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Don’t Believe What You See In Movies — It’s OK To Be A PTA Mom

Oct 21, 2019

Last year, as I sat in the library of my son’s elementary school on a Thursday night with a cup of coffee and an open notebook, I realized that I’d reached a new parenting milestone: I was officially a PTA mom.

For those who are unfamiliar, the PTA — or Parent-Teacher Association — is essentially a group of parents, school staff and community members who work in partnership with school administrators to support the school and its students, encourage parent engagement and help raise funds for various school-related initiatives. At my son’s school this group is called the School Community Council (or SCC). In Ontario, SCCs exist at every public school.


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At its heart, a PTA or SCC is really just a group of dedicated parent volunteers who want to make the school a better place for their kids and yours.

Full disclosure: I was hesitant about joining the SCC and becoming a “PTA mom” when my son started kindergarten, mostly because of the bad rap that these moms are given online and in pop culture. The stereotype paints PTA moms as judgmental perfectionists who are hell-bent on banning gluten from the school bake sale (see: Christina Applegate’s Gwendolyn in Bad Moms), and I just don’t have time for muffin-related drama in my life. There is also usually an undercurrent of “mom wars” between stay-at-home moms and working moms, which inevitably depicts both sides as tired caricatures rather than complex individuals who are just doing the best they can. Thankfully, as is so often the case, reality is much different from the movie version.

Looking around the room at that first SCC meeting, I saw a group of fellow parents who just wanted to be involved in their child’s school and do what they could to help enrich the school experience for all kids, not just their own. There were working parents and stay-at-home parents, newbies like myself and veterans who’d been attending meetings for years. There were no grown-up “Mean Girls” here — everyone was welcome. And after spending a year on the inside, I’m happy to report that my own experience is nothing like the movies and memes would have you believe.


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If they ask you to come to a meeting or volunteer to help with something, it’s not because they’re judging you or trying to guilt you into getting involved.

At its heart, a PTA or SCC is really just a group of dedicated parent volunteers who want to make the school a better place for their kids and yours. They’re the ones who organize the pizza day that saves you from packing a lunch. They’re the ones who organize fundraisers to help your child’s teacher get some new iPads for the class. They’re the ones who get together the night before the first day of school to write positive messages in sidewalk chalk that might help calm a child’s back-to-school jitters. They send out reminders about field trips, picture days and school assemblies so that even if you’re not the most organized parent, you know someone’s got your back.

That’s not to say that things always run smoothly, of course. After all, we’re talking about a fairly large group of people with different personalities, coming together to work on various projects, committees and sub-committees. There is bound to be some friction from time to time. But it’s not unlike any other team dynamic — some people may click more than others, but ultimately, everyone is working towards the same goal.

So if you happen to be approached by a member of your local PTA this year, resist the urge to dive into the nearest set of bushes. If they ask you to come to a meeting or volunteer to help with something, it’s not because they’re judging you or trying to guilt you into getting involved. As the saying goes, many hands make light work, and more volunteers are always needed. It’s OK to join the PTA! And if it’s not your thing, that’s OK, too. Just know that they’ll be there if you ever change your mind — no bake sale experience necessary.

Article Author Alicia McAuley
Alicia McAuley

Read more from Alicia here.

Alicia McAuley is a freelance writer, editor and all-around web nerd who never met a pop culture reference she didn't like. The former editor of a parenting website, these days she shares a home office in the suburbs with her husband, two adorable boys, and two lazy cats. You can find her cracking jokes on Twitter @aliciamcauley and pinning projects for her to-do list on Pinterest.

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