Travails of the second oldest profession – Motherhood

Feeling particularly blah, I was blog hopping, trying to delay the process of thinking up an earth shattering idea for a proposal. In a favourite  food blog (not ours), I learn that there is a concept of “homeroom moms” in schools in the West.  (This blogger writes a small unrelated preamble to her recipes, in case you are wondering about the connection…).

It seems the homeroom mom is a mom who volunteers to help the teacher with mundane office activities like photocopying stuff, correcting answer sheets etc.  This particular blogger, had in the past, been a teacher, and was  condescending towards homeroom moms.  Her claims were that homeroom moms could be gossip mongers and that they could “fix papers” when correcting exam answers.

Here is a mom’s view of why “homeroom moms” is NOT a great concept.

I have, in the past, volunteered to help my daughter’s teachers.  For example, when the kids were taken on a field trip  I volunteered to help mind the kids.  I realised that while it does indeed relieve the teacher somewhat, it puts pressure on the kids. Especially your own.

When I accompanied my daugher’s class on the field trip, my daughter was not quite herself, and very conscious of the authoritative figure of mom around.  How much ever I ignored her, I knew she was looking at me all the time.  I know that she is capable of more exuberance than she exhibited on that day.  And when something went wrong, say a fight with her friend, or food dropped to the ground, she sought me for support and advice. Another underlying, understated observation is that I seem to have noticed all of this when supposedly minding “other kids” – obviously I was as obsessed about the kid as she was about me.

I have noticed the same behaviour during my daughter’s music class.  She performs worse when I am sitting with her in class than when I am waiting outside.  The fact that I was her first music teacher complicates matters.  When she makes a mistake she immediately looks at me, rather than her teacher and it become sticky for all of us involved.  And I end up feeling like the tiger mom who bullies and frightens the kid so.

I remember my mother associating herself with my school and being pals with my teachers, with a couple of teachers visiting our home on occasions.  I never felt good about it because I always wondered what my teacher was telling my mom about me, and if my friends considered my mom’s camaraderie as “sucking up to teacher” – never mind that the teachers were actually her friends from college.  The fact that she was something of a tiger mom (an attitude, which I so consciously suppress) herself, made it very demanding on me, and I was striving to excel in everything – the “first rank mentality”.

Of course, in retrospect, I realise that my mother’s intentions were honourable and what I am now is not little due to the pressures I faced, but I can’t help wondering if the “academic success” worth it after all?  I wonder how it is when your mom herself is a teacher in your school, and perhaps teaches you a subject or two.  Imgaine your exam papers being corrected by mom !

Thankfully, my kid is made of sterner stuff and knows herself much better than I did at that age.  Even so, I have started believing that school and home are two parallel worlds, both wonderful, both educative, but parallel neverthless.  So, I avoid volunteering in school, and stay out in the mosquito-laden corridor of her music class, so that the kid can actually enjoy the process of learning without worrying about amma’s opinion.

I often think that parenting is like groping around in the dark.   We don’t know what to do, we do it anyway.  It is both fascinating and terrifying to think that every single parenting activity contributes to what the kid becomes. What sustains us is the knowlede that people have been doing this job for two hundred thousand years, and we have not yet become extinct.

PS: The title is from Erma Bombeck

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About LG

LG is a science content developer/publisher, lives by deadlines and pretends to be the life and soul of the party. Between deadlines she is comatose and must be scraped off any horizontal surface on which she may be . Her clients believe that she specializes in advanced materials, but she thinks that she is just having fun with words and ideas. And it actually pays. When she is not writing and publishing,she is entertaining her toddler preschooler kindergartner, first, second third fourth fifth class wannabe-writer, or incinerating stuff in the kitchen or going for long long long walks with her dude in the protected forest area in which she lives. A lot about her is at
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3 Responses to Travails of the second oldest profession – Motherhood

  1. leendadll says:

    I don’t remember having any reaction at all to my parents being around when they helped out. But maybe that’s because I’ve always been oddly distant from them (not disrespectful [at least not back then] just not highly connected). My mother was a full-time assistant in several of my sister’s classes and I don’t think she really noticed it either. Though I’m sure she didn’t mind when she moved up a grade and my mom decided to stay with whatever teacher she had been assisting.

  2. sachita says:

    Really interesting, I have a colleague who helps out at school(pretty tough as she has to go early to the school and then come to work) – all in the idea of being more involved with her daughter’s school life and this example states the reverse.

  3. Ana Karin says:

    I am not sure how I feel about this yet. So far, we have not had to decide to be involved or not to. But I have noticed that N is different if I am around for sure. We’ll see what happens next school year, when kindergarden starts! Maybe I’ll have a few posts up on this subject.

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