Recently I heard some of my friends talking about chaperoning elementary school field trips. My kid isn’t to that age yet, so it’s interesting to hear other moms talk about their experiences.
Some love it. Some go because they can. And some were never able to go because of work.
My parents divorced when I was in elementary school. Shortly thereafter, my dad moved to another state for work. That meant my mom had to do the day-to-day heavy lifting.
Even when you split duties, the everyday stuff of parenting is a lot. Doing it alone? Every parent deserves kids who sleep uninterrupted all night so they can do whatever they want to do and be able to wake up to their alarm set for an unreasonably early hour—those who parent alone, especially.
My mom was doing this in the ’80s and ’90s. As good as things might seem now, they were a lot different than they are now.
A Google search of “work life balance for single moms in the ’80s” returns 486,000 results in less than a second.
Compare that to a search of “work life balance for single moms,” which returns 11,900,000 results in even less time.
That’s more than 24 times as many results.
When I specified “’80s,” only one mentioned something positive, and it was about the portrayal of moms on television shows.
I don’t know how my mom did it every day.
To manage it all, she didn’t get to be there for those elementary and middle school field trips taking place during the day—because, you know, she had to work.
My mom’s opportunity to chaperone came in the form of “Band Parent,” when I played the trumpet, and later, the baritone, in the William H. Taft Marching Band. In talking about how this all actually worked, I learned even more about this woman I’ve talked to almost every day of my life:
“To share some of your high school experiences when you were a member of the band, I decided to be a member of the Band Boosters Parent Organization.”
Because football games were in the evenings, she was able to be there as much as possible. She embraced it wholeheartedly.
Parents volunteered as chaperones on the buses, gave us water, and took care of our precious plumes that were literally the feathers in our caps. They did this for games and marching competitions, in San Antonio and on the road in other towns. Not a job for wimps to take on after a long day of work.
When I asked her how she did it, this is what she had to say:
“To participate as a chaperone on the band buses, I worked long hours, going in early and leaving late, even skipping some work lunches, especially when the buses left the school earlier in the afternoon.”
My kid’s not riding a bus yet, but I can totally relate to the long hours and the working lunches.
“I believe we both enjoyed it. Your fellow band members liked Ariana’s mom being the ‘chaperone.’ With fair rules I provided security, praise, approval, acceptance, and most of all, encouragement. They appreciated it.”
I know I appreciate it now, even if I didn’t show it as a teenager.
When the band was called to attention (meaning we were about to get the show started), everyone shouted our motto, “MAKE IT HAPPEN.” The audience would cheer, and my mom’s voice was often one you could pick out when we later watched video of our performance. That’s right—we had our own “game tape,” just like sports players.
My mom made it happen.