22 Sep
The Education of a Room Mom

It’s Guest Post Thursday! (It is Thursday, isn’t it? Time just flies when you’re Swiffering!) Today we welcome an expert at navigating the other moms at school—Lela Davidson! Lela is a fabulous writer who has a new book out called Blacklisted from the PTA. Perfect reading for those of us who’d rather join the Witness Protection Program than frost cookies for a bake sale. Check out Lela’s answer, then check out her book! — Wendi

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

I just became Room Mom of my daughter’s Pre-K class. I didn’t really want to do it, but nobody else volunteered. The first event I did—a Welcome Breakfast–was a simple affair because the kids are still young and I didn’t have a lot of time to organize. I thought it was fine, but now I hear that a lot of the moms were making fun of the event and calling it a “Cheap Breakfast.” Should I say something to them? Make sure the next thing I do is nicer? Hit them with my car? This is all new to me and I’m panicking!


Dubious Room Mom


Dear Dubious,

Wow, and congratulations! Room mom is quite an accomplishment. But be honest, nobody else volunteered? Or did the other moms duck to avoid the flying clipboard you knocked out of your rival’s unsuspecting hands? Maybe not, but anyone who uses the words “event” and “affair” to describe a social event for five-year-olds could be headed down the perilous path of the PTA Queen Bee. Be careful, my friend.

To your question, may I ask who you’re trying to please? Because half those kids would be happy sucking on a glue stick. If it’s the moms’ approval you’re after-good luck with that. Seriously, what’s wrong with a cheap breakfast? What did they expect-scrambled eggs Benedict and Poptarts with the crusts cut off? Were you supposed to spend hours cutting fruit into animal shapes and arranging it on skewers? (Never introduce sharp objects, by the way. You don’t want to arm these women.)

As for what other moms are saying about your efforts, unless you heard this with your own ears, beware of the messenger. She is likely a drama-seeking, pot-stirring, soap opera-watching, bored out of her mind bitch who masks her menace in concern. Maybe she sounds something like this: “Cindy should keep her big mouth shut, except she can’t, on account of the Botox. Bless her heart.”

Or is it more like: “How does it feel when everyone in the whole entire school thinks you’re a cheap skank who doesn’t love her kids enough to buy the real French Toastix?”

Either way, she is not your friend.

And finally, if you’re panicking because you think other moms’ impressions of you will impact your child, let me assure you, they will. These power moms determine who gets the good teachers, the last chocolate milk, and the lead in the school talent show. This is the Big Leagues, Baby. But if you want to play with the mommy elite, you play by their rules, which include conforming to ludicrous standards for the preschool social hour. That said, never EVER waste valuable time endearing yourself to mean moms when you could be sucking up to the teacher instead. Priorities, Rookie.

Managing the academic and social life of your children is difficult, but any woman who navigated the horrors of her own middle school is fit for the task. Hold your head high, toss some grapes in a bowl, and bust out the grocery store muffins. Bottom line, relax. Otherwise you risk turning yourself into one of those bitches I sometimes accidently bump with my car.


Lela, Guest TMH





18 Responses to “The Education of a Room Mom”


Comment by hokgardner.

And if one of the mean moms approaches you directly and criticizes the breakfast, give her your biggest smile and say, “Thank you for your feedback. Can count on your help to make the next one better? How about I put you down for fruit?”

Works like a charm, every time. She’ll either shut up and show up with a fruit plate, or she’ll back away so fast she’ll trip over three kids and never, ever dare complain again.

Win-win, either way.

Karin Reply:

Can I like this like 3 million times!? This is exactly what you need to do.

FYI – my kids’ preschool teacher had a 6-part party formula list

Something Healthy
Something Salty
Something Sweet
Something to Drink
A treat for the kids
Paper products

The class usually has 14 kids in it so 3 lines for each except 2 lines for drinks and paper products. Another teacher added “drinks for grown-ups” (which varies from water bottles to soda to coffee) and then was able to do 2 lines for each.

I found that if you’re more specific, people resent you crushing their creativity or expecting too much out of them.

Lesley Reply:

Yeeeeeeeeeees! Yes! Yes! This times a million.


Comment by Katie.

What’s the point of pre-K if all the mothers are hovering around up there catering events? Isn’t the point of pre-K to get a break from motherhood? You love them, nurture them, feed them, snuggle them at home. Pre-K gives you a break and gives kids a chance to spread their little wings without mom in a safe environment for a few hours a day.
I say never go up there again. Drop off your little one, then go focus on yourself for a while. Pick her up later feeling refreshed and ready to be a mom again.


Comment by Plano Mom.

Popular, not powerful.

Send an email to all. Tell them you received feedback that the last “event” was “cheap.” Ask them to contribute ten bucks each for Starbucks to ensure it is pricey enough next time.

Kristine Reply:

Ohh, I love this.

Though, I’m not sure I’d have the guts to actually click “send”


Comment by Meredith L..

Never underestimate the power of Jewish Mom guilt. (You can borrow some of mine.)

“You guys, I’m so sorry the party seemed cheap. My husband was barely home, our dog got sick, my youngest has croup, the car battery died, and since no one else volunteered to be room mother I figured I had to do the entire breakfast by myself, and this was the best I could do on our minimum-wage one-salary family budget. No, really, I’m so sorry. It’s all my fault.” *cue tears*

Plano Mom Reply:

That’s good, very good.

Meredith L. Reply:

My great-grandmother (may she rot in hell) would have gone several steps further and faked a suicide. But I say reserve that for when the kids are old enough to pretend to be traumatized by it.


Comment by Karin.

So, I was helping a friend set up a meal schedule today for a friend who had a baby earlier this week on http://www.TakeThemAMeal.com (fab for meal coordination for new babies, illnesses and deaths – and YES, people still do that sort of thing and I even back cookies or a pie when new people move in!) and they have a sister-site http://www.perfectpotluck.com – maybe LW could use that?

Karin Reply:

er – bake… I can cook, I just can’t spell…


Comment by rojopaul.

Lela: You are hilarious. The other comments have great advice too (as always).

But the bigger question is WHY are some people so mean? I thought that ended after high school and then I had kids, enrolled them in a private school and couldn’t believe the gossipy, miserable, mean women who were swarming the campus and sticking their noses in everything. I chalk it up to jealousy and insecurity. I’m sure your breakfast was fine and since no one else volunteered, they can suck it!

VG Reply:

That’s what I was thinking! I hate caddy bitches… :-\


Comment by Marinka.

So, so funny, Lela!

I love a good glue stick.


Comment by Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes.

Being European I am a bit mystified by your strange rituals involving school and such like, so my question may sound idiotic: are you expected to pay for the party yourself, do the other parents or the school not contribute?
If yes, I say go with Plano Moms advice..


Comment by NjMellie.

You could always talk with the teacher to get an idea of what they’re looking for in a party or event. That way you generally know what you’re are expected to do. In some cases, they want games, snacks, treats, etc etc. So if you have their input, you can go from there.

I would not worry about what the other moms supposedly said. They had every chance to sign up, they didn’t so they can shut up! Unfortunately, in my experience, you will always find school moms who will complain about what you do, so you need to develop a thick skin to do this job this year.

And don’t do it all yourself! You didn’t say whether you delegated or not, but if not, DO! Don’t do it all yourself! Good luck this year!


Comment by The Woman Formerly Known As Beautiful.

Women are scary as fuck.


Comment by K A B L O O E Y.

Good point, Lela, regarding where the information came from. If it was one source, what are her motives? But this isn’t even school yet and life’s too short to be worrying about how well you catered a party for this lot. If you’re lucky, they’ll impeach you and then you’ll be done with the job. Maybe self-sabotage is in order. Next party: pretzels and beer.

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