No, I don’t mean faking “it” – like Sally Albright in the deli, sitting with Harry Burns and pretending to have an orgasm in between bites of cole slaw. I mean, life. Do you ever feel like you’re faking it? Like people think you’re one thing and you feel you’re something else entirely? Have no idea what I’m talking about?
Let me try to explain.
My kids go to a public school, but it’s a small community and the parents are VERY involved. My son started at this school 5 years ago, and since I still had a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old at home, my volunteering options were slim. As my younger kids got older and started going to preschool regularly, it was a smidge easier to help in the classroom, but I was still bound by a schedule, and couldn’t do certain things with the youngest in tow. Now that they’re all at school together (hallelujah!) I am at the school a lot.
I work in kindergarten on Mondays, 4th/5th grade on Wed. and Fri, and 2nd grade on Thursdays. I go on field trips. I help sell the produce at our CSA sometimes. I’ve volunteered to be on the GATE committee. Suddenly, I’m more visible to not only the president of the PTA, but the principal, too. Finally, despite being a parent at the school for 5 years, the principal knows me by name. I’m starting to feel more like a true part of the community instead of just an outside observer and occasional participant.
This new found visibility has done a few things for me. 1) More people know who I am, so they’re starting to ask me to help out more and 2) People have gotten the impression that I am capable of certain things.
These are both fine things in and of themselves. I want to be more visible. I want to help out more. I want people to think I’m capable.
Well, last week, the president of the PTA let me know that she and the former president both had this fabulous idea to ask me to serve on the PTA and be in charge of 2 big fundraisers. My first thought was, “uh, hell no!” But instead, the words that came out of my mouth were, “Sure! I’d love to.” As the women from Mommyland would say, “Whuck?”
I said yes, because I was flattered. I said yes because I DO want to serve on the PTA and be more involved. I said yes because it’s a job that is short term and doesn’t last all year, so I can work on another book idea. I said yes because I like being more involved in what’s going on behind the scenes at the school, and I want to do a good job.
I’m a little terrified, though. I’m a little terrified that I’ll screw it up somehow. That I’ll do something wrong and lose the school a huge amount of money. I’m scared that I’ll make everyone on the PTA hate me.
But, I’m going to fake it the best I can. I will smile, I will go to meetings. I will talk to the person who had the job last year, and I will somehow get through it. Hopefully faking my way through it will turn into really doing the best job I can.
Another example is the faith my kids’ teachers have in me. They all know I was a teacher, and I’ve let them know I’d love to be more involved in working with groups and such. The 5th grade teacher has let me take half the class and do a lesson with them. The second grade teacher lets me run reading groups, and today, when 2 other parents (both smart, talented, capable women) and I came in to help with the play they’re working on, she told the kids that “Miss Genevieve and the other mommies” were going to help them. She has put me in charge.
So, when we started the group, I went ahead and took charge. I had the kids come up to the front, I had them tell me who was doing what part, and we went over it. I felt badly, as if I was somehow taking some authority away from the other moms, so I looked to them for their input and ideas. I wanted to make sure they were heard, and a part of the group so it wasn’t just me taking the reigns and being the boss. I hope it was enough for them to feel valued.
I apologized once, to one of the other moms that I consider a friend. I didn’t want her to feel I had just taken over. What she said surprised me. She said she was glad I was there because I knew what I was doing and thought of things that didn’t even cross her mind. She’s not one to sugar coat things, so my instinct is to believe she is being 100% genuine. Which makes me wonder, again, how these people keep mistaking me for someone who a) knows what I’m doing and b) is doing a good job.
I guess, even though I haven’t taught in 10 years, I still have it in me. I guess, after being “just a mom” for 10 years, there’s still a big part of me that’s still a teacher at heart – and maybe I need to cultivate that part. Maybe, just maybe, I can live up to the potential these people think that I have. Maybe I can step up and feel like a truly capable person instead of a 12-year-old who’s faking it, hoping people don’t figure out she has no idea what she’s doing most of the time.
I can’t be the only one out there. Do you ever feel like you’re faking it?