Showing Up

Today we had a PTA meeting, and like pretty much every PTA meeting, almost no one showed up. But unlike most PTA meetings, even some of my board didn’t come.

{One of them has bailed on her commitment to tomorrow night as well (we are doing our 2nd parents’ night out).}

We couldn’t get childcare so one of us was up on the yard doing that. In the end it was just three of us from the board and two general PTA members.

{So much left over food.}

It’s so easy to focus on the people who don’t show up. For me, with PTA, the list is so, so long. It can be frustrating. I show up for EVERY SINGLE parent group meeting. No one shows up for ours.

It can feel like we’re working so, so hard and nobody cares. Nobody even realizes.

Because no one shows up. Over and over again they just don’t. They don’t respond to requests for help. They don’t come to meetings or events. They just don’t. show. up.

And I know there are so many reasons, so many valid, legitimate, compelling reasons. I don’t judge anyone for not showing up. It just sucks to to be the one that does.

I was already feeling frustrated today. And I left the meeting wiped. I just felt… done.

But then I had to come up with three things I was thankful for today. For my gratitude journal.

It was one of those days where I had to dig. Deep.

A decent day at work.

Not rushed to make it to meeting.

All I could think of was how no one showed up.

Then I remembered I had to jot down some notes (we forgot to take them because our secretary wasn’t there!) and as I wrote down all the ideas we came up with, I was struck by how lucky I was that one of the two women came today. She used to be PTA president and always participates in the big events, and yet none of us thought to contact her as we were planning. But she showed up with a bunch of ideas and suggestions and offers to help. And I knew when she said she’d do something that it would actually get done. And her idea for creating a competition among the classes for which one sells the most raffle tickets is awesome.

And suddenly I realized the thing I’m most grateful for today is the women who did show up. Because they were both great and we got a lot done and I feel better about the spring fundraiser than I did before, and it was actually a super productive use of my time – way more productive than it would have been if a bunch of random people came. Suddenly the people who showed up were perfect, and the people who didn’t show up didn’t matter one bit.

So today I’m grateful for the people who show up. Thank you.

{I also realized that I’m jealous that everyone else CAN just not show up. I simply don’t have that option. I can’t not show up at PTA meetings (they would probably be canceled if I did) and I can’t just not show up to Fun Nights (I provide almost everything). I just can’t not show up. And that can feel incredibly exhausting. It’s a lot of pressure, and right now I’m not handling it well. I think I need to find some ways to not show up, in whatever little ways I can.}


  1. Sounds like you are the PTO, virtually alone.
    I am glad the past president showed up with supportive ideas, that the people who showed up cared and were productive.
    I wonder what would happen if the PTO just quit. Would it be noticed and what would be impacted? Are there room mothers for each classroom? Can you ask them to poll their classroom’s parents on the subject? Or is there so little interest that you would not get any response? Does the principal and/or any teachers show up? What is their take on involvement? Do parents even join and pay dues like in the past?
    Thank you for what you are doing.

  2. I use to encounter this with condo board meetings. No one showed up and yet they would complain about the work not getting done. That all changed when it was revealed there would be a massive special assessment. Money talks and people getting hit with a bill resulted in a good turn out.

    I’m wondering how other PTAs (the ones that are successful) get people to come. One part is likely due to peer pressure (if you’re not there, then don’t bother being part of our school and good luck with your child getting into a good college), but I’m also wondering if there are dues or some sort of incentive. Kinda like your parents night-out. Sadly, people will flake when they don’t have some skin in the game.

  3. When we have schools where the PTA/O asks for and gets $500 -$1,000 per child at registration for school….and there is no confidentiality about who paid… and your school where parents do not have that sort of financial ability…… Well. No equality of educational offerings is happening. And, this occurs within the same public school district. Now add in Ms DeVos wanting to pass taxpayer money equally per child to private and public schools……. And some private schools are costing 40-50K per year with parent donations on top, so their financial needs are different from the public school, their course material is also different.
    Be registered. Vote. Have voter registration drive at school functions, have your school be a site for voting on election day too.

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