I don’t know why it’s sometimes so difficult in life to push to get what you deserve and need. I haven’t pushed hard enough in some aspects in the past, and I’m trying to remedy that. But the way is bumpy and full of brambles, and I can’t always see if I’m going in the right direction.

The PTA dinners are done. I begged, wheedled, and outright demanded in a panic that people come and help me handle these dinners Monday and Wednesday, as I was left to handle things mostly alone in the fall and it was spirit crushing and physically completely exhausting. My efforts paid off. I had a good amount of help at the beginning and end both nights, and forged a friendly relationship with the ladies who helped out. I think the teachers know who I am now as well, having seen me as the organizers for the dinners, so my mission is accomplished there. This was all part of why I joined to begin with and wanted to find an “easy” (ha) project to help out with as part of my son’s first year in his new elementary school. If all the hard work, stress, all the cases of water I schlepped and food I negotiated for donation mean that even one teacher sees him and thinks, “Oh, his Mom planned those dinners, maybe I will let such-and-such go by without a warning this time,” or something similar, then my work paid off. And even if it doesn’t go that way, I did sort of enjoy getting to know the other ladies and be quickly let in to what some people refer to as a clique. “Clique” as it relates to our school’s PTA quite literally only means, “Those who show up to help out, repeatedly and reliably,” because that’s what these ladies do.

I’m pretty tired from the dinners and mentally exhausted from a lot of personal stuff I have going on. But things are getting done, one at a time, and I will continue to make my way through the to-do list. Next up is to finish my city taxes. And get the scratch on my car fixed. Oh and my printer broke, and I need to see if I can repair it, as I really need a printer at home. The button to turn it on and off broke and I’m going to try to superglue it back together. I don’t hold out a lot of hope.

When I was a kid, my parents did a lot of the pushing on my behalf. Sometimes in an unpolished way, but they got the job done. I had a teacher in middle school who liked to give everyone nicknames, which was annoying. He called me “squeaky,” which I found both insulting and uncomfortable. Either it was a reference to Squeaky Fromme, which obviously isn’t very flattering, or it had a sexual undertone that I didn’t care for. I asked that he stop calling me by that name and he agreed to, and instead made up a name based on my last name that was a bastardization of the name, making it sound stupid. I liked this even less, but he seemed offended that I didn’t like the nickname he picked for me and was determined to embarrass me in class, repeating the name over and over and making people laugh.

So I told my Dad about it. My Dad was sort of a small-town, lower-class version of Michael Corleone crossed with Steve McQueen. So he went to the school and paid the guy a little visit. And then I wasn’t called any nickname, any more, thank you very much.

I’m trying a more subtle approach with my son, paving the way with kindness through PTA work. I had a very friendly conference with his teacher on Monday evening, and she said my son is all ready for the first grade, which is just very hard to wrap my mind around. How did my sweet little baby who slept in the Ergo while I hiked or shopped the farmer’s market become “ready for first grade?” How did the boy who pushed pureed peas out of his mouth turn into the kid who can eat tacos, rice and beans for dinner and still ask for dessert?

I’m also working to make things right for him by working on my own happiness, which is a work in process. I didn’t really put myself first since he was born, and as a baby, that was the right thing to do. But there was no gradual shift to getting myself back and having some enjoyment of my own life as my own person, and now I’m taking steps to take that back, to be a good and happy mom who gives her all to her kid, but who also has her own life and her own friends and her own loving, happy places to be. This makes me better for him – in the moment as his parent day-to-day, but also as a model, an example, and a contrast to his other parent that hopefully shows him people are different and do things differently, and that life doesn’t 100% revolve around him and his whims every minute. If I have to get a little pushy to achieve that balance, well, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, right?


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