That Preschool Drop-off Drama

Dee Jay Mailer: changing jobs Kamehameha Schools photo

Editor’s note: MidWeek is happy to introduce our newest columnist, Tannya Joaquin, though she really needs no introduction. The Hawaii News Now anchor, who also is the mother of children ages 4 and 1, will focus primarily on young families – issues that concern them and activities they can enjoy.

We have a morning drill in my house. It’s the race to get my son and daughter up, dressed, out the door and in the car before 7:45 to make it to preschool in time for breakfast. Really, how hard could that be? In my job as news anchor at Hawaii News Now, I meet every deadline no matter how difficult the assignment. But my school breakfast batting average? Well, let’s just say I’m striking out more often than not.

I underestimated the challenges of dropping off my children in the morning and saying bye. I have two months under my belt on “drop-off duty,” and it’s not getting any easier.

You see, for two years while I anchored Sunrise, Daddy did the drop-offs and I did the pickups. Oh, how I looked forward to them spotting Mommy and running with arms extended for huge bear hugs. Now, I dread the drop-offs and the inevitable tears and pleas to stay. School and structure are good for them, you tell yourself, as you resist taking another look back. Don’t prolong the goodbyes, you’re warned.

Easier said than done. There’s no formula for the modern family on how best to navigate this balancing act between career and family. For me, it’s a work in progress. I had an “aha” moment, as Oprah calls it, while at work after another difficult drop-off. It was during an interview with Kamehameha Schools CEO Dee Jay Mailer, one of the honorees for the YWCA Leader Luncheon coming up June 19. This event honors distinguished women in our community who seem to have it all figured out. As emcee for five years now, I always take mental notes from these amazing women on their secrets to success and balance.

Turns out there’s no real secret. I asked Mailer why she’s retiring next year, and she said it’s time to make it up to her family for all those missed “Mommy moments.” Sure, her daughters are all grown up in their 30s now, but they remind their mom about the times she couldn’t be there because of her demanding career.

They don’t begrudge her. In fact, they’re now faced with similar decisions as they carve out their own career paths in Idaho. One of them has a 4-year-old daughter, and Mailer doesn’t want to miss out on being “Nana.” The poised CEO gets downright giddy showing off a new video of her precocious granddaughter hamming it up for the camera.

Mailer looks forward to trading in her CEO title for pick-up duty.

Yes, that’s her next gig, picking up her granddaughter from preschool in Idaho.

I don’t recommend doing the drop-offs.