The most dedicated servant is always the last to see the layoff coming.
One minute, you think you have the utmost in job security. You’ve served the organization loyally. Diligently even.
You’ve worked weekends, evenings and holidays. You’ve never taken a sick day (although, truth be told, your coffee and restroom breaks could be viewed by some as excessive).
You’ve been with the organization from its first faltering starts to a point when it seems entirely possible that worldwide domination is soon to follow. Clearly, you are indispensable.
Then the kindergarten bus shows up and in the blink of an eye you are out of a job.
Downsized. Through summer’s end I had fretted that my youngest child, a.k.a. “mommy’s girl,” would struggle with the separation.
We had read all the right books from such illustrious titles as Clifford Goes to Kindergarten to Countdown to Kindergarten. We had visited, oriented, and endlessly discussed every aspect of the education experience and related accouterments.
We went as far as to Fed Ex the perfect lunchbox that she just “had to have” (according to me, by the way).
We were a well-oiled, education-minded machine.
Like any shortsighted but endlessly loyal employee who automates herself clean out of a job – I performed my duties all too well.
Oblivious to the handwriting on the wall, or chalkboard as the case may be, I diligently put her on the school bus at the end of the drive.
One more goodbye. Before the bus had shifted into gear, however, I was in my own car, bent on following the bus all the way to school.
Unfortunately, I had forgotten the all-important name tag that marked her as a kindergartner. I spent the interminable four-minute commute to school consumed by an irrational fear that she would be forever lost in the halls, mixed in with the herd of older kids and swept into the third grade or somewhere equally rough and never seen again until some future graduation.
‘You’ll be fine.’ Catching up with my little vagabond safely ensconced in the kindergarten holding area, I prepared myself for my grand mothering moment. My gold watch ceremony, so to speak.
She would need me, and I would swoop in to be both comforting and wise. To hold her hand, perhaps, or at the very least tuck a little note with an “x o” and a kiss in her pocket “for later.”
She would be teary-eyed, but brave. I would be the model of mothering decorum as I sent her forth into formal education.
Then I would go get in my car and have a good long cry.
I had it all planned (the way you do an impromptu acceptance speech for an award or honor you aren’t supposed to know you’ll receive – but do).
The flaw in my plan was this: She didn’t miss me. Not even a little bit.
Success. Sallying forth to her soon-to-be classmates, she was more confident than I am on my best day. I stood, dumbfounded, as my “baby” spun on her heel and marched toward her new peers with nary a backward glance to me.
She quickly hooked up with a preschool pal and together the girls worked the crowd like they were running for office. Lunchboxes were compared, shiny new shoes playfully scuffed, and lunch dates quickly arranged.
It was rather like a particularly successful cocktail mixer for the kindergarten set.
Trust me, fellow moms learning to let go. If you think it painful to pry a sobbing child from your leg, be assured that watching your child sail off without a backward glance is no picnic either.
Wait a minute. I was granted one small reprieve when a small voice I recognized as my own sweet baby called out “Mommy I need you!’
Now, finally, was my moment to shine! “Mama’s coming baby! I’m right here. Don’t be afraid.”
But, noooo. “Here!” she called – stopping me mid-stride – as shrugging off her sweater, she executed a smooth underhand toss and sent it sailing toward me before turning back to her new friends.
I stood there, entirely alone and utterly stood up. It is so unattractive when the 35- year-old is the first in a crowd of 5-year-olds to cry.
Retired. Moments later, the teacher mobilized the troops and my daughter marched into the building.
Meanwhile, I trudged into the future: a mother without a mission. I didn’t have the girl, the gold watch, or anything to do for the next six hours.
My daughter, when I last saw her, was still working the crowd. Please, vote for her come November.
I might have a shot at campaign manager or something. At the very least, I could make a career out of standing around holding the sweater.
(Kymberly Foster Seabolt is available weekdays to hold your sweater, or whatever. She welcomes comments c/o firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460.)
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