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An Open Letter to My Son's PTA

by Jordan Sadler  |  4998 views  |  3 comments  |        Rate this now! 

Dear PTA:

First and foremost, I'd like to thank you for all that you do for my son's elementary school. The fund raising, the teacher gifts, the special events - the school wouldn't be the same without you. In fact, your strength and success are among the reasons we chose this fantastic school for our boy when we moved to Chicago last year. When I sat there in San Francisco, trying desperately to imagine my new life here, you were part of the picture. That is, I just knew that I would be among you on a regular basis, devoting some time each week to the betterment of my child's school.

What's that? You don't recognize my name? No, I know, I shouldn't be surprised. One of your members introduced herself to me for the third time recently at the Book Fair, and I was too embarrassed to tell her that I knew exactly who she was because we've talked a handful of times before. Instead I allowed myself to be an invisible mom, one she'd never met. It was close enough to the truth.

I am not a guilt-ridden mother. I have devoted vast amounts of time, energy, and love to this first-grader of mine, and I don't fear that I should have given him more. I love my career as a pediatric therapist and find the work enormously satisfying. I do not regret working part-time. I believe that the idea of the "perfect" mother is crap and am generally content to be the "good enough" mother. So why is it that I feel such guilt about my lack of involvement at school?

I don't fear that I am letting my son down, not at all. I know that the school can function without me. Perhaps it's the comment of the PTA member at one of the rare events I attended in the winter, a fund-raiser kick-off at Cody's bar, that reverberates in my brain so often. I was being introduced all around as new to the school and one mom flippantly said, "Well, now you've met all the parents who do anything at school!" and even if she didn't know it, I knew that I wasn't among them. I was an impostor at that gathering.

I think it has more to do with the fact that I believe in public education, and I know that in order for it to succeed we need as much parent involvement and support as possible. I mean, really! I'm all about kids and learning, it's what I do all day, whether I'm at home or at work. I feel that I have a responsibility to be there, participating.

About the Author

Jordan is mom to two wonderful boys and owner of a speech-language pathology private practice in Chicago, IL.

Read more by Jordan Sadler

3 comments so far...

  • I have a 6 year old son with oral and verbal apraxia. I have been working with many moms like you since my son was two. It is because of moms like you that my 6 year old is now talking and is 90% understandable despite all the predictions that we would never get here. The PTA may not be happy with you, but I will never be able to thank moms like you enough for what you have done for me and my family.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by grjag on 28th March 2008

  • Jordan,
    What a shame that your PTA made you feel that way. As an active PTA member and business owner, I know what you mean about being pulled in 100 directions.

    It seems to me that the PTA should be glad that you are reading their letters before you delete them! It would be nice if working parents were made to feel welcome and valued for the contributions that you offer at your school...At our school, parent involvement includes attending teacher conferences and Parent nights and sending in a dish or item for the teacher appreciation lunches or breakfasts!

    Hopefully, the other PTA members are just overwhelmed with work (albeit volunteer work) and don't mean to exclude moms who work outside the home for a salary.

    It would be nice if we could value each other without feeling guilty or "less than."

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Miriam Salpeter-Keppie Careers on 28th March 2008

  • OMG, this makes me want to cry. You hit the nail on the head and quoting that letter just solidified the whole birdhouse. Thanks for this. It will serve to remind me that we moms, no matter what our role, are of equal importance. I hope everyone who reads this will be able to share it, too.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Mandy Nelson - Dandysound on 31st October 2007