As fall prepares to bust through the lazy, hazy days of summer and kick our collective butts into high gear, I am, for a change, being proactive about what the next ten months will look like.
I’ve always been a working mom. (Hell, aren’t we all? Nowadays, even if we don’t leave the house or technically are dads, we’re working moms), but lately the job has become more demanding, and the children are officially “latchkey kids.”
Side note about latchkey kids: If the guilt of not being home the minute your children return from school doesn’t slay you, then hearing them described as pathetic orphans or extras from the musical Oliver! will put a dagger in your heart. Even if they are teenagers.
While I’m more than happy to serve my family gruel, I draw the line at latchkey-ness. And so, the hunt for a couple hours of consistent afternoon care is on.
An SOS on Facebook got a few funny responses and a couple of real options that were close, but no cigar yet.
Of course one of the unwritten mommy laws is that good help is so impossibly hard to find that when you do get your paws on someone awesome, you hide them in your family dungeon just in case you ever need them.
(Full disclosure: I am currently knee deep in a Game of Thrones binge, so that’s where all this medieval imagery is coming from. Then again, our societal view of motherhood, and the idea that we can all toil alone and fester in shit of our own making without a modern solution that provides accessible, affordable childcare for kids of all ages is positively archaic. Plus being a mom isn’t much different than being a dragon wrangler, which I believe therefore makes me the Khaleesi of the House of Bitch’in.)
A friend recommended that I check out an online caregiver option, care.com, as he found an awesome woman there to help take the afternoon load off. In order to do some in-depth poking around, I first had to create a profile, which included articulating my childcare needs.
Three hours later, I was still staring at a blank screen.
How do you sum up what you do in a way that isn’t, well, fully terrifying?
It’s not that I haven’t written many times about how if moms were paid for what they did, they’d have a fancy pants, high-paying position with titles including:
• Computer Operator
• CEO (yes, on salary.com, this is where CEO is listed on the “What’s a Mom’s Job Worth” post. I love that housekeeper and cook come first.)
• Laundry machine operator
• Facilities manager
• Van driver or chauffeur
But I figured it I put all that in an ad, it would either get no response at all, or alternatively it might attract a maniac.
Plus after a while, I started to understand that my resistance was much more existential than something as simple as writing down a few things that I need help with.
The control freak/mama bear was having a hard time letting go. For me, it’s a constant struggle to come to terms with the reality that having it all and doing it all are two different things.
And so, after a few hours of futzing with my new care.com profile, I finally quit and went to bed. To unlock the full bounty of willing caregivers, I would need an upgraded account and I wasn’t quite ready to pay to play.
Secretly I think I was hoping Wonder Woman would swoop down while I slept, tag me with her magic lasso, and grant me with the power to be a superhero like her (including the amazing Amazonian perky ta-tas).
Or maybe I’d wake up and the morning headlines would scream that cloning is now possible, without the chance of an Orphan Black epic fail. I’d be the first to sign up.
(Note: Speaking of Orphan Black, that show is definitely my next binge — what’s yours?)
Unfortunately, I woke up in the same normal, mortal body with my real life unchanged, and the need to get rolling on hiring myself a few hours worth of relief all that more pressing.
I logged into my email, and much to my surprise, found this response to my half-assed caregiver guide:
“Hi, my name is X. I’m from Europe — more precisely from France. I speak different languages including French Dutch German and Hebrew. I’m a college graduate, and I can assist with homework tutoring. I have my own transportation. I’m a responsible driver. I am happy to assist with some light housekeeping and take care of the meal preparation. I also have bodyguard training, which allows me to provide protection services. I’m friendly and very patient. I am a hard worker and will take this mission seriously. I will perform the best service possible, and I’ll be very careful with your children and treat them as if they were members of my own family.”
DUDE! It was a dude! And he speaks a bunch of languages! This is a MISSION! He gets it!
And, he’s a freakin’ BODYGUARD! Not even anything I put in the job description, but of course what probably kept me from posting a childcare wanted listing in the first place was how do you ask someone else to guard your children with his/her life? Oh, and do a little meal prep, too.
I haven’t made up my mind yet, but I did pay for the upgrade on care.com, and my inbox is full of responses from some very capable people that come with a built-in background check and a long list of references.
So if you see my kids walking down the street, chatting with a hulking dude in a language you don’t understand, just know that the key to finding the Holy Grail of Excellent Childcare is to let go of the idea you’re hiring yourself. Because you’ll never find someone as qualified, but that’s not the quest anyways — your mission is peace of mind, and sometimes you have to let go to get help.
Full disclosure: Care.com doesn’t know who the hell I am, and I wasn’t paid a dime for the plug. Just sharing the wealth with anyone who’s looking, because once I hire someone there’s not a shot in hell you’ll get his/her phone number from me! And my parents, who are also very helpful and get me out of child care binds all the time, have an unlisted number so don’t even try to contact them, or I’ll send my personal bodyguard out to get ya!