The Writing Mamas Daily Blog

Each day on the Writing Mamas Daily Blog, a different member will write about mothering.

If you're a mom then you've said these words, you've made these observations and you've lived these situations - 24/7.

And for that, you are a goddess.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


The Anti-Volunteer

I like to volunteer. I do it in different ways and have been doing so since I was a young adult.

I enjoy giving back and helping others. But I have no energy now to assist in my daughter’s classroom.

This is the equivalent of Greek tragedy -- at least to the mother who is charge of ALL volunteers at my daughter’s school.

After scraping the side of my car yesterday -- don’t ask. Oh, alright. I’ll tell.

It had to do with a teenager whose car was taking up too much room at the gas station, which meant my car had to move in extremely close to the pump. There was a barrier. S-c-r-e-e-c-h! The teenager looked up but her thumbs never stopped working her Blackberry and I never noticed her pumping any gas.

A kind woman told me to STOP! She said to turn my steering wheel. She motioned toward the pump. The car scrapped deeper into the pillar. THIS was surreal.

I noticed the teenager was now talking on her cell phone. Was she going to pull out an iPod Nano next? Then maybe her Apple computer? Had she ever heard the word, café? Or maybe, move on?

The woman’s little boy kept jutting out. I thanked her but said not to worry, just take care of her son. She drove away. When she did, three men jumped out of their truck and said to put the car in reverse, turn the steering wheel in the other direction and – wala! – the car was free. But my silver car was now blemished in streaks of white paint.

The woman drove back and explained that when she gave me advice I was already in the pillar.

“This is totally my fault,” I said. ”Don't worry. In the overall scheme of things – this, is nothing. But thank you for offering me help.”

Meanwhile, I raced to my friend’s house, late, to pick up my daughter so she could take her daughter to tennis lessons. I rang the door knocker three times. Sat down. Stared into her driveway and realized: she was not there.

I checked my phone. There was a cheery message from her saying that since I was running late she would just bring Mimi to the tennis club.

I breathed deeply. I had meditated that morning, I would be okay.

As I opened my car door, I heard it groan in a way it never had before. I was walking up the steps to the tennis courts when I saw mothers I knew from Mimi’s school. One mom stopped me and said forcefully, “I need to talk to you.

“You signed a sheet saying that you would volunteer at school, you havn't yet and you have to. We’re short volunteers in your daughter’s classroom.”

For real? In front of all these other mothers, in this non-school setting, after my car is scraped and I’m so fatigued I’m ready to fall asleep – this?

Her tone of REQUIREMENT pissed me off.

I heard my therapist saying into my ears, “You must learn to say no.”

I felt as if I was hearing the voice of God.

With a smile I said, “No.”

Ah, but this is a woman who is used to getting and I would guess bullying her way into most things.

“That’s fine (translation: this is NOT fine),” she said. “But you did sign a sheet and I’m tasked (yes, yes, she ACTUALLY said that word) with finding volunteers. And you agreed.”

“Look,” I said. “I spent a lot of time in that classroom last year. Little of it was pleasant. I’ve gone on every field trip. I gave hundreds of dollars worth of free supplies for the potpourri Christmas gifts last year. Not to mention the hundreds of dollars we gave in pledges. I have way too much going on and I am way too tired and – the answer is NO!”

She harrumphed (it’s not often in life you get to see a person actually harrumph, but when you do, it is glorious), turn on her heels, throw her head back and walk away.

For those who are like me and agree to almost everything someone asks of them, I share this: saying no when someone expects you to say yes feels very good.

By Dawn Yun


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Good for you, Dawn!

Wonderful! I'm going to try that this week...
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