.

For me, another defining moment was the day I dropped my baby off for preschool.

I mean, sure, I felt teary-eyed that he was going off for THE LONGEST TWO HOURS OF MY LIFE without me there to guide him but the defining moment came in the afternoon. In the carpool line.

It hit me.

"I'm in the carpool line. This is a carpool. This is something that moms do and I'M DOING IT."

I felt like I suddenly had this external validation that I was really a mom and that I must be doing something right if I had made it this far.


I soared through that year of preschool and felt like a school-mom pro. Kindergarten was going to be a breeze. You know, after we moved to another state and figured out what school we were going to be in.

Starting public school is a different ballgame altogether. It feels an awful lot like one of my favorite scenes from the 1987 classic Raising Arizona (seriously, you need to see this Coen Brothers movie).

H.I. (Nicholas Cage) and Ed (Holly Hunter) have stolen a baby and are showing him off to H.I.'s friend's wife, Dot (Frances McDormand). Dot decides to impart her medical wisdom on the new parents.

Dot: There's diphtheria-tetanus, what they call dip-tet. They need dip-tet boosters yearly, or they develop lockjaw and night vision.

Then there's the smallpox vaccine, chicken pox and measles. lf your kid's like ours, you'll have to get all those shots before he'll take 'em.

Who's your pediatrician?

Ed: We ain't exactly fixed on one yet, have we?

H.I.: No, l guess we don't have one yet.

Dot: Jesus! Well, you gotta have one this instant!

What if the baby gets sick, honey?

Even if he don't, he's gotta have his dip-tet. He's gotta have his dip-tet, honey.

After one trip to the school administrator's office, I went home to my husband screaming, "HE'S GOTTA HAVE HIS DIP-TET, HONEY!"

I felt so unprepared. Vaccination records, dental exams, school supplies, and, of course, the carpool procedures. But it was all going to be okay because there was a Back to School Night that would explain everything.

And on that fateful night, I joined the PTA. I wrote my check for $8.00 and had another defining moment. I JUST JOINED THE PTA.

Echoing through my ears were strains of the twangy song from 1968 and the cheesy Barbara Eden movie of the same name, Harper Valley PTA.

What was next? Was I going to become a Stepford Wife and bake cookies?

Not quite. What happened next was a slow indoctrination. I learned that schools aren't the same as when I was growing up. And I learned that volunteers are hard to come by.

I'm a champion circle cutter outer.

So I stepped up and offered my technology services to put together the PTA's Student Directory.

And then I volunteered to help out at game club, mainly to make my son feel more at ease. 

Soon, I was on "the list."

When the PTA needed someone to step in and do something, they went to "the list." So I sold snacks at the Science Fair. And applied sports tattoos on Play Day. And yes, I agreed to help with this year's membership drive.

But that's where I drew the line. A few volunteering commitments and that was it. Until this year's back to school night. As I watched the new PTA President deliver his PowerPoint and encourage parents to get involved, I thought to myself, "I could do that."

And that's the moment I knew the PTA had sucked me in and I was officially a PTA mom.

Today, the PTA. Tomorrow, the world!

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