Saturday, May 16, 2009

I'm Learning

Last year at this time, the former PTO president at the wee ones' preschool was calling me again, begging me to be president this year. The rest of the board and committees had been set up, but the president was missing, and you can't have the PTO without a president. It would dissolve, and the special needs preschool the wee ones attend needs the support of the PTO more than most schools.

I pointed out that I work. I pointed out that I had two small children. I pointed out that there had to be other people. She pointed back to me, with it being me or no one.

I gave in, and this year I was the PTO president. I made it work, and it wasn't too bad. Had I more time, there are certainly things I would have done differently or worked harder on, but everyone seems satisfied. In fact, I'm up for another term next year (unless one of you wants to take the reins? No? No one?).

This coming school year, Mister Man also moves to kindergarten at our elementary school. Since all the PTO presidents in the district gather on a bi-weekly basis, the co-presidents at the elementary school have been salivating at the knowledge that I had a child at that school starting next year.

While having a picnic in our front yard on spring break, a woman stopped by my house to introduce herself. She was on the nominating committee at the elementary school (oh, to have enough PTO members to have or need a nominating committee!). She'd heard that I was coming to the elementary school next year and wanted to pitch a few ideas to me.

Her first idea was to be the webmaster. After regaining control of myself after my hysterics, I explained that probably wasn't the job for me. She then suggested the art chair. As I learned more about it, I realized that it was mainly focused on work done in April and May. With our major fundraising event occurring on Cinco de Mayo, I knew there would be a conflict.

So I declined to do the art chair. Check it out! I said no!

She countered a few days later -- via phone this time -- with the idea of running the holiday shop. Apparently this is actually not a fundraiser but just a fun shop for kids to come pick out items for family members at reasonable costs and do fun little activities. And I would have volunteers to help run it.

I do want to be somewhat involved in the elementary PTO (assuming we go to that school, but that's another post altogether), and the preschool has nothing major going on in December, so I said I'd work on that with another mom to help.

Then comes this week. Ms. Nominating Committee stopped by my house again. I've noticed that phone calls are for easier things with her and in-person visits are the ones that are the harder sells.

Apparently next year there will be no gala, so that leaves somewhat of a hole in their budget. Instead of doing a major fundraiser, they had the idea of doing smaller fundraiser throughout the year. And it's more important to get the person to chair the "ad hoc fundraisers" than the holiday shop. So would I pretty please consider doing the ad hoc fundraisers?

I took a deep breath. I thought about it for a moment. And then I told her no. I explained that I worked three days a week or more and that I was still the PTO president at the preschool. To take on something of that magnitude that required work throughout the year rather than in one finite period was too much for me.

She pushed, telling me that it wouldn't be so bad that I could have other moms help me. And I stood firm. I'm already burned out with everything, and that's just not something I should add to my plate.

I'm finally learning to say no. And I have to say that it felt pretty good. It's not my responsibility to ensure that every position on their slate is filled, and I can only sign up for what I have capacity to do.

Then again, we had the kindergarten orientation on Thursday, and the VP of fundraising was there and thanked me for agreeing to work on the ad hoc fundraisers. I think I set her straight. I hope. If not, does anyone have any good, easy fundriasering ideas?


Mary~Momathon May 16, 2009 at 8:40 PM  

oh, gosh, I got sucked down that dark pit of responsibility too! I finally emerged, battered, torn, exhausted... now I say no. Actually, I hide, same thing.

WeaselMomma May 17, 2009 at 7:48 AM  

Sounds like this woman is part of the parent stalker committee. Tell her she have time to chair the ad hoc fundraisers is she gave up the stalking.

septembermom May 17, 2009 at 11:25 AM  

Wow that lady is so persistent. Good for you for saying no. You do so much all the time :) I'm running the publishing center for my son's school this year. It's me and 8 typist volunteers. Sometimes I'm on my own. The PTA president has already "assumed" that I'm doing it next year. I enjoy it but it's a lot of work.

t.t. millers May 17, 2009 at 6:25 PM  

It's nice to volunteer, but once you do it is as if you are on a list that you cannot escape from!

Ryan Ashley Scott May 17, 2009 at 7:16 PM  

Good for you! You have to think of yourself, or else you will go crazy and what good will that do your kids? NO is a hard word to learn, isn't it?

Melisa with one S May 18, 2009 at 5:58 AM  

Good for you! You're learning to say no several years before I did. Stand strong!!!

Karen May 18, 2009 at 8:02 AM  

Saying NO is a good thing. Trust me.

Angela May 18, 2009 at 9:15 AM  

Good for you Michelle! You definitely have to remember that saying no can be healthy. I have had to learn that art too and it's something I think we acquire as we go along :-) Kudos for knowing - and respecting - your own boundaries for time!

wenderful May 18, 2009 at 1:32 PM  

I've learned to say no and it's a great feeling! Congrats to you.

Cookie May 18, 2009 at 3:07 PM  

I'm not a big PTA or fund raising fan, but I too get sucked in... Although never had to be president!

Megryansmom May 18, 2009 at 4:15 PM  

I feel your pain, I was PTO tresurer for 4 years and sort of a co-president as one of the co was practically non existant. Good for you for learning to say no.

Michelle May 18, 2009 at 9:06 PM  

Mary - I'm not quite to hiding, but ... I need to make sure I don't completely overload myself.

Weaselmomma - Oooo, I like the way you think. I can tell you've been through this school thing before ;)

septembermom - Gotta love those assumptions. I only have one returning person next year, and I made VERY sure I didn't assume anything. Oh, and she's the only one just because everyone else is moving to kindergarten. Preschool is short!

tt millers - That's the one problem. There's no midway point. I am starting to see why so many of my SAHM neighbors aren't involved in the schools at all....

RAS - It is. It is also the phrase I gave my first friend when she had a baby "No isn't a four letter word." I think I need to remember it for myself more!

Melisa - I'm working on it. I also know that we may well not be at that school next year, which helps!

Karen - Ohhh but I do :)

Angela - Ummm I'm still overcommitted. Just slightly less so than I could have been!

wenderful - Thanks. I definitely feel better knowing I'm saying no for the right reasons. But it's still not easy.

Cookie - Oh just give it time. Your children are young :)

Megryansmom - I have a feeling I'll be roped into being a treasurer at some point, too. It's that whole having a mind for numbers thing. Too many other moms run in fear.

H F W May 19, 2009 at 5:03 PM  

Good for you! Saying no is so terribly hard. I feel the same way you do, and it's always a chore to actually say no. But you can only do what you can do. Stretching yourself too much isn't good for you or anyone.

Michelle May 20, 2009 at 10:00 AM  

Hyacynth - Ohhhh and you're just starting down the path of being asked to do things! Here's hoping you learn better than I do!

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