Eight weeks. The number eight rattles in my brain as my nanny tells
me she’s going need to take eight weeks off to deal with a medical problem that requires surgery and a lengthy recovery. I’m thrilled that she’s going to be
able to take care of herself and feel better. She’s been with us for three
years. We basically have to force her to take so much as a sick day. But eight weeks is a long time without any help, especially for a working mom.
I go through all the classic stages of having no help with
the kids. First, I panic. My heart races and I wonder how the hell I’m going to
work full-time and get my two kids where they need to go and when. The little
one is only in school until 12. She comes home and takes a nap. As long as she goes to sleep on time and
wakes up by 2:15, we can pick her brother up at school, I think to
myself. Or he can take the bus and we’ll pick him up at 4.
World leaders have less complicated schedules than a
kindergartner and a toddler. I get stumped when I realize there are some days
my big one needs to be at swimming or karate before his bus arrives. I don’t
want my little one to miss her nap or be forced to sleep in the car. But short
of cutting myself in half so I can be in two places at once, I’m not quite sure
what to do.
This is when the depression sets in. Truth be told, I’m not
sure I can physically get my kids to all the places they need to go, naps
included, and meet all my work deadlines. Well I’m sure I can, but doing that
may involve me losing my mind. I whimper to myself, wondering how to make it all
I can work and take care of my kids, even if that means a little more TV and a lot more take-out.
Then, I get busy. I research hiring a temporary nanny to help out in the afternoons. I only decide against it when I measure out the possibilities. By the time I get someone up to speed and am comfortable with them driving my kids around, my nanny’s eight-week recovery will be nearly finished. Is it really worth acclimating my kids, and myself, to someone new for just a few short weeks? I decide no.
Finally, I surrender and ask for help. I ask my little one’s
school if she can stay a little bit later every day, allowing me more time to
work. I ask a few families from my big one’s school if they can drop him home
on the days he can’t take the bus. And I decide that, sometimes, when all those options fail, one kid may have to miss swimming or the other may have to
entertain herself while I finish my work. We’re all going to have to
work together. We’re going to miss out on things. We’re going to be a little bit
bored. And we’re all going to help one another get where we need to go.
Then, I get happy. I
can do this, I think to myself. And I can.
We’ve just completed week three. That leaves only five to go.
Usually, I’d panic when my perfectly planned kid-schedule-matrix gets messed up.
But when the big one came down with the flu this week and had to miss an entire
week of school, he had to do some extra movie watching so I could meet my
deadlines. He may have lost a few brain cells, but we all survived.
And while I’m somewhat exhausted from spending my evenings
making up for what I can’t get done in the day, I’ve enjoyed the time to be
there for my kids. It’s nice to know that, no matter what, I can work and take
care of my kids, even if that means a little more TV and a lot more take-out.
About once a day, I think that maybe I don’t need my nanny
anymore. This is going so well, I
think to myself. I’m not that tired. I do an accounting of how much money we’d
save and how much more time I’d get to spend with my kids. And then I stay up
until midnight finishing my work or realize a “little TV” has turned into a lot, and I nix that idea in my head. A nanny vacation is fun for now. But long-term,
it’s nice to have some help.