Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Art of Not Volunteering

I saw her standing there…a smile plastered on her face, her lips barely opening to contain her seething rage—she was trying to communicate to a volunteer mom who does not work outside the home. “Just an e-mail message sent to ALL the parents would be huge help especially to us with very tight schedules.” she was kindly trying explain to the woman, but only getting a blank stare in return.

I was that woman last year. But this year—it was Ms. Churchlady, my favorite Super Mom. History repeating itself.

I still find it hard to stop myself. I see waste, the lack of organization, the petty squabbling and my desire to step in with an excel spreadsheet and a few merged e-mail messages is overwhelming. I can taste the success of a concisely worded, witty e-mail to mothers who want to help, but no one has given them instruction.

When you reach this point—at this exact moment—you must step away. Take a deep breath and cleanse your body of the urge to volunteer out of sheer frustration.

Do not take on one more job because you can do it better. Of course you can do it better—that is why you are making the big bucks. But keep in mind—you can’t do everything and it is not even wise—this event will come and go and no one will remember or care about the lame coordination leading up to it.

Standing in the auditorium lobby of the school during the spring play intermission I spied Ms. Churchlady. Still shell-shocked she was mumbling her mantra—“a form for everyone’s e-mail address, one big list of addresses, a few e-mail notes—that is all it would take. I can do it easily… “ I walked her back to our seats. One more performance—then we are free and clear until next year. I will talk to her later—try to get her to see the light in the Art of NOT Volunteering.

Big Cleansing Breath Everyone


JK @ HandsOn Network said...

Perhaps it is the art of volunteering for the things that truly matter. Not everything has to be done perfectly, but in times of real need, I'll bet your skills are really helpful.

Squirrel of Nyack said...

Kids never really want their moms to volunteer --they might embarrass them.

Does the volunteer mom who stares blankly & does not work outside the home work inside the home? Or does she have an easier life / more time? Maybe she would appreciate kind instructions.

Squirrel of Nyack said...

Seriously though, I do remember all too well what it was like to be an over-scheduled single-mom working long hours outside the home. I thought stay at home moms had it a lot easier. But then, I loved my job... so now looking back, I'm not sure of all I thought back then.

dennis said...

Dennis believes in being waited upon, not on actually doing anything ... Just say no to doing, except when the doing is napping or eating.

LazyMom said...

My feeling on volunteering--if you are not doing it, you shouldn't comment on the poor person who is doing it. It is always easier to make suggestions than actually volunteer. I think JK is right--volunteer for stuff you really care about--don't jump in just because you are frustrated.
As far as moms-in-the-home--I was home with The Beast for 3 months and frankly--I could not get away fast enough. It is a hard and, for the most part, thankless job. I would never suggest stay at home moms are less busy than working mom--I think, however, they have more control over their schedules.

Proud Procrastinator said...

It is an art form...but I'm "working" on it!

I have literally begged my friend the stay-at-home-who-volunteers mom friend that tries in vain to get the other uber moms to work together as if time mattered, to blog her experiences. Of course she won't for fear of getting "outed", but its a shame because that's some good material.