On September 1st, at Back to School night, I joined the PTA. I didn't plan on it. I didn't even realize that's where my life was headed until I found myself at a table full of brownies forking over $8 dues so I could eat as many as I wanted. Don't get me wrong, I'm an involved parent. I mean, between Room Mom and Who Gives a F--k, I fall comfortably in the middle when it comes to "being involved". I don't do field trips, classroom read-alouds, or volunteer to be the teacher's copy b*tch, but I DO go to Open House, parent teacher conferences, shell out money for the Fall Carnival and Spring Gala, buy wish list items, contribute funds to the end of the year Teacher Gift, and sign up to bring salad mixes or spaghetti sauces for the Admin Appreciation Luncheons. I'm aware and in the loop but not overly committed.
In some ways I can't be because my life over the last three years has revolved around getting the boys the interventions & support services they need, and well, having another child. The way my stay at home mom life is set up, being available to be in the classroom or running Chess Club or being uber involved during the school day just hasn't been possible...and even if it was, I probably still wouldn't unless the need was significant. I like doing other, non kid related shit because motherhood is an identity I work really hard at not getting lost in. I like devoting myself to other personal interests & passions. I also just like being behind the scenes and contributing in ways that don't force me into awkward moments of small talk with other class parents. I've done it enough at pick up and classmates' birthday parties to know that I'm just not cut out for that life. Or at least I wasn't at Brennan's previous school in Austin where the privilege, affluence, and lack of diversity made socializing extremely uncomfortable at times.
However, things are different this year, at Brennan's new school. We aren't the only Black or Brown faces, and the socioeconomics of the student population are drastically different. While I have a few issues with the availability of support services here, I'm comfortable. So is Brennan. So comfortable that after the Title 1 meeting on Back to School night, when Bren asked for $25 so he could buy a spirit hoodie, I happily agreed and followed him to the table in the courtyard to pay. That's when I saw the brownies. My stomach growled, I heard my toddler screaming at my husband a few feet away, a wave of hormones screamed CHOCOLATE THREE O CLOCK, and as Bren was getting his hoodie, I was stuffing a brownie (okay TWO brownies) in my mouth while filling out a PTA membership form.
I...don't even know who I am anymore.
A Minivan. The PTA. 3 kids. Weeks away from being 33. Stay at home mom. Married.
How did I get here w/ these identifiers?
You think, plan, and work for your life to match this fantasy or ideal in your head, right? Then Life takes a look at what you've got and is like F---- YO PLANS! TAKE THIS ROAD BECAUSE ADULTHOOD AND DECISIONS AND STUFF.
And then before you know it, you're a 32 year old disabled veteran and mom of three w/ an associates degree in communications and a bachelors in forgotten aspirations of being a youth minister/journalist/therapist grabbing more brownies than is probably allowed and forking over $8 PTA dues while your youngest goes ape shit on their dad.
I didn't want any biological children. I took my birth control faithfully. Austin is an IUD baby for crying out loud. I didn't want to be one of those military brats who joined the service like their parents. I thought I'd be a Peace Corps member then an investigative journalist like Lisa Ling or a music critic with a steady gig at Rolling Stone who was actively involved in racial reconciliation work & youth ministry for FUN. At the very least, post kids and military, I thought I'd be a therapist. Through it all, my bottom line has always been my desire to serve and help and fight for others.
That's why at times, it's so strange to find myself here living a life well outside of what I had hoped and tried to plan for myself. It's not a bad life, don't get it twisted. It's just vastly different than what I lived out in my head. Hell, it's vastly different from the one I was living in 2011 when I was a single mom of two attending college full-time, consulting full-time, and living off of GI Bill benefits, Medicaid, and TANF. As much as I wrestle over this What The Actual F--k Am I Doing With My Life Now existential angst that seizes me when my toddler is adamant about sitting on my lap while I use the bathroom, I'm still trying to overcome the feels from THAT.
I'm not complaining though. I'm simply ruminating because I'm tired as f--k and chugging a glass of sangria like it's the blood of Christ that will give me new life to face the tantrums and mayhem of parenting tomorrow.
I'm also sleep deprived. (Aren't we all?)
Life is weird and beautiful...and sometimes it's a smug ass bastard laughing at the stops and detours it's taken you through because it needed you to grow and it needed to be entertained.
I'm still feminist as f--k though. I wonder if that would fit on my membership card.