The Real Reason I'm Wary of the PTA

When my daughter started kindergarten last year, I couldn't have been more excited, both for her and for myself. She got to attend a fantastic school with a dedicated and loving teacher and a classroom full of adorable friends, both old and new. I got seven guilt-free hours a day with one less child. What could go wrong with this scenario? Well, one little thing, and it's called the PTA (or at our school, the PTO).

Listen, I am extremely grateful for the intense amount of hard work all the women who run our school's parent-teacher organization put in. They are like little ninjas, fundraising, soliciting donations from local businesses, making sure our children all have the most enriched, positive education experiences possible and that we parents are always informed on the goings on of our school community. It's a big job, and they do it well.

I have yet to meet one woman in our school's PTO program that's anything less than lovely and gracious. There's not a Bad Moms clone in the bunch. They didn't volunteer for power or prestige, but instead to truly better the school and, subsequently, all of our children's lives. Noble, right? The only problem: they are always on the lookout for recruits and they've set their sights on me.

The only problem: they are always on the lookout for recruits and they've set their sights on me.

See, the thing about the women who are super involved with PTO is that they know it's a lot of work and they are constantly sniffing out innocent mothers who might have a little time on their hands and a desire to, you know, be a good mom. They might hear that you only work part time (even better if, like me, it's from home) or maybe not at all, and they figure you surely want to fill your hours by calling local businesses to ask for free $10 gift cards for raffle baskets and/or by organizing the school-wide ice cream social. It's for the kids, after all.

And at first, you'll think, well, yeah, I probably do have a few extra hours in my week and it might be kind of fun to pass out Dilly bars to my kids' classmates or help make the booze-filled, parents-only Spring fundraiser a great party. And so you, you naive woman, you say "yes" when they ask you to add your name to that SignUp Genius page. And then they've got you.

You've branded yourself a PTO mom, and once you're in, they expect you to go all the way in. Soon, you'll be asked to join every committee with a vacant seat, to recruit other mom friends who aren't doing their part, and to chair a fundraiser or two. You'll realize that you're in too deep with no way out, and while a little PTA is a good thing, a lot of it might make you go a little crazy.

It's a situation I've heard from so many friends, and one I'm looking to avoid. I always have my excuses for not volunteering for the big stuff at the ready (my toddler, my job, and my desire to do more "in-classroom" work are my go-tos). I have learned to fight against my tendency to say "yes" to everything, that "no" is just as acceptable an answer, and the only one I should give when asked to do something I truly don't want to or don't have the time to do. I respect the moms who dedicate so much of their time to the PTA; I just don't have the energy to be one of them.