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A lick and a tear

TEARS were not for me when my first child bravely set out for kindergarten. I was thrilled to see that independent young lady marching forth to face the world. First day at first grade produced a surge of pride while less sturdy friends of mine wiped away a furtive tear. When the second daughter started off, I felt an even greater thrill of arrogance. I was not going to be one of those sob sisters who bemoan the passage of baby-hood.

When each stage of leaving home brought me no regrets, I felt only a sense of achievement that we had come this far. We looked forward eagerly to each new step.

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When the girls became college age, each started out in her own way, a little apprehensive but still confident she could manage, if not all challenges, at least a good portion of them.

Shortly after daughter No. 2 became a freshman at the state university, I bestirred myself to make one of those luscious three-layer chocolate cakes. Happily I creamed butter, added sugar, and beat egg whites to fold in, picturing my husband's pleased surprise.

I poured thick, creamy batter into layer cake pans, slid the pans into the oven, set the timer, and began to clean the kitchen counter. As I flipped the beaters out of the mixer and stared at them, an idea hit me with the full force of a tornado. There was no one to lick the beaters! Always I had left them for whomever got home first. But now there was no one coming home.

I burst into tears and was still sniveling mightily when my husband came in from work. Fearfully he demanded to know the reason for this deluge of tears.

My answer, ``There's no one to lick the beaters,'' sent him into such laughter that it was three days before I forgave him.

I know now that reality comes home to us in many forms. I still grow misty eyed when I remove those darn beaters.