First thing this morning I saw a Facebook post by my older daughter in which she expressed how difficult it was to get other parents to volunteer at her daughter’s school. I read the couple of commiserating comments and then jumped in with my remedy. It was as reflexive as when my 30-year old doctor hits my knee with that little rubber hammer she keeps in her doctor coat pocket.
I knew just how to motivate those other parents. I was on top of it.
So then I went to get dressed for my umpteenth meeting about homelessness and it occurred to me.
Really? You’re telling a 41-year old person who is an executive in a major health care institution how to deal with her problem mobilizing parent volunteers? Are you supposing she’s never run into recalcitrant co-workers or subordinates, that she’s never had to use her cleverness to get people to follow her lead?
The internal discussions one has in the bathroom putting on make-up can be killers.
So, when was it that you organized parent volunteers, Jan? Well, never, actually. I tried to avoid anything beyond signing the paper that let my kids do stuff other people organized.
Okay, I thought to myself. So you not only have decided that you need to give this grown woman, your daughter, directions on how to get parents to volunteer, you also have never actually done it yourself. Am I getting this straight?
I dropped my mascara and went back to Facebook to delete my comment from her post. What a know-it-all I can be, I thought.
No, that’s not it. I’m her mother.
I have four kids. They are all adults. Still when they have problems or when I sense they have problems, I am all over it like a fucking machine. I’m like the ATM of problem-solving. It’s crazy.
When they were actual kids, I probably solved less than 50% of their problems. They grew to understand my essential powerlessness over their lives long before I did. This makes their tolerance of me and my inevitable list of solutions all the more amazing. They must really love me if they listen to all this stuff I tell them.
Lately, well, this morning, I have started a new approach. When my kids have problems, I’m going to ask myself this question: Is this my problem to solve?
No. It’s not. Stand down, Mama. Go read a book, knit yourself a sweater, solve homelessness.
Get over yourself.