Monday, November 10, 2008

We're All White Trash Moms

When the SV Moms sisterhood of bloggers offered a free copy of "The White Trash Mom Handbook," written by fellow mommyblogger Michelle Lamar, I couldn't resist raising my hand for a free copy. Given the title, I just knew this book would speak to me. It's all about bucking the system that expects us moms to be a combination Martha Stewart, Carole Brady and Charlotte York all rolled into one -- a standard of perfection that simply does not exist. Instead, Michelle encourages us to embrace our human frailties, aka our inner trailer park. I'm all about tearing down those facades.

In her book, Michelle gives great tips on how to navigate the rough and often shark-infested waters of modern-day motherhood. One chapter that was particularly helpful was about the Muffia, the pack of wolves that rule your local elementary school, aka the PTA in my neck of the woods.

Ever since I was a little kid and watched my mom go off to her PTA meetings at night, I've looked forward to being an active PTA participant. But to my bitter disappointment, we seem to have landed in a school where the PTA moms, a tight-knit pack of stay-at-home moms, have such disdain for working moms that the vast majority of meetings are right smack in the middle of the day when no working mom can possibly attend. As a result, I have a silent, yet virulent ban on volunteering for PTA activities. The only reason my daughters don't seem to suffer retribution is that, true to Michelle's advice, I remain visible in the school by volunteering in my daughters' classrooms. So far no one seems the wiser, but I have been ITCHING to say something to the Muffia. I'd LOVE for one of them to ask me to volunteer for a PTA program or to wonder aloud in front of me why they can't seem to get anyone beyond their inner circle to volunteer, so I could go off:

"Well, Muffy, now that you ask, you should know that you and your princess posse are known to be the cliquiest clique in the school. If you were to ever actually live down that rep and open yourselves up to being open to outsiders, then perhaps you braniacs might want to consider moving your meetings to the evening when the 70% of mothers who work might be able to join you. Did you know that my job gives me 20 hours of volunteer time off during the year separate and apart from my vacation time? Well, I won't be dedicating a single minute of that time to the PTA. When you choose to accommodate me, I'll be more than happy to help you people out."

And while this rant may be worthy of a white-trash smack down, Michelle advises against it. Instead, she says it's best to make a snarky underhanded comment disguised as a compliment: "Hi, Muffy! You look great -- not nearly as puffy since the last time I saw you! Yes, and I understand your precious daughter is finally doing not so badly in math! That's so great!" Also fun, but not nearly as cathartic.

I found "The White Trash Mom Handbook" to be a great read and lots of fun, but one overriding thought kept nagging at me. As I read Michelle's tips on how to navigate corporate culture that does not accommodate mothers or how to fake your way through a bake sale, I kept wondering why we should continue to play these games? Why should we pretend? Yes, these tips work in the short run, but are they getting to the real root of the problem?

Why can't we just march up to the boss and say, "I have to pick up my kid at school and take him to the dentist. I'm sustaining a healthy human life so our species can continue to exist on this planet. Deal with it." Or why don't we just walk right into that bake sale, plunk down some store-bought cupcakes and proclaim, "On sale from Publix. If you don't like it, you can suck it." Now THAT would be some real progress.

1 comment:

Feener said...

i would not be at all embarrassed to say i bought it....that is something i don't mind saying...