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The Wilder Life: October 2015

10/06/2015 09:17AM ● Published by Aimee Cormier

The Unvetted Room Mom

By Amanda Harris 


I think there’s been a mistake. A big mistake. In my son’s class, I have somehow become the room mom. (Technically I volunteered for it, but they didn’t vet me. At all.)


Call the PTO.

There’s an intruder. 

I am not room-mom material. 

Room moms are women who make juice box covers. You know, to match the holiday theme of the party. Room moms make praline-crusted cheesecakes with a pumpkin swirl and ombre, chevron birthday decorations. They don’t ever lose the important form thing you need to sign. They look for school uniforms in May. May! School starts in August. Late August. (People do that. I heard them say so at orientation like it was totally normal.)


I am not room-mom material. 

My Pinterest boards are not properly organized. Some haven’t been added to in years. My Christmas board has three pins. Three! See? I wasn’t vetted.

I am not room-mom material. 


I had to pay for the rush shipping on Wilder’s Pottery Barn backpack to get it here in time for school. Need more? For the first Valentine’s Day at Mother’s Day Out circa 2012, I brought some signed Valentine’s from a box. And that was it. Nothing crafted, no glue guns used, no ribbons tied on fruit pouches with clever quotes. In my defense, Wilder was four months old. Four months, as in he had been alive for about 120 days. And on that day I picked him up to find a goody bag of all manner of really cute stuff from the other moms in his diaper bag. Stuff that someone probably had an entire Pinterest board dedicated to. 

Room-mom material moms. 


I always felt like I might be my mother’s daughter. For the big things, she’s not kidding around. No one at a baby shower will arrive to find a bag of chips sitting on the table. (You put them in a cute bowl next to the pretty glass punch bowl and the three-tiered cake. Of course.) But for the everyday bits of life, she wasn’t room-mom material either.

She worked full time and she cooked every night and she did all manner of motherly thing. But, if my childhood were a sitcom I imagine myself and two younger sisters in the teal Astrovan spraying our hair while my mom applies her lipstick pulling into the parking lot of church on two wheels, sliding door opens and out we fall still tying sashes followed by a cloud of Debbie Gibson perfume and LA. Looks hair spritzer as we rush breathless to Bible Study. And she’s singing Sandi Patty and none of our permission slips are signed. 

When Pinterest first came about it felt like the Martha Stewart army of creative mommas were bullying the rest of us. What was once on the fringes of motherhood suddenly felt like the norm.  Moms like me were pinning “how to turn a crib into an eco-friendly rocket ship” and “10 Ways to Make Your Floors Looks Brand New.” Like we were going to do any of them. We are liars or optimists. Maybe both.

After the flood of Pinterest finally came the backlash. The Pinterest fail websites and the moms like me who said all of these things are not what matters. What matters are that our children feel loved. Not that they have organic free-range goat milk cupcakes with handmade raffia liners to give their classmates. What matters is that we spend time with these little people. Not that we spend time crafting. 

I have realized in the last few years that maybe these lovingly crafted things do matter. Just the way it mattered that my Grandma Wanda always baked my favorite dessert (buttermilk cake) or how my mom always had orange Kool-Aid and sweet tea in the fridge. 

It’s not how we show the people we love that matters. It’s that you show them at all. My Aunt Janice was a Pinterest mom long before anyone had an email address or even a cell phone. It’s simply who she was. (Or is, rather. She’s the maker of cheesecakes of the pumpkin swirl variety.)

There are so many things in this world that matter. A lot. And it is on these we must focus. Showing love in the way that feeds the souls of our children. Creating and relaxing in the way that feeds our souls as mothers. Some people find that in the pages of a book, some behind the peddle of a sewing machine and others training for that triathlon. We are not all that different. Except for the triathlon mom. Seriously? I am really not triathlon-mom material. They would vet me and I’d be out faster than you can say “Fitbit.” 

I may not feel like room-mom material, but I’m pretty excited. I want to be the one that comes to the school party and has lunch on a random Tuesday with Wilder. These are things my mom never was able to do because of her work schedule and that blasted commute. 

She never could be the room mom. But, I have this writing gig with some flexibility and no commute. I have the opportunity to be there in person at times not every mom can because of their schedules. I may never be room-mom material in the traditional sense, but I’m going to show up. Even if it’s on two wheels applying mascara in the parking lot. And I promise to bring the good juice boxes, even if they have no cute covers on them. 


Perhaps I’ll usher in a new era of the room mom. 

Or destroy the system entirely and be shunned. 

Who’s taking bets they vet better next year?


Life+Leisure, Today The Unvetted Room Mom The Wilder Life: October 2015

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