“School mom” leaves a hole in our lives

“School mom” leaves a hole in our lives

Sending our children off to school can sometimes be a scary, if not uneasy, feeling.

Random, and sometimes terrifying thoughts jumble my mind as I watch the twins board the bus every morning.

*Did they grab their lunches?

*Why was George so sad this morning?

*How is KK doing in class?

*Are they both eating all of their lunch, or did I make another non-eaten lunch this morning?

When I can sense that something isn’t right in the morning, all it takes is me sending a quick text or making a phone call to Mrs. Minney, aka “School Mom.”

“George had tears in his eyes before school today. Can you check on him today?”

“George said he is shaking at school … can you see if he is eating all of his lunch?

“KK was worried about her brother being home sick. Can you please tell her he is OK and will be in school tomorrow?”

These are the conversations that are uploaded into my phone and sent through phone-space to the person who is another “constant” in their lives – Mrs. Minney.

I still don’t technically know her “real” work title at the elementary school – para-professional? Aide? To me, she is simply “School Mom.” She is crazy, awesome and loving rolled into one person.

For all of those times when I am not there to make sure they eat their sandwich; to offer support and a small “You did GREAT;” or to see if they are really sick, I know she is there.

Her heart is worn on her sleeve (much like the snowflake tattoo that reminds her of her father). Even if she is having a bad day, she never has shown any ill-will toward students.

Under her watchful, yet loving motherly eye, she makes sure the students behave in the cafeteria, hallways and classrooms.

She doesn’t raise her voice, but is firm with those students who do not listen.

She doesn’t judge. She adores every single student who walks through the elementary doors.

The beauty of Mrs. Minney is that she isn’t just looking out for the well-being of my kiddos. No, she looks out for every single student and person in the district. There isn’t a staff member, teacher, administrator or custodian she hasn’t touched with her heart.

And today, Mrs. Minney walked through the doors as a para-professional-aide-school-mom one last time.

She is leaving her home-away-from home after accepting a job at title company.

Sure, she will still make an appearance here and there at the schools – after all, her two daughters are still students (she can’t get rid of us that easily).

But that leaves a hole in my life; and in my children’s lives.

Mrs. Minney has left the building.

I am now left with the uneasy, scary feeling of who will be there for my kiddos (outside of their teachers). Who is going to be my person now? Who is going to let me know my kids are OK? And most importantly, who is going to fill her shoes of “School Mom” when I cannot be there?





Letting go … it’s time

Letting go … it’s time

Stepping out of the van, I felt my pulse. My heart was pounding. The shot of tequila I “borrowed” from my parent’s liquor cabinet did nothing to calm my nerves.

Behind two swinging doors stood my past – bandies, nerds, cheerleaders, athletes, the “cool” kids and everyone in between. (It wasn’t until after the reunion that I realized we all share the most important titles — moms/dads, aunts and uncles.)

Saying a quick prayer to the Reunion Gods, I slowly opened the doors and surveyed the room.

A man sitting at the bar turned around and hugged me.

“It’s good to see you,” he said to me.

“Who are you?” were the only words that popped out of my mouth. (It was at this point that I became terrified that I may not recognize anyone from my class)

“I’m Eric, friends with your brother! How is Zac?” he said.

Whew … so not only did I not know the guy, turns out he didn’t even graduate with me in 1996.

At least I wasn’t going crazy.

But the hug from the then “stranger” seemed to break the ice.

I thought to myself, “Well, I didn’t know him, and that turned out OK, the rest of this weekend should be a piece of a cake.”

And it was – thanks to my once shy husband who was up for anything. Maybe it was because he didn’t go to his 20 year class reunion, so he was living vicariously through me? Either way, by the end of the first night, he was playing flip-cup with 10 other people while I sat on the front porch talking to other classmates.

Over the course of two days about 10 percent of 200 classmates came together to reminisce about our “glory days” 20 years ago. I wished more people had the courage to show up.

We walked through our old high school one last time before bulldozers plan on tearing it down brick by brick.

For one last time, I sat inside the study hall where I wrote notes to boys I wanted to date. For one last time, I walked past the lockers that stored actual books. For one last time, I stood inside the gymnasium where I danced at prom with Seth.

After touring the high school, the trips down memory lane continued at a classmate’s home until 12:15 a.m. (Kudos to her for opening her home to all of us for the mixer … it was the best part of the entire trip back home.)

And not one person cared about the past.

For the first time in 20 years, no one felt like they had to prove anything to anyone else.

My one newfound friend said it best. She said, “Melissa, we all have a backpack.”

She’s right. Each and every one of us has stuff from our past that made us the people we are today. It may be good, bad and in between, but it’s ours.

Maybe she’s been right all along, only I never gave her the chance 20 years ago to get close to me. Maybe instead of putting myself out there, I closed myself off – afraid that if I showed the “real” Melissa no one would have liked me.

I can’t change who I was in 1996 – no one can – but we all can move forward and continue to be the best versions of ourselves.






Class reunion – a time to celebrate

The anticipation was killing me.

I had waited 13 years for this moment.

And it was finally here.

Muggy, humid, misty weather and all.

I stood in front of the mirror of my vanity in the room that I claimed “mine” nearly seven years earlier.

In front of me – the girl with shoulder length hair was gone. Gone was the girl who hadn’t hit puberty yet. Gone was the girl who wasn’t sure of her future.

Instead, a young woman stood there looking back at me. She had (bad) short hair and wire-rimmed glasses. Around her, she wore a navy blue robe and with a yellow cord. And in less than three months, she would be a freshman at Bowling Green State University majoring in criminal justice (Yes, that clearly did not happen).

As she carefully placed her cap on her hat, she prayed to the Hair God to let her hair look decent for the next three hours. But in the end, the weather made her head look like a wet mop.

But she didn’t care.

All the persistence and dedication paid off …


And next weekend is my 20th class reunion.

It’s no secret that in the spring I was slightly dreading this moment.

Did I really want to see the person who sat next to me in English?

Did I really want to hear old stories of “glory days?”

Did I really care what everyone is doing now as we approach our 40s?

Does it even matter?

The truth is … Yes.

No one had a perfect life in high school. And no one has a perfect life now.

Yet we all come from different walks of life. And that is what makes 20 years a perfect time to reflect.

Some people have said they want to forget their past and that attending a reunion just rehashes nasty memories of their childhood.

Some people have said that they didn’t form any bonds with those in high school at the time, so why should they attempt form bonds with these people now.

And that was me.

I was that girl.

My goodness, my dad was a junior high math teacher. There were days I wanted to find a new family because I was forever, “Mr. Naymik’s DAUGHTER.” I am pretty sure that identifier alone scared away 180 of the 200 classmates from 1996.

But now that we are T-minus 8 days away from the reunion, I am looking forward to it.

We owe it to ourselves to see how far we have come in the past 20 years.

It’s time to let bygones simply be that – bygones.

And I know it’s hard to do – trust me, I know.

But just last Friday, I saw hundreds of balloons being released for a 48-year-old Ohio State Trooper who was killed in the line of duty in Cuyahoga County. He was three days away from retirement. Today, hundreds of law enforcement vehicles lined a local road in his honor.

What Trooper Velez would have given for one more day …

One more day to keep our roads and cities safe.

One more day to spend with his children.

One more day to hang out with his friends at a local sports pub watching the Browns (lose).

One more day.

The people we were 20 years ago are gone.

And one day, we too will be wishing we had … one more day.


Melissa Linebrink is an award-winning blogger. Read her blog at http://parenthoodthenewcrazytrain.com. Follow her on Twitter @train_crazy or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ParenthoodthenewCrazyTrain/