By the time my son started school, I had been a Stay-at-home Mum for 5 years. I’d left my career and begun to lose my identity a little bit. Don’t get me wrong, I adored being a SAHM - I loved the freedom, the baby groups, the casual strolls around supermarkets in the middle of the day and the uninterrupted time with my child – but I was lonely. I don’t think I knew how lonely I was looking back now. But joining the PTFA changed that. It wasn’t something I’d planned (or wanted to do) but it’s something that has changed my life forever.
The Headteacher cornered me on the playground one day “Caroline, you’ll be perfect for the PTFA, I’ll see you at the meeting on Thursday!” and off she went. Not feeling in a position to say no, along I went – a little apprehensive and with no idea what to expect, I was totally ignored. Nobody said hello, nobody welcomed me and so I sat, thinking that this was awful and then something happened – the committee were talking about holding a Spring Event. I had remembered Easter Egg Hunts organised by a local community group I had attended as a child, “what about an Easter Egg Hunt?” I piped up, everyone whipped round and stared at me. The Headteacher asked me to explain how I envisioned it working and soon the ideas came tumbling out, the logistics of having 400+ children hunting for eggs and the challenges it would bring sparked something in me. Ultimately the Easter Egg Hunt didn’t happen, I was the new girl after all, and soon I realized that I had a passion for this. I wanted the children at my son’s school to experience some fun and excitement as well as making the school some much needed additional funds.
Within a year I was the co-chair and the summer after, the Chair. I had one simple rule – this had to be fun, I didn’t want anyone to ever feel like I felt at that first meeting. I made a point of speaking to everyone, smiling at all times and generally being open and friendly. The committee changed, new members joined and soon I was surrounded by a group of likeminded women who quickly became some of my closest friends. We dance, we socialize, we wear costumes (well some of us do) but most of all we are there for each other.
Then the other day I found myself awake at 5am taking stock of my life, these women have done more for me than they will ever know. We’re all at different stages in our lives, our children are in different year groups but we’re connected by the PTFA. They’ve lifted me up, supported me in crazy ideas, helped me turn the PTFA into something bigger than I could have ever imagined and more recently encouraged me back to work.
So here I am, 5 years on from that first meeting, a Chair with the best committee I could ever wish for and working in my dream job helping others to do the same. So I guess what I’m trying to say is: give it a go, go to that meeting, dip your toe in the PTA waters. You never know where it might lead you.