There's a Fine Line Between Waitress and Mom

An actual closing shift in my younger days. Photo courtesy of the best server I've ever met, Alyce Kalmar

An actual closing shift in my younger days. Photo courtesy of the best server I've ever met, Alyce Kalmar

Working in the restaurant industry, you quickly find out that the closing shifts are both the best and the worst. They're amazing because you get to sleep in late, are on the most lucrative shift, and service usually goes quickly because you're busy. They're the worst because, at the end of service, after you've already done so much work, you're faced with a seemingly endless list of closing duties that have to be completed before you can leave. You try to think of different ways to tackle it so it's done faster, but it always ends up being an hours worth of work no matter which way you approach it. If you half ass it, you're going to get hell the next day from the manager. So you trudge on and roll setups (you know, the forks and knives that go inside the napkins. Those don't set themselves up!) all while you weep.

Being a parent is much like working the closing shift at a very demanding restaurant. Not just that, every night is the closing shift where the last customer shows up a minute before closing, takes a luxurious amount of time to eat, and doesn't tip. To make matters worse, once you work the closing shift as a parent, you have to do a quick turnaround and work the opening shift the next day. Forever.

The task list looks something like this:

1. Feed the Kids- This one is brutal because nine times out ten, your kid patrons hate everything you serve and will often leave the worst Yelp reviews. For some reason, though, they keep coming back night after night. 

2, Bond with Your Kids- This is much like the part of the restaurant closing shift where everyone has poured themselves a beer or a glass of wine and casually wipes down the tables while they talk and laugh. As a parent, you play basketball or paint with your kids and all is well.

3. Bathe Your Kids- This is much like washing the piles of leftover dishes accumulatedfrom the last customers who took forever to leave, so the dishwasher has already left for the night. As a parent, you're still enjoying your kids, but there's the feeling that there's so much left to do, so it's time to get things moving along a little faster.

4. Brush Your Kids' Teeth- This is much like having to sweep and mop the floors (after pulling out the grimy, foul smelling mats from the kitchen). As a parent, the kids are dragging their feet to the bathroom, getting sidetracked, and spitting toothpaste absolutely everywhere.

5. Read to Your Kids- The nights coming to a close and you're counting your tips. You're feeling like it's all worth it as you stack up $20 after $20. As a parent, the kids are resting their heads on your shoulders while you read them their library books. Everything is calm and it's rewarding.

6. Get Your Kids to Stay in Bed- You've counted your tips and breathed your sigh of relief. You're about to shut off the lights and lockup when you notice the mountain of silverware that needs to be rolled. You yell in frustration and sit down and start rolling. As a parent, the kids are in their beds and you're about to walk out of their room, get a slice of cake, and sit down on the couch to scroll mindlessly through social media. That's when the countless requests come up. You may have asked them twenty times if they needed to pee before bed (each time they answered "no"), but all of a sudden they urgently need to go to the bathroom. Then they need water. Then a "high five." Then they need to be tucked in, again. Then they need you to take a certain doll out of their room because it's scaring them. Then, the siblings need to get in a fight with one another because the older one is belting out show tunes from her spot on the top bunk. Then they need to say "you're no longer my friend because you won't find the firetruck." Then you need to tell them "that's fine, we don't need to be friends. I'm not going to tear apart your room looking for that tiny truck no matter how long you yell for it." Then you have to tear the room apart looking for that firetruck because you can't take the yelling anymore. 

An hour later, you're on the couch with that piece of cake that doesn't taste as good as you thought it would and you're too tired to even scroll through Facebook. 

And much like working as a waitress, you wake up in the middle of the night in a panic that you forgot to lock the door. The only perk is that when the door is in your own home, you only have to walk a few steps to check. As a waitress, though, you gotta sweat the whole night, waiting for that call from the manager the next morning to tell you that the place had been torn apart and there was no sign of forced entry.