I’ll Never be a PTO Mom and That’s Okay



“Organized Chaos: a situation in which there seems to be a lot of confusion and no organization, which makes you surprised that the results are good.”

-Cambridge Dictionary

Organized Chaos is the title of my life.

When I was younger, I used to dream about having my own family. I’d line up my dolls and make pretend. The mom would have on a pretty dress and the kids would be playing nicely together. The dad would be mowing the lawn and the family dog would be curled up on the couch sleeping peacefully. All with the smell of freshly baked cake wafting in the air….

Ha! If only. 

More often than not, I find myself rushing out of the house in my pajamas, socks with sandals, hair in a messy bun and a baby on my hip, all while rushing my teenager out the door. I usually hand her a $10.00 bill for school lunch and quickly wave as she slithers out of the car, secretly hoping no one sees me in my cool outfit. (I think she may even run a little.)

Why is my life organization chaos? Picture this: The night before I prepped for the morning. I am the queen of prepping for the next day. It makes me feel like I have some semblance of control over my crazy life.

I made a nice lunch for my daughter, laid out an outfit for me and the baby and had breakfast prepped. Problem is, in answering work e-mails, and trying to stop an 11-month-old from climbing into the fridge, pulling the dogs tail, and defusing a major fashion meltdown from my teenager, I managed to leave the lunch out all night. And the outfits? Well, my alarm never went off, so pajamas it had to be, otherwise we’d be late and that just wouldn’t do.

As I drove away from my daughter’s school, an e-mail from the school PTO dinged (I danced in my seat a little that it wasn’t work yet), reminding me that I had signed up to bring cupcakes today for the teacher appreciation day. 

Cue panic.

I, myself, am a professor. Education runs through my veins. I’d do anything for our teachers, and any chance I get, I sign up to bring baked goods, buy supplies, or send a thank-you note, but apparently remembering to make cupcakes is a challenge. I only had one job and I failed.

Gone are the days of daydreaming of being a perfect mom. Reality has set in. Parenting is tough.

In the middle of my pity party, I glanced in the backseat and my son smiled at me, babbling happily with some drool dribbling down his sweet little chin, and I realized my organized chaos is all worth it. I pulled quickly into the grocery store, bought the best, most premium cupcakes, snagged a few coffee gift-cards, and headed back to my daughter’s school. I got a few looks as I struggled with the massive baby stroller, my messy bun bobbing on top of my head, but the looks weren’t dirty, they were looks of understanding, compassion and solidarity, because other parents get it. This job ain’t easy, but we do it with our full hearts. 

The receptionist greeted me with a smile, without any judgment, just kindness. She sang my praises as she took the goodies and commented, “It’s parents like you that keep things going.”

As I walked away in my disarray, remembering the stressful night before, and even more chaotic morning, I realized, I will never be a PTO mom. I won’t ever have everything in my life together and more often than not, I will be buying baked goods from the grocery store. But you know what? I will never let my children down, renege on a promise to them, or miss an event. I will cheer them on every step of the way and be “the mom” that is proud of her children no matter what. 

Perfection and parenthood do not go hand in hand. What works for one parent most definitely will not work for the other. So, I commend all the PTO moms and dads who manage to participate and make it look so darn easy! Know that I will always be there to buy you some delicious treats and support you however I can—I may just look a little crazy doing it. Because at the end of the day, I will always show up. 


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