Volunteer Fatigue and Mrs. Robinson

The boys went to Aggie Days with their school yesterday.  They came home, alternately raving with excitement about it and complaining about the crowds.  Those are my boys!  They talked about the sheep shearing – sheep are, Jake informed me, very good listeners – and the corn mazes.  The parent volunteer for their group was a friend of mine and was apparently very fun and even let them go through the corn maze a lot!   Note that I was not volunteering.  I received the permission forms and quickly sent them back without checking the “I can help!” box.  Just the thought of riding on a school bus with sixty first and second graders made me feel nauseous, let alone spending the day in a crowded, giant facility looking at livestock.  Not to mention the anxiety I feel spending the day in a crowded, giant facility and being responsible for someone else’s children.

I am also at the point where if one more person asks me to do one more thing on a volunteer basis, I am going to stab that person.  I feel pretty maxed out, volunteer-wise, as I do every year at this time.  One would think that I would have learned my lesson by now.  But no.  This is the bane of the stay-at-home mom’s existence.  The general assumption is that stay-at-home moms have nothing better to do, so they may as well volunteer, and in some ways that’s true.  I certainly have much more time to volunteer than a mother with an actual paying job, and I have much more time to volunteer than a mother with very small children at home.  And so I tend to take on a lot of volunteer related jobs – chairing the PA, for example, or writing for the community newsletter (putting the FREE into free-lance, that’s me), or running the school’s book fairs, or scheduling the community soccer games for, god help me, four years running (THERE WILL NOT BE A FIFTH, I SWEAR, YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST).  But none of these are small undertakings, and by mid-April of each year I have extreme volunteer fatigue.  And so when I get asked to chaperone a field trip, for example, I become unreasonably enraged and stabby, and self-righteously think that someone ELSE can do it for a change, although there is never a shortage of volunteers for field trips and, other than the one time I went to the fire hall with Jake’s preschool (which was for entirely cougar-licious, self gratification reasons), I have never chaperoned a field trip. 

It turns out that my friend who was in charge of Mark and Jake’s group was much more fun than I would have been, anyway.  I probably would have gotten very bored of the corn maze.

Instead of going to Aggie Days, I went shopping with my mom for my birthday, which is in two days!  I need to unpack my tiara and my “It’s My Birthday” sandwich board.  But my mom and I had fun shopping, and she bought me this sweater, among other things:

I like this sweater, but am currently worried that I am bringing to mind that awful saying regarding mutton dressed as lamb.  It’s a crop top, after all, and although I have no intention of starting to wear crop tops with Daisy Dukes, I still feel slightly self conscious.  I mean, I’m going to be thirty-seven in a couple of days.  It’s hard to know what’s appropriate.  It’s hard to be stylish without crossing the line from “fashionable” to “desperate-looking cougar”.  I have an aunt who I recall thinking she was hard-core styling when I was around eleven, but looking back, I think that those hot pink suede miniskirts and tasseled jackets were actually not appropriate for a woman in her thirties.  Although, it was the eighties, so who knows.  Maybe that was appropriate back then.  I had permed hair; who am I to judge anyone?

Here’s a little tidbit for those of you who are in your late thirties or beyond – Anne Bancroft was thirty-six when she played Mrs. Robinson.  THIRTY-SIX.  The thought makes me feel a little faint, to be honest.  As of Saturday, I am going to be older than Mrs. Robinson.

It makes me feel a little self-conscious to go to the firehall to drop off my bag of old batteries, that’s all I’m saying.


  1. Anonymous says

    I quote here from Russell Smith’s column in the Globe & Mail: :
    I get the age appropriate question so often that I know how to translate its code. Here is what it says: “I long to wear sexy and fashionable item X but fear I am too old for X and will be derided for ‘trying too hard.’ I think I look quite respectable wearing X and, in fact, I think this X is quite flattering, but I can’t trust my own opinion on how I look because of a lifetime of hearing and reading caustic comments about what women look like. Who exactly will mock me for this transgression? Not men. I know that they prefer tight clothing and have little sense of ‘appropriateness.’ And not many women would, either. No, to be honest, it’s Ethel Mugstone, a woman in my book club, who makes me nervous, because she doesn’t hesitate to raise her eyebrows when she doesn’t like something and she seems to like so little, particularly since she put on all that weight herself, poor thing.”
    See, if you phrase the question like that, it answers itself. You know you look hot in the extra-slim pants and, for that, you don’t need my permission or anyone else’s.”

    And that goes for crop tops too, sexy SAHM xo

  2. Volunteer fatigue, I hear you. I was asked to be on the PTA board this year. I told the recruiting person that I work full time so I was somewhat limited and was told “oh the meetings are only once a month, and if you can’t make some, no big deal.” Once a month I thought, that’s totally doable.

    God what a stupid newbie I was because I failed to consider that being on the board also meant I needed to go to and volunteer at all of the (thousands??) of fundraising/ socializing/scheduling events too. I’ve spent the last year running around like an insane person between work, school crap, toddler crap for youngest, and sports crap. There is one final big PTA event next month they need volunteers for and I. just. can’t. I am so over it. Am looking forward to the end of the school year as much as (more than?) my 9 year old.

    Field trips are another matter. I went on one when my oldest was still in daycare and decided they are not for me. I don’t want to wrangle other people’s kids. Have never volunteered for another field trip and won’t. Hell on earth for me.

  3. Whoever that is who quoted Russell Smith, I love you. Nicole, you’re thin and athletic and you can wear whatever you want – and I think it’s incredibly cute that you think this sweater is risqué.

    And good for you for knowing when to say no to volunteering (well, for knowing when you should said no five times ago and finally saying no now). It’s not pretty when people take on so much that they’re resentful or think that nothing can happen without them and so do everything half-assed. I just walked with my son’s class from his school across town to the high school to see a play. Man, for kids that I know can move fast, these kids walk really slow.

  4. So if I asked you to volunteer to write for me while I’m making out with all the things meat related you will probably stab me?
    I like goats.

  5. Bancroft was 36, and Dustin Hoffman was 29 — so the casting was fucked all the way around. But it is nowhere near as ridiculous as Angelina Jolie playing Colin Farrell’s mother in “Alexander.” She was 29. He was 28.

    I’m unmoved by the Russell Smith quote. There isn’t a woman alive who hasn’t turned up at some function and realized that the outfit that she’s chosen is inappropriate. Even if no one else notices, she spends the evening feeling miserable and self-conscious, and counts the seconds until she can split. MISTER Russell Smith’s (and yes, I think his sex is relevant) naive attempt at empowerming older women doesn’t change the fact that in our society garish, sexy, fadish, and tight clothing are the hallmarks of youth. Or senility.

    Your new sweater is lovely. Is it possible that you are ambivalent because it’s not black?

  6. I met a woman who will be doing the scheduling of my son’s soccer this coming year and she was already in a tizzy about it. I immediately thought of you. 🙂 I have to admire how much you volunteer, but I agree that there has to come a time when you have some time for yourself. Just say no!

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