The Launch.

Confession: while I am not wallowing in the slop called self-pity, I have dipped a toe or two in the last number of weeks.  I admit to some intermittent navel gazing and heavy sighing.  You see, I have just joined the legion of parents whose offspring has done flown the nest.  Number Young Son just moved out.

It’s been coming for a while now, so it’s no surprise, but it’s been hard for me to let go (also no surprise).  He’s smart and capable and has a direction he wants to go; it’s time to let him take the reins.  But still, as many, perhaps most or all, mothers can attest — it is nice to be needed.  Necessary, even.  So although I’m proud of him and happy for him, I’m also feeling sorry for myself that it came so soon.  Even though it didn’t.  My sister says I’m experiencing the early stages of the ‘launch’ syndrome.  I suppose that would be the opposite of the ‘failure to launch’ syndrome, right?

He and his best friend went out and applied for work together.  They snagged a couple of jobs at the same place.  They scouted around for a place to live near where they want to attend college; once they found it, they worked while waiting for it.  Now they’re moved in, living the life.

I’ve been remembering how it was when I moved out (ahem – thirty years ago); first I lived with my boyfriend’s sister, whose cat loathed me, and then I moved out alone.  For awhile I had a roommate and a view of the water, but mostly I liked having my own place.  I loved being the mistress of my domain.  I wanted to prove that I was capable of making good decisions and showing maturity.  I had a good job, and I had a good time; I stayed up too late and I spent too much money.  I hope NYS has the same great experiences.

Okay, enough of the reverie.

So, as any mother would, I shopped for things that I thought the apartment would need, that maybe the guys wouldn’t think of.  I’m sure they would have done fine; they had been given a great deal already.  Yes, I went a little crazy, but I was at the thrift store and the outlet store, so I got good deals.  I think I did it more for me than for them; it seemed therapeutic at the time.

Besides, while I was at the outlet store, I saw a large selection of orange cookware.  My niece is gaga over orange.  So I let her know, and she’s headed there this weekend.  I should get a commission!

Mr. Stuck is all for this change.  He’s more pragmatic than I.  He has been coaching me for years to relax and let go, and I’m just not very good at it.  Life with teenagers is all ups and downs and very confusing.  You don’t know from one day to the next whether your kid loves you or hates you; you realize you no longer speak the same language as the kid does; and you realize that the only thing that will help is opening the door, standing back and letting it happen.  The cycle of life continues.

Boy, is it tough.



photo credit mikebaird

My First Job

Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else. 

~James Matthew Barrie

my inauspicious introduction to working life

The reward for a job well done is the opportunity to do more.

~ me

First jobs.  We have all had one.  Growing up, they mark the end of our beloved, time-worn retort: “You’re not the boss of me!”   Because sometimes, actually, they are.

My first job (and by this, I mean a paid job that didn’t involve washing dishes, mowing the lawn or babysitting) was picking cherries for Gudmundson Orchards in Eastern Washington.  I don’t even know if they still exist.  But my next-older sister and I stayed with another sister over the summer when I was 13, and we picked cherries.  That was in the 70’s.

I remember the songs that were on the radio that summer, because we would get up at the crack of dawn, make our lunches and put coffee in the Thermos; and then we’d drive out to the orchard.  “Higher and Higher” by Rita Coolidge and Jimmy Buffett’s “Margaritaville” were in high rotation.  I remember those times fondly; it was rather an adventure for me, especially because I wasn’t being treated as the kid; I was a worker.  I was a wage earner.

We would climb the ladders and pick like mad, and we were paid by the bucket.  The orchards were filled with migrant workers, mostly Mexican families who worked hard beside us.  Even the children were busy working.  We saw one elderly gentleman, apparently the patriarch of his family, climb nimbly up the tree without benefit of a ladder.  He amazed us with his speed and agility.

At the end of the day, we would be very tired.  We’d take periodic breaks throughout our shifts, and we would break for lunch, but it was hard, constant work in the heat, and it wore us out.  I remember sleeping very well that summer.

One day, I went up a 13-foot ladder to finish filling my cherry bucket.  I didn’t need many more, but I couldn’t turn it in until it was full.  The orchard crew would come around with the tractor and trailer that held the huge bins that they would dump the cherries into.  I knew they were coming around, so I wanted to hurry.  I scrambled up the ladder and commenced to picking.

At some point, I overreached and lost my balance.  I fell to the ground and hit my head, cherries flying everywhere.  I vaguely remember the small children running over to scoop up my spilled fruit and take it back to their families.  Someone called the tractor crew and they came over and splashed my face with alcohol, the cold and fumes of which woke me right up.  My eyes stung from the alcohol.  I was sore, and I had scraped my leg, but I was fine.  But my bucket was empty.

That was the end of my cherry-picking career.  I got a paycheck, and I believe I may still have the check stub, but I didn’t pick any more after my fall.  They wouldn’t let me. Still, it was a great summer and remains a delightful memory.

What was your first job?  Do you have a particular anecdote or memory of those days?  I remember being so proud of that paycheck with my very own name on it!  A first job teaches us so much more than whatever it is that we are hired to do.  It is our first step into adulthood.

photo credit: williac