Baumgartner Vaughan: Keeping the wave going

Apr. 12, 2014 @ 04:00 PM

After I wrote about my son’s first day of kindergarten last fall, I heard from a reader about her own child’s first day of school. After her daughter got on the Durham school bus, the mom got in her car and followed the bus to school before returning home. It was a mom thing to do.

I love the sitcom “The Goldbergs” first, because it’s hilarious. I identify with being an ’80s kid, too. But the best part is the mom who goes lovingly overboard as her kids grow up.
Recently, I signed my son in at school after a doctor appointment, and he took his hall pass and headed off to class. I watched him walk away until he turned a corner. He didn’t look back. That’s fine, he should be happy to go to his class. But for me, it was one of many moments to come when my son goes down his own path. At least he waves goodbye in the morning.
My husband drops our son off at school on his way to work, then I get ready and go to work. As they leave the house, my boy turns and waves before getting in the car. Now we all wave at the door when someone leaves the house. It’s nice to be waved off. It’s a tradition that’s held on one side of my mother’s family, at the Smiley (her maiden name) house in Roanoke, Va. The Smileys stood on the porch and waved as we drove away every time we came to visit, whether we lived near or far. I loved it. It was the Smiley Sendoff.
The leader and Smiley matriarch, Mary Linda, was my final grandparent to die. I was at work here in The Herald-Sun newsroom when I got the call that she had passed away. I called her by her first name because that’s what my mom called her, as Mary Linda was technically her stepmother. Mary Linda wore her white gray hair on top of her head, turtlenecks, long beaded necklaces, red lipstick and decorative scarves long before they came into contemporary fashion. And she waved from the porch, from her spry days to the days she leaned on a walker.
It’s still a month until Mother’s Day, but I think it’s time we started a wave of waves. Wave to your mom when you say goodbye. Get off the couch and go to the front door and send her off with a wave. Start now – don’t wait until Mother’s Day. Waving is such a little physical gesture but a bigger emotional gesture. The best part of the Smiley Sendoff was that they didn’t wave and close the door, they came outside. And they didn’t wave until you got in the car, they waved until you drove off. Wave like you mean it.
Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan may be reached at or 919-419-6563. Follow on Twitter: @dawnbvaughan.