In the beginning, it was subtle, delicate. “Sweetie, dadda isn’t going to be working here very much longer?”
“Why not?” she would ask.
“Well, I’m just not.”
Kids are amazingly resilient. The first time or two I told her this while we were in my office, I would get emotional and she would come and wrap her little arms around me in comfort. After that I pulled myself together and subsequently would discuss my departure from the newspaper, she asked me what any 3-year-old would naturally want to know:
“Where you gonna work now?”
“Well sweetie, I don’t know just yet. But I will soon.”
Addy seemed to accept that concept, mostly. Of course, her chief concern was will my new office, in whatever form that was going to take, be accommodating to her.
“Can I come with you?”
“Of course you can, sweetie.”
As my transition away from the newspapers in Lee’s Summit and Cass County became more and more real, Addy began discussing the topic in quite open forums, informing people on the street that would stop to talk to us on our walks that “my dadda isn’t going to work at the newspaper.”
I just had to chuckle. I mean, honestly, she was right.
During one stretch of a week or so, Addy would point to just about every building we would pass on foot or in the car and ask if I was going to work there.
The wedding event space, the ice cream store, numerous strip malls and insurance offices…even empty buildings. In the mind of a young daughter, I suppose, her dadda can do anything. I am not sure if she is right, but I would sure like to try.
What has hurt me most in the last few weeks is the sense that I have lost something with Addy as it relates to my work. I know that’s ridiculous. But I couldn’t shake it for the longest time. I am not sure I still haven’t completely let it go. My work was my identity for a long time. Decades, in fact.
We have this finite amount of time where our kiddos think we are heroes. That what we do is “cool” and that, if we are at all proud of our professions and feel like we are doing worthwhile work, that the pride shows in our every day lives and funnels down as an example of work ethic.
I know that Addy will be proud of me regardless of the office I sit in. And these days, that office is the kitchen table with my new laptop that has a pink cover (she picked it out) surrounded by paperwork, empty water bottles and salt-and-pepper shaker from Beale Street.
She isn’t soured. And I’m not either.
As our walks still take us by the newspaper office, she delicately points out that, “dadda, you…you used to work there.”
“I did sweetie.”
“And now you’re gonna work somewhere else…” she informs me, grabbing a book to read and her Cheerios close at hand.
Wherever my next office happens to be, I know she will feel at home there.