Thursday, January 18, 2018
The following appears in the January edition of Chicago Parent:
After taking a part-time job over a year ago to subsidize high school, future college funds and a possible tummy tuck, I was nervous about my kids’ functionality. Would they be able to get themselves up and dressed for school? Would they remember which days to wear uniforms for gym and which days to bring instruments for band? Had I done so much for them over the years, that they would fail miserably at this big inaugural test of responsibility?
At first, my fears proved correct. There were forgotten Chromebooks, gym days, and homework. Field trip days went without bagged lunches and help-the-poor days went without canned donations from the Walshes.
I had obviously failed once again.
Slowly but surely, my knuckleheads did pull it together. Dan began laying out all needed items of clothing and equipment the night before. Jack and Joey took to taping notes above their beds with reminders:
How anyone could “forget” to eat a meal remains a complete mystery, but whatever. They were figuring things out! They were growing up! They hardly needed me. Woot woot! Then it started to sting.
They were figuring things out. They were growing up. They hardly needed me.
My babies weren’t babies anymore.
This realization hit me squarely in the gut. I had invested the last 13 years of my life in a job that I knew would eventually be phased out. I wasn’t prepared for this first reduction in responsibility. I had already placed myself in a nursing home without visitors as part of a mental downward spiral of uselessness.
One morning, I got up early on a non-work day to see the boys off.
Joey had both pant legs firmly tucked into his socks. Jack had packed four Little Debbies and a can of my Red Bull “for lunch.” Nobody had brushed their teeth. Or combed their hair. Or thought winter coats necessary in 12 degree weather.
I pretended to be angry, yelling and screaming and waving my arms while quoting Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Self Reliance.”
I knew I had a few good years left at the firm.
Which is a very good thing because I seriously love my bosses.