Mom’s Voice: Taking the Baby to Work

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jill photoLast Saturday, Payton started his new job at Z Pizza. While he may know more about how to operate a cellular phone than me, nothing humbles a teenager like learning the ropes of a new job. Besides, there’s no app for folding pizza boxes.  Every teen should spend a little more time on the other side of a cash register, taking orders and making money rather than taking money and making orders.

When it was time to get ready, Payton asked, “Mom, where’s my work shirt?”

“I hung it in the closet so it wouldn’t get wrinkly.”

A few days before, Payton left the shirt that his new boss gave him to wear in the car. An adorable shirt that said “Olive you” on the front and Z Pizza on the back, I think I was more excited about it than him. I saved the shirt from falling to the car floor, a scary and hazardous place where certain pillaging by sibling’s feet, crumbs, and dog hair would leave Payton with some explaining to do.

After looking everywhere for his shoes, he remembered they were in my husband’s car where he left them the day before. Unfortunately, Matt was at the gym and wasn’t answering his phone. We drove to the gym parking lot and retrieved his shoes out of dad’s car. Again, I saved Payton from his first write up and violation of the Occupational Health and Safety laws.

Next stop, with shirt and  shoes donned: Z Pizza. We parked, stopped for a quick “first day of work” picture out front, and walked in together.

Near the end of the counter, Valerie, Payton’s manager, came out to greet us. The three of us said hello. “Is there anything he needs?” I asked (besides his shirt and shoes, I thought).

“No… he’s on his own” she chuckled.

And then it hit me. Mommy was walking her man size baby into work. How ridiculous.

Of course, there was no permission slip to turn in, cupcake sign-up sheet, or need for a team mom. He filled out an application, had an interview, and was hired. This is his job.

And with it, another apron string cut.

We have work to do at home too. Hanging his shirt and keeping track of his shoes is also his job. I need  to rescue less and relinquish more. Payton needs to learn on his own two bare feet–no shirt, no shoes, no paycheck.

Letting go is a difficult part of my job. Olive being a mom.

Jill Fales is the mother of four and author of “My Laundry Museum & Other Messy Gifts of Motherhood.” Visit her at


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