Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Pick-Up Line

I had done it -I had put on my brave mommy face and taken the little man to his first day of Kindergarten.

I had even managed to hold back the tears until I left the building.

I had faced my fears.

Well ... at least one of them.

I had sent my baby bird off into the big world - but an equally terrifying moment was still approaching.

The after school pick-up line.

August has been a month of change for lots of reasons - not only did the little man start Kindergarten, but mommy also began a new part-time work schedule. I have shared in bits and pieces here and there on this blog about my struggle as a working mom. I love my son and want to be involved in all parts of his life growing up, but I also love what I do for a living. And, at times, those two pieces were very difficult to balance.

My husband and I had thought about it for many, many months. One one hand, if I cut back on hours at work it would give me the ability to pick him up everyday after school (no more daycare) and obviously leave me more time for the little man.

And soccer practice.

And swim lessons.

And everything else.

However, on the other hand, not only would my paycheck suffer significant consequences, so would my career. It would mean not being the project manager of the next big project.

Or not being invited to be a part of the project at all.

But in the end, no one will remember that great marketing piece I wrote. Or the great brochure I designed.

But the little man will remember how his mommy was at every one of his soccer practices.

And swim lessons.

And everything else.

So, I put in my request with the powers that be at my job. And they said yes.

And on August 1st, I officially began my new little man-inspired work schedule, just in time for school to start.

On the little man's first day of school I knew the pick-up line would be formidable. We had been forewarned by the school principal that they were very particular about the process - and needed to be for the safety of the children. They had even supplied written instructions and a traffic flow map of where you were supposed to drive, park, etc.

As little man's first day of school came to an end, my anxiety about the pick-up line began to grow. But, with my new reduced work schedule, I would leave work at 3:00, giving me ample time to pick up the little man, who would get out of class at 3:40.

I was so anxious to see the little man and hear about his day that I decided not to stop at home for a brief moment to change out of my work clothes. I also wanted to be extra early to tackle the infamous pick-up line.

I arrived at 3:17 on the dot - plenty of time, yes?


The line was already out to the street.

As I waited in the line, my anxiety grew even more. How long would this take? Would the little man be scared to not see me there right away? How would he know to come to my car? Did he even know to look for my car?

And the fear began to grow.

Am I even doing this right? Should I just park a block away and walk up to get him?

Then I stopped myself. I had survived corporate America. As a writer and graphic designer, I had faced entire rooms of people who were there for no other reason than to criticize my work and stare me down.

If I could handle corporate America, I could handle a bunch of moms in a pick-up line.

At least that's what I told myself.

As the line inched forward I finally came to park in the infamous "front circle." The little man waved hello to me, but stayed where he was.

So, I broke the rules.

I got out of my car and went to the little man, scooping him up and carrying him to my car. I wasn't supposed to leave my car (for safety and traffic flow reasons) and I was supposed to wait for the little man, or one of the teachers assisting in the pick-up, to come to my car.

But it was the first day - I could get away with it, yes?


Later that night we received an all-school email reminding parents to NOT get out of their cars and reminding us of the rules and procedures of the pick-up line.

I shut the laptop and smiled.

I may not have come out of it unscathed, but I had survived.

And upstairs I had a very sleepy, but happy, Kindergartner.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Happy Kindergarten Day!

On August 17, 1978, my mother welcomed me into the world. In what I know was a day full of emotions and thoughts about the future ahead, I doubt my mother ever envisioned that on that very same day, 33 years from then, that her baby would be sending her baby off to Kindergarten.

But that's how it went - in what seemed like a cruel twist of scheduling, I sent the little man off to Kindergarten on my birthday.

It was day I had known was coming well in advance and we had spent the summer preparing. The school supplies were bought; the little man had carefully selected his new Transformers backpack and Star Wars lunch box; and mommy had been reminding herself that "It's not until the end of summer, that's still a long ways away."

Funny how time creeps up on you.

And summer flies by.

My husband had been preparing the little man for mommy, as well.

"Mommy's probably going to cry," he warned the little man on the eve of his Kindergarten start. "But they are happy tears, because she's so happy and proud of you for starting Kindergarten."

(Or, it's because mommy had visions of kicking her baby bird out of the nest into the great big world.)

So, in the morning, I put on my brave mommy face and started to get ready for the day. The little man popped out of bed and came into my room.

I picked him up and hugged him.

Then made him waffles covered in syrup for breakfast.

Then proceeded in what I'm sure seemed like an endless photo shoot to the little man.

And then the moment came - it was time to load up the car and make the very short drive to the school.

(And another photo shoot in front of the school, of course.)

I took the little man's hand and walked him inside.

My brave mommy face lasted until it was time to tell him good-bye.

The little man smiled and gave me one last hug and walked away.

My baby bird was officially out of the nest and spreading his wings.

And mommy was ever-so-thankful for waterproof mascara.