If you aren’t overwhelmed by the month of May, this post is for you. There is a crisis situation, and volunteers are desperately needed. Parents are drowning. April showers now only bring May flowers wilted, and a day late for teacher appreciation week. May is now the month where you run from one school event to the next, end of the season parties and trophy ceremonies while juggling work and home responsibilities. Good luck. You race around with your hair on fire and no matter how hard you try, it still feels like you’re tossing disappointment and failed expectations around like confetti.
If you have more than one kid, too bad. Pick one. Events WILL overlap. In spite of this, employers STILL do not offer paid maternity/paternity leave the last couple of weeks of school and that is madness. I vote for all the jobs to concede that you will only be expected to work part time in May when you have school age children....Until then, I want to introduce everyone who has been confused up until this point to a wonderful volunteer opportunity.
This week, after my first grader’s awards ceremony, I sat at her little desk, looking through her end-of-the-year folder. All the stars aligned, and we were surrounded by our full tribe of grandparents—all who had traveled from out of town to be at school twice that day for both of my kid’s events. Miraculous.
Armed with all that support, I came to awards day prepared to look around, and I didn’t have to look far. I had already talked to my priss about this possibility...and there she was. The little girl who sat silently in front of her folder of school work. Alone.
I quietly slipped over to her desk and asked if she could show me her treasures, tucked inside a purple pouch made from stapled together construction paper—her name colored in a beautiful rainbow pattern on the outside. Her mom was at a job she didn’t have the freedom to slip away from. Unfortunately, this is a common situation, but it left her 7 year old baby’s heart precariously perched on the verge of shattered. Once I sat down, it didn’t take long before her face was lit up, excitedly showing me her school work.
For the kids who sit alone at little school ceremonies, eager hearts broken; for the parents who just couldn’t be there, weary hearts guilt-ridden, what if someone would volunteer to be their village?? What if someone said yes! I can sit with your baby and ooh and aah at their sweet little drawings. Kids don’t need their mom to risk her job to be there, they just want someone to be a volunteer mom for a moment.
You see, earlier this year I saw the quiver of little lips and the tear puddles forming across the room when a parent couldn’t come; as the reality hit that they were the only one alone that day. I saw an opportunity to be a stand-in mom. How easy is that? How fun is that? To encourage a little kid for a few minutes? I bet a lot of y’all would gladly do that if you realized there’s a need for a volunteer village at Christmas and in May.
As tiny humans, those moments take root, and kids start to form identities and self worth. Whether they are accurate or not, fair or not, it’s happening. I bet if we think back, we can all probably remember a moment of early disappointment that crystallized in our childhood memories. What if we helped each other out? Most people just can’t be at every event, every moment. What if they didn’t have to carry the guilt and shame of that because we volunteered more to be each other’s village?
If you have the blessing of flexible time, and know working parents with elementary school kids, ask if you can help during these celebration seasons! Or volunteer at low income schools where we KNOW the need is huge. By showing up for an hour, you could destroy the breeding ground of lies like: nobody cares, I am all alone, school doesn’t matter, I’m not worth it.
Society is different than it has been in previous generations. Built in family units aren’t the norm anymore. We need to change with it. We need to work together to create community and “family” intentionally. It can totally happen and it doesn’t have to be overwhelming if we work together. I’m cheering for you!