Each year at the kids' school we have a volunteer-appreciation tea. It used to be a breakfast until someone came to their senses and realized that getting kids to school is enough of a challenge without having to get up even earlier to make it all happen on time while dressing yourself in clothing that matches. PJ bottoms and a sequined tank are a little too much before 8 am--really, a little too 'morning after walk of shame' for elementary school.
The tea was last Tuesday, and as usual, I went. (Dressed appropriately.)
I've always volunteered in the kids' classes. My mad Xeroxing and laminating skills are world-class, baby. The main thing I do now, though, is our school Art Masterpiece program. (It's really rewarding, the kids love it; but also lot of work. I sweat and complain and stress about it from November thru April. I prep the supplies for every class at the school and I teach a class or two; but each class has it's own volunteer to teach the lessons.)
I'm friendly with my kids' teachers, so I was standing around talking with them, when I hear my favorite Kindergarten teacher start talking about the Volunteer of the Year award, and how "a few teachers are gonna come up and talk about her." The group I'd been chatting with walked to the front of the room.
And I got a knot in my stomach, because what were the chances???....nah....
And right then I heard my name announced. I stood there, a little shocked, until they called me to come up too.
They said really nice things about me and it was totally cool. This year, I taught an extra fifth grade class because the teacher couldn't get a volunteer; I was teaching Ben's anyway, so I was already prepped up--I figured why not? I dubbed this class 'the delinquents' in private as they were kinda rough and not always on their best behavior.
I felt <>this big for naming them that when their teacher said how much they enjoyed my visits, and that as they were making me a card that day, they were all contributing ideas for it, of artwork I'd shown them and artists by name. She said they really took in a lot of what I taught them, even if it didn't always seem like it. I was moved. The inside-of-my-cheek biting began, as well as the pinching of my hand I do to keep from crying in public. (I am the world's biggest baby, I swear.)
Ryan's teacher, a man of few words, said a few, the one that made me smile was "when she comes to our classroom, she's like a breath of fresh air." :D
Then Ben's teacher was talking. She's had both Nolan and Ben in her classes, and when she started...well, no amount of any cheek biting-hand pinching worked. I teared right up. She said that the kids liked when I came to class, and that she felt it was a good quality of mine that I stressed to the kids that their finished piece didn't have to look like the example (fifth graders are very into making it look exactly like the example)--that it was their art and whatever they came up with was fine, to express themselves. She then said, "and as an aside, I have to say I've had the pleasure of having both her older boys in my class and they are just fantastic kids, they are such wonderful examples...and of citizenship...." I lost some of this part but then she said "..and I know it's because they have a good example at home, she is a really good Mom." (and then she got teary too)
The last teacher said she echoed those sentiments and how Audrey was like her class mascot. How the lecture I gave the kids on genetics (I'd done it for her last year when Nolan was in her class and did it again this year when they did cell biology) still had the kids talking and asking questions. :D
Afterwards, another Mom came up to me and said she had no idea Art M was a volunteer program; and she went on to tell me how when her children have their lesson, they come home and that is all they talk about.
Yes!!! I heard myself cheer in my head.
I was moved by it all, but the thing that sticks with me is the "really good Mom."
Because as we all know, parenting is the one job in the world where there are no annual reviews. No raises. Aside from the sticky hugs, not many perks. You do it, and hope to heaven you're doing it right, or as best you can, and that you are not raising bad people.
When my friend, my boys teacher, stood in front of a roomful of people and called me a good Mom, it felt like I got an A.
An "A" in Advanced Mommy.
It felt pretty good. It made me feel less guilty about all those times I roll my eyes and count the minutes until bedtime when I hear "Mooo-ooom!" or the number of times I actually say "can you get OFF OF ME?" when Audrey grabs onto an arm or leg or lap again.
And I feel just cocky enough to say this...
Today, I rock!