We can learn a lot from the mothers around us.
Last week, I learned a lot from a mother named Katharine. No, this is not my own advice masquerading as the advice of another mother. I did, legitimately, learn a valuable life lesson from a woman—who happens to have my same name.
I think it was the universe telling me I should pay attention.
Tuesday was Back-to-School night at my son’s school and all the parents (95% mothers) poured their adult-size bodies into second-grade-size chairs and pretended like we were comfortable doing so. The main task of the evening was to fill up the calendar of parental involvement for the entire school year. You know, things like building sets for musicals, driving four to five kids to the pumpkin patch, or taking pictures during the Easter party. In other words, the stuff you hate committing to, but end up loving when you show up and deliver.
In this case, the room mothers sat in the front of the classroom and called out one activity at a time and signed people up according to the show of hands—paper products for the Valentine’s Day party, who’s in? Coordinating the yearbook photos, who’s got their hand up? Captaining the coolest Field Day around, who’s coming with me?It was my first time at this rodeo, and I’m not going to lie; I was scared.
My inner dialogue had its own Field Day as I watched the hands shoot up left, right, and center. Should I volunteer for more? I should, right? Because that’s what “good” mothers do—we show up for our kids. But I was torn. Between writing a book and working for The Mom Complex, signing up for anything other than bringing napkins would very likely result in a total and utter disaster.
And that’s when Katharine entered the room.
A mother to one of the boys in the class, Katharine did not opt to sit in her son’s pint-size desk, but instead elected to stand in the doorway and magically disappear and reappear in regular intervals. Armed with a digital copy of the school calendar on her iPad, no matter where we were on assignments, Katharine immediately caught up.
This woman was not afraid.
At one point, when she reappeared, we were at a stalemate for who would bring baked goods for some event I can’t even remember. One of the mothers immediately said, “Hey Katharine, do you want to bake something for this event? We need one more volunteer.” And without the slightest pause, Katharine replied, “Nope. Not my game. I know my strengths. I’m good at taking pictures and supplying paper products. I’ll sign up to be the photographer for dozens of different events, and I’ll even get the school logo printed on the napkins I bring. But I don’t do baking.”