It's a good thing I chose to wear makeup last night. At the last minute, I thought, hey, there's going to be lots of people there, let's fix up the hair and put on a little lipstick.
Good thing. Because I found myself at the front of the room with a microphone, saying the words I never dreamed I'd ever say: "I'm Sunshine Cowgill, and I'm your Booster Club President for next year. T-shirts are on sale in the back of the room." That was what was on my cue cards. I swear. I just repeated what I was supposed to say. I was a little shocked, but what could I do? All those people were in there, potentially looking at me as I mouthed the words..." ". Yeah, that's right, I was speechless.
How did this happen, you might ask? Good question. One day, I received two separate phone calls from current Booster members saying that they thought I'd be a great president next year and asking if I'd consider running. I was floored. I mean, I couldn't even get elected to student body secretary in 6th grade, let alone anything where I had to actually do something. Truth is, I was really flattered. I didn't imagine anyone would ever think of me for something like that. But the honor is a little dubious, since no one else wants the job. Not a lot of competition to beat out. Still, I do feel honored.
But I also feel unqualified. So I said thank you, but no. Not just speaking modestly and saying I'm unqualified, but actually unqualified. I don't know anyone here, have no ties to the community, and most importantly: I don't know how PTO's and PTA's work. I don't know how school districts work. And I'm already doing all I can do in a day and more. I say inappropriate things. I swear. Hell, I need adult supervision.
So how did I step on their trap? How did I not see the smirks on their faces? I swear there were smirks. I knew something was up, but I didn't think I'd fall for it. Guileless, I just repeated the words. It's true, I was tricked. But I could have simply not said it. I could simply have said, "I'm so sorry, I can't do it." But the truth is that no one else would step up and do it. Okay, maybe someone would. But who? When? I was worried that my son's school wouldn't have a Booster Club President, for Goodness sake.
People, there are doers and do-noters. There are commitmentphobes. There are full-time employed single parents. But I have discovered that the amount of stuff a person has on his plate doesn't seem to have anything to do with whether or not they step up and volunteer for something. People are just simply leaderless, or maybe they are fearful of getting in over their heads, or they are selfish.
People, step up to the plate and help the world out. There are jobs large and small that need doing, and no one is going to do them but you. Don't be afraid to ask for a specific assignment, to ask how large of a commitment it is, to admit that you don't know what you're doing, but you'll try. I suggested just this week that a woman I know start her own Girl Scout troop. She said she didn't know how. Well, shit, sister, neither did I. But I survived half a year with 12 (now 9) tiny little Daisy Scouts. (Okay, it nearly killed me, but still, I made it.) Afraid that others will complain about your performance? Who cares? Do you see them volunteering? All you have to do is simply say you are going to do something and then do it. That's it. No flaking out, obviously, you have to follow through. Take the leap. Say you'll do something. And then do it.
Your child's school, baseball team, youth group, Scout troop, choir, friends need you. I am not just doing this because my son's school didn't have a president. I am doing this because your son's school didn't have a president. I was already volunteering, I was already doing. Now I am doing more. And you can too! Don't be afraid, you can do it! Every meeting, every gathering, every whatever, it's the same handful of people doing all the work. Just because we are doing it doesn't mean you are off the hook. Just because we are surviving doesn't mean that we don't need your skills, no matter how great or meager.
Sure, the meetings aren't that fun. We don't have cocktails and play games. It's business. But it's business that needs doin'. And plus, there are some really witty, fun people that I've met and become friends with. I owe all my current local friendships to my involvement in some way or other with my children's education and activities. I have fun at meetings. (Prolly cuz I can't keep my mouth shut, but hey.) I crack jokes. They may or may not be funny, but I'm having fun, anyhow. Who cares? I show up. This is all part of my life, part of what I do all day, and I actually think I'd miss it if I quit it all. (Though I'd get a lot more sleep!) Those moments driving across town, when you're talking to your kids in the rear-view mirror? That's your life. You are spending time with the people you love. You are talking to them and teaching them and learning from them. Those conversations with other parents after pick-ups and drop-offs, on the sidewalk, in the driveway? That's your social life. And I don't mean that in a bad way. I mean, not every moment is a red carpet moment. Not every evening is a sunset on the beach evening. There is a great deal of joy to be had in the little transitions when you see your friends and spend time with your children. These are smell-the-roses opportunities. There are actual roses by the sidewalk, know what I mean?
I don't know if I can do this job. But one thing's for sure: they must be desperate, because they asked me. So I'm doing it. Maybe I won't have time and some things will slip through the cracks and someone somewhere will be angry with me. Hopefully it's not someone who either pays me or whom I care about. On the other hand, maybe I'll be a great president.
All material on this site (c) Sunshine Gladish-Cowgill except where otherwise noted.
The Cinderella (also known as Maid with Movie Magazine) in my title is by Norman Rockwell from The Saturday Evening Post. I think it particularly captures a moment in domestic life, especially for a young woman.