Stop the Draft!

We have written before about the most polite way in which a well mannered modern mother can decline a volunteer opportunity.  However, in that post we mistakenly assumed that "no meant no."  But it has recently been brought to our attention that there is a certain volunteer elite (let us call her the alpha mother) completely impervious to rejection.  Our source tells us that after she, a well mannered mother, politely but firmly told the alpha mother she could not help with a project;  manila files arrived in her mailbox and an email of her acceptance was sent to the wider community.   Nervy, we know.  And sneaky too.

So, now what?  Lest we forget, being well mannered does not mean being a push-over and anyone who mistakes a polite demeanor for a timid or compliant nature had better look out.  This is the point at which the mannerly mother must demonstrate the iron hand beneath the velvet glove, and not put up with such artifice.  We recommend an email responding to the alpha's email to the wider audience politely pointing out her mistake. (i.e. Dear Madame X, I am terribly sorry that you mistook my refusal to chair the Sunny Hill Spring Dance in the attached email of September 8th, as an affirmation...)   We all know sometimes it takes a village to keep things running smoothly and if a school-wide event such as a fair is taking place every parent should, if possible, help out.  But remember you are no one's Girl Friday.

It is the psychology of this behavior that is most interesting.  Does the alpha mother assume that because we or our children belong to a certain community, we are obligated to give back how and when she wants us too?  Or does she feel manipulated into a role and so assumes she has the right to manipulate other people in the same way?  Or maybe she has simply found that  ignoring people's protests is the most effective way to get them to do what she wants.   Yes, well, as Peggy Olson recently said to Don Draper's weepy secretary "Your problem is not my problem." So, while it may take a village,  the alpha mother's problems are not your problems and your life and your time are your own to manage as you see fit.

Design by Anne Taintor


Anonymous said...

Volunteering is *such* a mixed bag. You get some nice rewarding experiences and a lot of complaints. Thanks for reminding us all that it is optional and should remain so.

Elizabeth Baxter Butcher said...

One thing I didn't mention is that volunteering can also be a great resume builder and way to ease back into the working world a la Comeback Moms

kayce hughes said... have to use them.

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