Book Club Monday #4

Memorial Day! Here’s hoping everyone is off of work, and doing something fun… like reading! Easy on the Eyes will be hitting shelves sometime in July, so the countdown continues with week 4 of my online book club! We’ve been talking about Odd Mom Out and Mrs. Perfect—my two books that feature some of the same characters from Easy on the Eyes. I love hearing reader feedback, and this forum is no exception, but here’s the best part for readers: your comment on each book club question enters you to win an Advanced Reading Copy of Easy on the Eyes. Read it before you can buy it! Then you can tell everyone about it.

Last week we discussed Mrs. Perfect. This week let’s talk about a topic from Odd Mom Out:

Are you a PTA mom? Do you volunteer a lot at school or have a say on committees? Do you find it a satisfying role to play? How do you juggle work, family life and volunteering? Do you ever feel guilty for not being involved enough in the school’s PTA activities? Are you an Odd Mom Out in the life you live?

Feel free to contribute without having read Odd Mom Out, but be warned that the comments that follow may contain spoilers.

For more Odd Mom Out, read an excerpt, download the whole Reader’s Guide, check out some book extras, and order your copy from Amazon!

About TIMING of PRIZES: The winner will be drawn (randomly, of course) shortly after the next book club gets posted. So, sometime next Monday, when I find a sliver of time between sleeping and caring for a itty-bitty baby, I will do the winner thing. If it waits until Tuesday, no one stress, okay? Thanks! And thanks for participating!


  1. About the time I read Odd Mom Out, I also read an article or blog you had written somewhere about your thoughts on the subject of volunteering in school.

    I have to say that blog really spoke to me.

    I am not a PTA mom, and often think I should join the parent council at my son’s school, but the truth is I just don’t do well in that sort of meeting environment. I’m too impatient, and I find I put a lot of unnecessary stress on myself in that sort of setting.

    I work full-time and the after work time is all about my kids…I don’t want to be tied into anything that takes me away from them afterschool and in the evening. My husband and I both volunteer in the classroom and on field trips as often as we can, and to me that’s the best thing I can do for my kids at this point. And it is so important to them, they are so proud to show Mom and Dad how grown up they are at school. Maybe that will change when they get a bit older and are embarassed of their parents…that’s when I’ll have to change my school role!

    That being said, I do have enormous respect and admiration for the parents that don’t work full time and are able to organize fundraisers, teacher appreciation events, and other classroom events. It is a wonderful thing they do, and I am ever so grateful they give so generously of their time.

  2. I had no kids of my own but at age 39 inherited 3 teenagers, 2 boys and a girl(she was not living at home). The boys ere with us 2 yrs. and 1 yr. so never had much opportunity although I did go to parent-teacher interviews.
    My youngest sister is very involved and helps out in class and sends snacks when warranted, etc.

  3. I was involved in our son’s early school years, but as he got older I worked more hours and dropped participation completely when I worked full time and went to school at night to finish my BA degree, which at one class a quarter, took me six years. I “graduated” from college the year before he did from high school, so my husband took over lots of the school duties. I did bake cookies and do what I could to support the teachers, but I had never gone into the classroom past the first grade anyway.
    After that he was transferred to an enrichment gifted program at one of the schools mentioned in Odd Mom Out and I volunteered one year for the Halloween carnival. I was blown away by the elaborate costumes and valuable prizes donated. I felt like I had sneaked into the country cub as a scholarship intruder. I saw the moms like Taylor as superficial snobs and at PTSA meetings the amount of makeup and gold jewelry worn was over the top. It seemed to be all about the bling and I was very much the Odd Mom. He was only there one year and moved on to another program at a different, more economically diverse school where the PTSA meetings were more about the kids and less about the status games of the parents.

  4. I am a stay at home mom and I do volunteer a lot through the classroom and on field trips. I don’t do too much with the PTA because it’s just a huge headache.
    I don’t know what happened to activities like field day and the fall carnival. It used to be so simple!
    We moved to an area with more money and the amount of time and money that the PTA puts into some of these activities is just ridiculous. And the amount of time and effort our PTA expects from us room moms is just out of hand. It is a full time job and I have 3 children and 2 different schools, activities, and housework and just trying to squeeze time in for myself-I refuse to have my hand in the PTA as well. I volunteer weekly at both schools and help the teacher as much as I can but I don’t get involve with the politics of PTA!

  5. My kids are both in college now, but when they were little, I did volunteer for field trips, class parties, etc. I worked part time so it worked out really well.

  6. I’m joining the Parent Council next year, and am feeling some trepidation. I don’t feel like I’m ‘that’ kind of mom (which I suppose is a Marta-like thought), but i love my kids’ school and want to be involved. So we’ll see how it goes!!

  7. I’m not a Mom so I really can’t answer any of your questions directly. I know second hand what my sister has gone through in raising her 3 children. She is a physician & does a balancing act between family and career all the time.


  8. My only child is in college now but when he was younger yes I did feel guilty for not being more involved in the PTA, but I worked full time out of town, about 40 miles form the school. I always tried to go to a few of the meetings and if the class needed snacks or something I always tried to help.

    I hope little Mac is doing a little better. You could also try getting one of those baby carries that attached to you and take him for a walk. I wish you and Mac all the best! I am praying for you.

  9. Now my only child is 30, so at work with the younger women (I’m a young 49) I still feel like the “Odd Mom Out”.. while he was in school, we lived in the NW in a gated community, with the Mom’s driving SUV’s and all involved in their kids school life to the “abnormal” point. I always felt “out”,and “guilty” for not being more involved in the PTA and other “Mom” clubs. Fact was, the women were not “nice”.. snippy remarks about what you were wearing, where they were going on vacation, ect… I was very liked by all my son’s friends, and had good snacks for them, there was always an extra place for dinner and a ride home if needed.
    As Karma has it, some of the women in the neighborhood groups left or were replaced by a “new model”, or in some cases “a nicer one”.

  10. i always felt like a odd mom out with my son’s friends parents. me being the single + younger parent, who knows what they thought about me????

    lucky for me, my work did allow me to take a day here and there for field trips or in-class plays. i would of loved to have volunteered more and now i get a second chance to do so with my daughter.

  11. I work outside the home four days a week, write at night and volunteer at school for my three younger boys on Fridays PLUS I volunteer for my oldest son’s high school soccer team.
    I am the yearbook staff at my three younger boys school. Notice I said yearbook staff is only ME. Of course there were volunteers who never showed.
    I volunteer so I can be with my boys and keep up on their life outside our home.
    I only have a few more years and I am already sad b/c they aren’t embarrassed of me and for that I am grateful!!
    A little part of me is excited that I will get to spend that time writing.

  12. I volunteered at my children’s school, taking preschool classes on field trips and doing art projects with them. I read them stories and we did little dances and songs together. I worked only part time at another job. I figured that through volunteering I could see first hand how my children were doing in school. They were young, and enjoyed having Mom near them.

  13. I did volunteer for many duties and felt that was rewarding and important. School days go too quickly so it was a great experience.

  14. I did volunteer for different things if they happened when I didn’t have to work. I didn’t go to the PTA meetings because I just didn’t have the time. I tried to do enough that my kids could see that I supported them and the school. It is hard to find the time, though, and I think it would be very difficult for a single parent to be able to volunteer for many of the activities since they generally occur duing what are typical working hours. I think the important thing is to explain to your child if it is difficult for you to volunteer and try to find something that you can be involved in with your child.

  15. Definitely an odd mom out. I try to do some of the things like field trips and snacks for parties, etc. (my son just finished kindergarten). I do know some of the Taylor types, however they live on the other part of town. I live in a working class neighborhood and couldn’t be happier with that. My son is best pals with a kid whose mother volunteers every Friday in class. She is an amazing woman and so genuine. Most of the PTA moms in our group our like that. But, again, it is a working class community with a strong charter school, so we don’t have the silent auction/gala types of events. We do basic stuff that helps the teachers and classrooms in terms of funds and supplies.

  16. When the kids were much younger I would go into the classroom often to read. The children loved it and the teachers appreciated it. As they got older that kind of participation was no longer needed. As for the PTA…not my thing.Our small private school was controlled by a few families…the biggest donors. Giving money is a great thing. When it comes along with a “here’s what you have to do to get my money” pricetag, you lost me there…not my values. The teachers were great though and my kids were happy, so we stayed.I’m happy for the opportunity to spend time in the class, giving where I was most needed and appreciated.

  17. Hi Jane: My girls are grown now but I did try to join the PTA once. They had elected a new president and all she did was yell at us stating there would be no Halloween walk that year, no parent student lunch and on and on and on. That was it – I was done. I did send in cookies and cupcakes when required. I attended all open house activities. I did as much as I could for a single mom working full time. I did the sports thing with my oldest – dug out Mom (softball) was it hot in that dugout. And then the youngest was cheerleading and dance. I look back and we were always running here or there. Trying to get them both to their activities and of course usually on the same night or afternoon. I loved it and wouldn’t trade those good times for anything in the world

  18. I tried. I had moved to WA state from Oregon when my youngest was getting ready for preschool. In grade school I signed up for birthday cupcakes and got to make them one time. These moms, well most of them had known each other for years and it was like I was an outsider forever. We tried to get involved. My husband and I paid the dues every year but after a while, we gave up doing more than paying. Sad but some moms are just too out there for me.

  19. I definitely feel like the Odd Mom Out. I’ve tried PTA and different clubs and just don’t feel like part of the clique.

  20. Jane, I was not a working mom when my kids were little so I participated in everything within their school system. I was on the PTA, I did Cub Scouts (still shuddering over going ice fishing and the grub worms they used for bait) along with the Girl Scouts (my hips still bear the cookies I’ve bought and consumed) and everything else in between. But I thoroughly enjoyed it and wouldn’t trade a minute of it for anything in the world. I’m recently a colon cancer survivor and very grateful that I am here to still share with my children, who are now 24 (a son in the Army and deploys next month) and a 26 yr old daughter (who lives a mile away). There is nothing I wouldn’t do for my kids, even to this day. Enjoy your children, they grow up so quickly.

  21. I was a PTO mom — served two years as President, before that held almost every post possible –and I seriously thought about writing a novel with a character who puts up with the absolute crap I put up with. But still, I would do it all over again. I learned a lot and developed new skills — though I did shed a few tears along the way. (Seriously, I did.)

  22. I work part time and am a room parent and volunteer for way too much stuff. Do I find it satisfying-sometimes when I am with the kids-but all too many times I feel that it is just all too much. An example would be the over the top 6th grade pool party-I was assigned to be “transportation”. This event is 6 blocks from the school and I spent and hour and a half last night coordinating drivers and checking as to whether the kids are pool safe. Somehow there needs to be a correction to all this involvement-it is not good for the kids to have these over the top events and not good for moms who have so much else to do. Next year will be less commitments and more time to focus on family needs and work for me. I love Odd Mom OUt because Marta put a voice to so many things that have become a burden. It is concerning that there is so much judgement as to how much one participates and the friction between working moms and stay at home moms or my category-part time work and no child care or help…just trying to do it all!

  23. I haven’t done too much with my daughter’s school since my son was an infant when she started and they told me outright that he was not welcome at the functions. That if I wanted to help out, I had to come alone. Well, I can’t do that. My parents are 2 hours south of me and my sisters both work full time. So, now it’s 5 yrs later and she is headed to Middle School in September and the younger one is finally headed to Kindergarden…I do feel guilty towards my daughter, of course, but not towards the school. I just don’t agree with that rule. I think it is completely silly. Not to mention, my son is really well behaved and would have been fine coming with me to these functions. But on the positive note, I am hoping to make up for all the time I have missed now that he will be in school full time!! The poor middle schooler won’t be too happy when she realizes she can’t get rid of me at school now!! Hahaha

  24. I would have to say that I am not a PTA kind of mom. I do love making cookies, cupcakes, or rice crispie treats as needed and helping out in the classroom, but the PTA mentality is not me. Sadly I find that it isn’t about the kids but the moms who feel they have power to do as they please because they can. It is a socialite society and do not have a reality base of the common single mom. I really do not have an extra $100 for a coach bus vs the good old school bus for field trips. I guess for me it’s not about glam and glitz, more perhaps about being there for your children, having a blast along the way and getting my hands dirty along side them.

    As a family we go together to every function, open house and sports activity. To me it’s really about knowing who your children are, who their friends are and that they know you are there for them…even as embarrasing as it can be at times! (for them) LOL

  25. Back when my oldest daughter started Elementary school 9way back when) I tried to join the PTA. I found after a couple of meetings they didn’t care about my thoughts they had their own agenda and just needed people to do their dirty work for them.

    So, after a couple of meeting and being ignored I became a great room mother. What ever the teahcer needed Kleenex, hand soap, snacks you get the idea.
    When my youngest was in elementary school I volunteered every Friday for a year in the schools’ library for a couple of years. Helped with the book Fair for many years and also the free books that we gave out to the kids about 3 times a year. Becaue my youngest had Type 1 diabetes I also volunteered in the clinic when I was needed. I help the school nurse run a clinic one year that tested all the kindergarten kids eyes.
    I always came when a teacher asked me to be there , chaperone a field trip what ever they needed me to do.

    Back then I can most certainly say I was an odd mom out. Even the secretary’s treated me different than the way they treated the PTA moms. Any way that was a life time ago, thank goodness.

  26. When my oldest was in K (she’s now finishing 6th) I was working part time so I figured I would volunteer at her school and become part of the PTA to get involved. I immediately saw the agenda of the two “power” groups who were busier fighting with each other than welcoming new moms and dads who were not yet jaded and more than happy to help out. I will say though that those groups of women, despite not being very warm, got things done for the school and put in countless hours doing so. Needless to say, I became more involved with the behind the scenes things – taking photos for yearbook which segued into chairing yearbook for two years, and helping to put out a biyearly publication of the students’ work. I found it much more satisfying to be a class mom than a committee chair. My youngest is starting K in September and I will get back into the swing of things then.
    Now that I am working full time again, and have been for 4 years, I am amazed by the number of women I know whose kids are all school aged, who don’t work, and who do nothing for the school. They go to the gym, they lunch – but are not involved. Not sure if they just don’t care of if it’s”beneath them.” I know that the grass is always greener, but if I had the luxury of their free time, I would absolutely be up at my kids’ schools as often as I could.

  27. Both my kids are in 6th & 8th grade this year. I was on the pre-school board for several years and very involved so it took me quite a few years before I joined PTA. I did enjoy it besides the drama that goes with it. Many parents loose the sight that this is FOR the KIDS/SCHOOL. Not for you! My last year at the grade school I chaired the basket raffle for the spring carnivale. In middle school I haven’t done much but donate things. I was always a room mom alternating between the two kids every year.

    I was at home and didn’t have time to always volunteer during the school day since I cared for my friends’ kids I always kind of felt like Odd Mom Out. We didn’t socialize much with the other families who had connections through sports and scouts. (Our kids dance so I do help a lot at the dance studio.) So I did feel like Marta — on the outside of the fringe.

  28. I’m not a Mom… but I have a feeling that I’m going to be an Odd Mom Out…

    I just hear my future kids telling me to stop being weird.

  29. I’m definitely not a PTA mom. Mine are still under age 2 (well, the oldest turned 2 last week), and I’m of the “drop them off at daycare so Mom can have a life” mom. I’m comfortable with this. I think my mom friends secretly envy me. Although some of them ask if it’s hard leaving them at daycare. Are you kidding me? I can’t wait to drop them off!

    I don’t see this changing much once they’re in school. I’ll volunteer for the occasional field trip or bake sale, but I’m expecting the other moms to look at me as the annoying woman who never brings snacks.

    I also refuse to have mom hair or wear mom jeans. Last month I got a tattoo. Although I still get alone with the other moms in the groups I attend, I am somewhat of an anomaly, I think.

  30. I am definately not the PTA Mom type. My oldest child is only in preschool, but I went on her very first feild trip just a couple weeks ago. As she grows older, I won’t be a PTA mom. I don’t have enough patients to sit still through those kind of meetings and listen to people bicker. I am more of the fun type of mom who loves to bake with the girls and do crafts. I will pass on the headache of Mom’s on power trips at the PTA meetings. I feel there a lot of moms in it for themselves and not the kids or the school. I will stick to the fun, no stress events like field trips! Life is complicated enough to add more to worry about! 🙂

  31. Hi Jane,

    I would have to say YES that was me the typical PTA mom, if I was the PTA president at my kids school for 5 years. I just loved it,and I had the best PTA board to help me. We we were lucky we were able to do alot of things for the parents and children. I also worked at the school part-time. Somedays it felt like I lived at that school. I look back now and I wouldn’t change it for the world. My kids are older now, middle and high, and it’s just not cool to have your Mom hanging aroung the school.


  32. Well, I’m a little late, but I’ll comment anyway! I am very involved with my kids and their school. I have one finishing 3rd grade and one finishing Kindergarden. Whew! I volunteer in the library for both classes to help check out books, find books, and then I read to them. I love it! I also help in both classrooms when I can for field trips and parties, as well as stations. Our last art project was clay that we had gotten from Margaret Hudson’s and they made wonderful animals and flowers and things I can’t even begin to describe. Our PFC (PTA) is great and I help with that, but do not serve on the board, yet…..School carnivals, back to school BBQ, silent auctions…….it goes on and on, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Being involved with my kids’ school keeps me in the loop.

  33. Blog Book Club Contest Winner!

    Good afternoon, everyone. I’ve randomly drawn a name out of a hat and this is what I got:

    Congratulations to #14 Maureen, you are this contest’s winner. Please send me a private email with your address and we’ll get your ARC of Easy on the Eyes out in the mail to you.

    Thanks to everyone for discussing the novel and let’s have another great conversation this week! I hope to see everyone’s reader reviews online (at your blog, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble, Facebook…).


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