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Lunchlady 2

Lunchlady 2
March 05
I am now a widow, having laid my last kiss on my husbands brow after he died to say goodbye. Since then I have found an old note he wrote me apologizing for his meanness laying on my floor and two gold coins under my blankets, his way of saying he was sorry and goodbye. I have buried my ex husband, my baby son, my grown son, my mom and now my husband and I wish to bury no more, but life does not work that way. I have birthed 3 children and have 3 more wonderful children from my last marriage. I have 4 living children and a granddaughter I adore and I am in the process of finding me. I have no idea who I am but I have discovered I am loved and I never knew that before and it makes me smile...


JULY 18, 2010 3:18PM

I Finally Accomplished It...Why Aren't I Happy?

Rate: 79 Flag

After 10 years as an official "manager" I have ended the school year in the black. Yes being in the black is what we all hope for although I have no idea why it is called that.

I stayed within my budget. Amazingly I stayed within my budget while still serving free fruit and a full salad bar. I offered more whole grains than ever, changed to brown rice and only healthy snacks.

I have taken a budget that was $60,000 over budget my first year. $40,000 my second and on downward until this year when I had money leftover!

There was no money in the school budget for confetti and balloons when they told me so with the super and budget director standing there I closed my eyes tight and told them it was all good, I could picture it in my head. They laughed...

I have been struggling with this for years. I have been threatened with being replaced, I have been given hard eyes by teachers as I take money from their budgets. I have taught myself how to place bids with companies. I have researched what healthy snacks children will buy. I have brought in product that sounded good then had to convince children it was. I have been doing everything in my power to make this job work, without one clue besides my ability to learn, to read, to try and fail at my side as I did it.

I was sitting here this morning and wondering why I am not doing the happy dance.

And it hit me.....

The one person on earth who would have been so terribly happy for me, who would have sat and talked with me about what a great job I have done starting from nothing, is gone.

My mom and I had work in common, that and 5 children, but we talked work and asshole bosses and struggling. She would have been so proud of me, so proud. I realized this morning just how very much I miss her.

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I love what you accomplished and how you share it here. Please allow yourself to feel proud, it is imperative you do that! And still have a little melancholy for your Mom not being there to share in the physical sense. But you know, she really IS sharing it...I know you know :) (r)
It isn't the end state -- it is the process. Sounds like you have had quite a challenge and succeeded. Which is maybe not going to give you a feeling of elation but a more sustained sense of accomplishment.

Sounds like you are making you community a better place by your job performance -- the kids are eating better and the entire process is being effectively managed.


I'm with Bern: She knows.
You've done alot more for those kids than they will ever know. I'm honored to read you Lunchlady.
Whenever I get to the end of something that I've worked a long time for I feel such emptiness. I wonder if it's a common phenomenon?
This is exactly the hardest part of a loved one dying....especially Mom.
Hang in there....
Sounds like you fought a long hard fight against a lot of opposition and with nobody on your side - and that's exhausting - but once it all sinks in, I hope you stand up straight and crow!
Aw, I'm sorry you're missing your mom. How could you not though?? Talk to her in your heart. Imagine the conversation. Imagine what she'd say to you. Love her.
I, for one, would not want your job! It sounds like you've done an incredible job at the school. Be very proud of yourself and know that we're proud of YOU!!
dirndl skirt, I hope she is. My girls at work are happier than I am....I will do my best to feel proud I finally succeded
Bernadine, I want to hope so, I just feel sad today..
Nick " a sustained sense of accomplishment" maybe so, maybe that's why I'm not jumping for joy...
Lady History, yes it was hard and frustrating and I thank you so much
Zinnia, I hope she does, I hope I see her in my dreams tonight so I know so..
hyblaean-Julie,Maybe, in part, that could explain some of how I am feeling. I worked SO hard to get here maybe I needed a goal? I still have lots to change at work, for the children. I do still have goals to meet.
Just Thinking, it just hit me so hard this morning....
Congratulations! SuperWoman does it again!
sixtycandles, it has been a long hard battle with so much pressure on me. I had some supporters but the end result is my mule-headed determination to not give up.
j lynne, thank you and yes maybe mom and I need to have a "talk". I know what she would have said!
mical, thank you so much
I think your mom knows that you have taken a challenge and done an incredible job. Wow!
Healthy food, stayed within budget, still working, but no Mom. Bummer, but she is watching and will never leave you. R-
I've sat here for 5 minutes trying to say something that didn't sound like a cliché. I am unsuccessful, so will let you know this touches me very much. msp
Your mom would be proud, Lunchlady. And I am. I wish you worked at my kid's school. They get a parade of reheated chicken nuggets and canned fruit. It sounds like you are making a fantastic silk purse out of the proverbial sow's ear, and good for you.
What an accomplishment! I hope sharing it with us makes you feel a wee bit better. Your mom would have been so proud. We're proud of you too.
R for support and a job well done.
This is great.. Maybe you can teach Jamie Oliver a thing or three.
rated with hugs
Caroline, I may have to buy that cape after all :)
sophieh, she would be proud! I know that..
dave, yes I do know how lucky I am, how I probably just saved my job...I know all that. But my mom wand I would have laughed and nodded about the struggle to get here :)
Kit, thank you very much..
Froggy, I am doing my best...I like that silk purse out of a sow's ear....I want a T-shirt!
Bellwether, actually yes I am feeling better about it. Maybe just sharing it with someone has helped...who would have thought?
Oryoki Bowl,Thank you so much!
Some things really make us hit the 'wish' button, don't they? I'm sorry you are missing your mom--but, as others have comemnted, YOU DID GREAT. I hope you will read these comments and then go out to your yard and make sure you tell your mom. She needs to hear it too!
you did good. she would have been proud. I'm proud, if that means anything.

I'm glad you posted this so we could pat you on the back. you know, you should write up your findings and publish them. or better yet, try to sell this program to some of the other states. CONSULT. you could be a success at it (imagine that!) (big smile here)
Linda, Jamie was surely a thorn in the side of lunchladies everywhere with his last show!
Mypsyche, I do need to talk to her tell her. that might help too..I haven't yet...It is time for that now..
Foolish monkey, ok that is just scary....but it does make me think....Thank you!
We are here to share it with you. congratulations {{{confetti & balloons}}} and I'm sure your Mom "knows".
What you do touches the future... super job, LL!
kateasley, thank you so much
Trilogy, thank you for the balloon's and confetti, loved it much...I am glad I have you all to share this with!
Catherine, thank you I try hard to take care of the children, point them in the right direction!
Mom does know and is with you...
I'm sure she is proud of you from where she is right now, and she helped guide you in making the right choices. BTW, in the black is an accounting term referring to the black ink used to denote a positive cash flow in the ledger as opposed to being in the red which is a negative cash flow. It is better to stay in the black; in the red makes you blue. R
Oh damn! Your legacy will be memorialized in the kids you saved from ill health. They will be successful and happy and you contributed to that! So proud of you!
Leonde, She is isn't she....I just seem to be missing her today..
Trudge, Thank you! I was always to embarrassed to ask why black and red. Your explanation says it all but makes me wonder how I ever got here from there :) I like that I know the difference now!
Your mom knows. And all those kids' moms who are having healthy food instead of junk, they know. And the school knows.

Do the happy dance, woman! What you've done is marvelous!
Awesome. As a high schoool principal and long-time educator I'll say it again. Awesome!

As for the letdown part - that's normal. As others have said it's the doing part that counts - and just think - now you can do it again! Oh sorry - it's that damned existential thing that keeps jumping in. And your caring for kids is very evident and I sure wish we had more lunchladies like you.
Well, I"M over her doing a happy dance! I know how hard it is to manage a budget and you are to be congratulated and thanked profusely by those children's parents for looking out for their best interests.

Sometimes the journey itself turns out to be more fulfilling than the actual destination does. And I agree that having someone to celebrate your victory with makes it all the better. I'm glad you decided to let us in on the celebration. CONGRATULATIONS, YOU MANAGER, YOU!!!!!!

Under adverse conditions, with no help from anyone, and despite flinty stares from teachers, you taught yourself, you researched, you advocated, you exerted every once of effort you could muster, and you prevailed. That is really, really impressive.
Figuring out how to have mom with you in your heart as you celebrate all life's milestones is a goal you can accomplish, LL.
There will be more moments like this...and I hope you take her along every step of the way.
Hey, our school district uses the same terms ("in the black") to talk about our lunch program, and I know from sitting through a gazillion school board meetings just how hard it is to keep a school lunch program out of the red.

I agree with Nick--we have to train ourselves to enjoy the process as much as the result. And I know what you mean about wanting to share this with your mom...but looks to me that a whole buncha people are proud of you and think you rock. Including me. Great job.
The time we spend after our parents are gone over the edge of the sky can be lonely LL.
But working so hard to come out ahead is a good thing.
I am always proud to see your posts here.
You have came a very long way in this world.
Glad to get to say I know some of the struggles.
Keep on slogging. You are one tough cookie dear....
She knows my friend. You have accomplished what a lot of people with more education than you could not, and you should be damn proud of yourself. I know I am!
Linnn, If I only acccomplished that it would make me happy!
Vanessa, thanks I will work on that happy dance...promise
Grif, I did not realize you were a high school I have to do it again :) I think there would be more lunchladies like me if they had some more support. All I have met truly care.
L, this budget stuff is much harder than it looks! Thank you much I am a manager aren't I..
Jerry, ok fine when you say it it sounds pretty freaking incredible! I did This is a must copy and place somewhere so I will remember!
JD, I will, I must, I'm pretty sure now that I have spoken my sadness out loud, that she is beside me clapping and laughing with joy. I do feel better!!!
go ahead and tell her. Find a good private place, close your eyes and see her laughing and smiling as you tell her. Catch that look of pride in her eyes. And then go ahead a laugh and cry outloud yourself. Who cares if anyone hears you. You have the right to celebrate.
Blessings and big smiles.
Fetlock, so you understand too. Maybe that is part of it. I have been working so hard to get here now what? Thank you for your kind comments.
Mission, I guess we really never think they will leave us. Thank you for being so kind..
Scanner, thank you, thank you! I did work hard for this and I should be proud! I will work on that, I need to work on that :)
aww, i just want t cry! and hug you! i am so proud of you, from a 60k deficit to in-the-black! woooooooooo hooooooooooooo!
Mimetalker, I know your right and that is exactly what I am going to do in a few minutes. I know she would be proud I got here from where we started. She is who taught me to never give up. She would be so happy for me...Thanks for being here..
dianaani, Thank you so much....I am smiling now! I had just lost it for awhile..
Congratulations on your dedication and accomplishment, Lunchlady, and condolences on not having your mom to help you celebrate. My guess is, tho, that she knew you well enuf to know that one day you would succeed and honor her memory. And you've done just that!
You know that your Mom is one of your guides. Some people don't believe things like that, but I do, and she is always by your side. R!
Well there is a whole community here on OS who is proud of you. Thanks for sharing this triumph. AND, it's proof that dedicated, professional public servants can make the system work efficiently and well.
Matt, I had not thought that I honored my mother by succeeding. I like that. I like that alot!
Christine, I also like that, my mom being my guide. Maybe she gave me the strength to keep going when I thought I couldn't...
You all are so wonderful to me!
Walter, I am so glad I shared it here, this community always amazes me, sometimes, like today, overwhelms me and somehow guides me to my "happy" place.
As hard as it is for me to say, to admit, I did a damn good job. I did my job as it was meant to be. I should be proud. Well there I said it and the roof hasn't fallen in.....yet :)
She would have been so proud! I am so proud of you. What an incredible achievement.
And, truly, what a good way to rearticulate your grief, through the lens of your own success, and how much she would have celebrated it - with joy and love.
No pain, no dementia, no tears - but laughter and joy and love.

And you deserve a gold medal, a raise and soon: a career as an advisor to other cafeteria managers. And a parade. Ok, the parade would probably annoy you.
Love to you, so much. xo Alison
Alison, all these posts and yours makes me laugh and cry at the same time. To think of mom whole and talking to her again. Her blue eyes would have sparkled and we would have laughed and talked about how hard work was and what an incredible job I had done. Then she would have told me I did good...
Pretty much no raise in site and your right parades aren't my thing. BUT the love from here makes up for those parts!!!
Thank you :)
I hope you know you're good.
My mom, who is with yours, told me to write this to you to say that your mom loves you and is incredibly proud of you. (Did I mention that my mom spent a few years being a lunch lady too?) Oh! They also just said that they cannot wait for us to join them!
Scupper, at my job yes I think I'm good. Could I be better always....BUT Yes I know I did good. It is just hard for me to say that.
The best part of it? You began a cycle of health for the kids wehn it would've been easier to go with the norm - junk.

I remember when I was in grammar school in the 50s. NO pre-processed foods at lunch. Virtually everythng was cooked on-site and was a balancec meal. It seems that would be far less expensive than all the pre-packaged crap the kids eat today.

Good job lady. Mom would be proud.
You are amazing, LL2. You are. You have such strength and passion for children. They are lucky to have you.

I will share a little, hoping that is ok. A similar thing happened to me recently. I had a really nice day, a good day, a not sad day. I didn't do anything all that special, but, still, I had a nice day. And then that evening, I realized that part of why it was such a nice day is because I was unconsciously, subconsciously, and stupidly, thinking all day how I would tell my loving person about it. That evening when I realized that I couldn't share it, that my dear person was gone forever... there went all the joy from the day. It just happens, I guess. It's grief.
Wow! Nutritious food, free fruit, and a balanced budget at the same time! I'm happy when I can do that for my family. Please be happy that you did this for so many!
mhold, I love that and you are so sweet to listen for me. Mom was always telling strangers in the store how I was a lunch lady how proud she was. It's good to hear from mom and very cool your mom was one too. Thank you
Boomer Bob, we are lucky in that we have a full kitchen. It helps SO much. Some schools would cook if they could, I think. Thank you so much!
WakingupSlowly, it is wonderful that you share. It has only been 7 months since mom passed and it has been crazy and busy. Maybe that is it, just having something so sought after and realizing the one person in the world who always had your back, the one you would share this with is gone. Yes grief I think your right...
Yep. I hear ya'. But we're all proud of you. Good job, wish there were more of you int he schools!
Geezerchick, I am happy I did it! I am just having an awful time processing it...Truth be told I feel so much better about it now. I joke at work it is like trying to run a huge household! WAY huge :)
Sweetfeet, thank you so much. All the cafeterias are changing just slowly. I have hope!!!
Oh, the 'Empty Nest' thing... I know it well. I have a feeling you'll do well. Sending love and light, E
She would have been so proud of me, so proud.

Yes she would have. I am too, hon. Big ass uber hugs.
As a Mom I thank you and send a hug . Everything you do pushes others that healthy can be done. As a business woman I shake your hand and look you in the eye for a job well done. As a woman I empathize and promise you she "knows"r.
you're remarkable and you have to know she's proud r.
mynameise, thank you, maybe so, I hadn't thought about that!
Safe_Bet's Amy, I love your hugs, thank you so much
hugs me,Your three thank you's are understood and so appreciated. I forget to think of myself as a business woman...I am aren't I?
Jonathon, The more I read here today the more remarkable I think I am and the more proud I feel my mom is. I like this feeling....even if it scares me.
You are a remarkable and beautiful woman, I am proud of you and grateful to read what you write. You are a champion.
l'Heure Bleue, And you are very kind, thank you..
Yes, you are and it sounds like a great one too.
You are an exceptional woman, my friend. You make the best of difficult situations, whether personal or business, and you have every reason to be very, very proud of yourself.

I can see that you hold your mum so very, very close in your heart so I know she will always be walking beside you.
hugs, me, :>)
Little Kate, thank you so much. I don't think I realized how much I missed mom until today...Now I need to find her a place to walk with me, beside me..
A little part of ourselves is lost along with our mothers, I think. You know that your Mom would be proud, but of course that's not the same, or enough, or even nearly comparable to the give-and-take of lives and accomplishments you shared with her. Nonetheless, you should feel proud of *yourself*. You worked hard. You made a difference. Your Mom clearly taught you well.

This I can do. . . from one mother to another, I am proud of you!
Dear Lunch Lady, you have lots of people to celebrate that news with, including me!! ~huge hug~ WOOOOOOOOOO!! Do a happy dance!!! You one cool lady!!!!!!

RATED!! And Tink Pick, if I can type my password!! :D
Great work LL2, and if it weren't for your mother this probably wouldn't have happened. She helped produce this tremendous drive to succeed, and what a noble goal, feeding children in as healthy a manner as possible. Thing is, the kids don't realize it but you're teaching them painless lessons that will serve their bodies well for the rest of their lives, you have a serious impact!

One caution: bureaucracies have an annoying habit of rewarding such achievements as this with new parameters that can be a negative. In other words, when you create a superior product and bring it in under budget they may soon ask you to to recreate this achievement on a LOT LESS MONEY. You could be penalized by this success so, a word to the wise, careful about how much money you save, could bite you and those kids right in the butt, or take those fresh fruits and salads right out of their mouths.
I'm proud of you.

Great piece.
Sometimes I miss my mom just like that or when I am down. I try to think of her as being inside me somewho so that she knows. Love does not die ifyou remember it.
I think if you will allow yourself to really, really accept ... deep within your heart and your soul ... the realisation and knowledge that your mum would have indeed been so very, very proud of you and your achievements, that you will have found that place for her to walk beside you, sweet lady.

I'm not trying to be funny at all with what I say now ... but I think I see her walking beside you. Can you see her? You just need to really KNOW that she is so very proud of you ... you, her wonderful, kind, caring and hard working daughter.
You are single handedly changing the world, one whole grain snack at a time. Your mom would be thrilled. You are after all, her girl.
Sharing things with your mother always seems to make it that much better. Mine died thirteen years ago and I still long for the chance to call her up, share my stories and hear her reactions. But hey, you have all of us and I know we're proud! (R)
Yaaay, you! You did great, your mom knows it, and so do we. Hugs!
I can't add much to what has already been said, except to say that you're the kind of kid every parent would be proud of.
My mom's been gone for nearly 17 years and I still have the urge to pick up the phone and talk at times.
"In the black" comes from old fashioned bookkeeping; expenses were written in red ink and income was in black ink. The balance was written in whichever color won out (or something like that). My mother was a bookkeeper, secretary, stenographer, and a lot of other things.
Dude . . . this is good news all the way around. Although Ablonde has a good point, right now, celebrate! Also, when you've sustained this for a couple of years, you should write a book about how you did it . . . and may as well start on it soon, while it's fresh!
TheRealMe, you are so sweet, thank you so much
Tink, you know I just LOVE you! Thanks
Ablonde, You have an excellent point. I have a meeting to sit and go over my entire budget where every penny went. By law they can't touch "my" money but yes they could offer me less to work with. I will be watchful. Thank you so much for the kudo's for the kids. If I make it fun they don't know they are eating healthy! Next is teaching them why I do it...
Zul, thanks!
o'stephanie, I think this was my first big thing without my mom...might be why it was so diffucult. I will start keeping her with me now!
Little Kate, I see where this is something I need to work on and yes I do know she is proud of me, her daughter, who was so much like herself. I will be working on this!
Tonya, I am aren't I, thanks :)
Kat, I guess we will always miss our mom, thank you so much..
Ladyslipper, Thanks sweety!
Rodney, well that black ink, redink, makes so much sense! I am starting to think we will always miss mom... Thank you for stopping by!
Owl, a book? You know maybe that's why I'm here? To learn to write better? It is a thought. Think anyone would read it?
Thank you I will celebrate, I promise!
Good Job! Be proud! I miss my mom too :( She passed 17 years ago and Im a mere 35 years old myself. When my business grew big, I succeeded in many ventures was there to pat me on the back except for greedy money friends.. Now that my business has is even lonelier. I would have loved most to be able to talk with my mom even my dad about it.. Hopefully they are looking at us and smiling. There with us. x
what a great way to end the year. i'm sure she knows and is clapping for you:)
That's a magnificent accomplishment. You done so well in a way that affects children positively. You done good sweetheart. And somewhere your mother knows.
Well, personally I've never thought death was any reason to end a good relationship. I talk to my dead parents a lot. You know what you did and you can tell your mom, knowing she'd be happy indeed, and I hope you do tell her. In the meantime, although I'm only an invisible digital voice I'd like to say: Pretty damn great, Lunchlady 2!
Will, I have done it myself not a problem....I hate when I do it..
librantiger,thank you so much for stopping by and yes I have had those money grubbing freinds. I got so sick of them. I think I know my mom would, is proud! Thank you
lemonpulp, I think when it's quiet I can hear her now :)
Scarlett,you are so sweet, thank you much for the kind words and yes I think now mom does know. I feel better...

Congratulations. And you and I both know she knows and is proud of you.
Writer to the Stars, you are right! I need to realize she is still with me. guess it is just so new to me I was lost for a short time. My first thought was I wanted to tell my mom. I could have, I have now. Thank you!
Token, thanks :)
Will, it was funny! Your comment has made me see a problem. Although the school board does like me what if NOW that I have done all the hard work, what if they think they could get someone in to just run what I have fixed, for cheaper....Well shit! I will be watching my ass!
I know it could never come close to the joy you'd realize celebrating your outstanding success with your mom, but for what it is worth I AM PROUD OF YOU!!! My husband is a teacher and for 28 years I've heard the stories about the veritable impossibility of accomplishing anything within the system. You are a marvel and a saint! Thank you and great job!
Your mother is singing a hymn for you in heaven.
Susan,Thank you for your kind words and support.
Will, it's ok I don't worry all that much about it anymore!
Sober middle-aged man, Thank you you are so sweet to say so.
Mark, I am totally overwhelmed by all the responses and completely flattered!
This was lovely. I speak as a woman who does not have a relationship with her still living mother. None at all. I'm also speaking as a woman who has raised three kids through public schools in the days of cafeteria chicken nuggets, pizza and unrecongnizable slop. The kids loved it and struggled through obesity later. They are all healthy eaters now by their own choices. I'm thankful for that for their sake and that they found their ways on their own. I wish, though that there had been a healthy lunch lady in their school day pasts, besides me. Thank you for all that you do. And about your bio...........what you will be doing when your children leave home is what you are doing now. Maybe it won't have the same clothes on then, but now, you are being you in a full and glorious way. It's what you'll be doing when they leave home, too.
Robin Robinson, thank you for stopping by and your thoughtful comments. I am sorry your mom and you no longer connect. That's sad to me..
We all need that one special person or persons who we can share our accomplishments with. Without them, it doesn't seem to matter as much. Thank you for reminding me to appreciate my parents, my sister and my friends whom I tend to take for granted at times.