Wendy lives in New York City with three children under the age of four. She credits her productivity to coffee, and her best friendships, to wine. Find Wendy making errors in grammar and judgment at Mama One to Three She’s sharing her perspective on all things related to motherhood here on this guest post:
This is not a post about who has it harder, stay at home moms or working moms. That is a pointless argument invented by men so that we will have little time and energy devoted to competing for the best jobs or ending wars. (This is also the case for mascara shopping, by the way. Time-sucking fabulous mascara shopping.) It is definitely not a response to everyone who may have judged me for staying home and having a full-time nanny. (It's kind of that last thing.)
One recent humid spring morning started a little later than usual, possibly due to my children staying up until all hours the night before listening to thunderstorms. I was up with H and E watching Thomas and Friends when M stumbled in, demanding cereal. No not that cereal. NO THAT CEREAL. And not in that bowl.
Because I hadn't changed diapers yet (it's true. I let them eat breakfast first.), M ran screaming from the table that H pooped, H pooped, H pooped, I SMELL HIM!
Everyone is very involved in diaper changing here--not just the two toddlers actually in diapers. All three have strong opinions on the process. There are big arguments about who goes first, who pulls the wipes out of the container, who gets the diapers from the dresser. And then everyone must inspect the poop. (All before mommy has coffee.)
I didn't feel like dealing with that scene yet. I finally made a cup of coffee, remembered where I had put it down, and let them argue around their little table--yogurt smeared everywhere, blueberries crushed on the floor underneath, very little food actually consumed. Instantly, magically, I was watching a scene in which one or more children were going to be injured. Someone wanted the Elmo spoon, someone else wanted the other spoon back because it's MINE! One child pushed another off her little chair. One pinched another's arm so hard he cried. Everyone was screaming. It was 7:30 a.m. Let's assume it was Monday.
At 9:00 a.m. a ray of light entered my apartment. The music of the angels played. The children quieted. Birds sang outside the window. The nanny had arrived.
This is what happens each weekday morning. My children stop crying, run to the door, fight over opening it, jump on the nanny, begin screaming at her to take them outside, look at this picture, play with this toy... I sneak to the bathroom for a shower. And breathe.
Because I am home, my nanny and I usually split up the kids. Often though, she takes all three to the park in the morning so I can take above-mentioned shower, write, return e-mails, and/or make doctor’s appointments. She says, "I'll take them outside for a bit," and she doesn't flinch. It isn't a cruel joke. She is better at handling my children than I am. It's true. It's true from my viewpoint. And I think my neighbors would agree having heard me scream daily for the kids to STOP TOUCHING THE ELEVATOR and GET INSIDE THIS APARTMENT RIGHT THIS SECOND. Our babysitter never yells. She doesn't cry (in front of me at least). She has never walked out the apartment and slammed the door claiming she is "done." See? She's better.
I realize--mostly from trolling urban message boards--that there is a huge wave of resentment and anger directed toward stay-at-home moms who have help. Again, I don't blame women for this. I blame some nameless, faceless branch of society that has succeeded in dividing women among ourselves, ensuring we cannot successfully unite to fight for education reform, affordable quality day care, equal pay and an end to extreme poverty.
Before I had kids--wait--before I had three kids under the age of two, I would not have thought I'd have or want full-time help. Our current nanny has been with us for more than a year now, and I've had full-time help since the twins were born almost 2.5 years ago. This one addition to our family dynamic may have helped save my sanity and my marriage on more than one occasion. I cannot do it all (without crying). Whether I am actually doing any of it is addressed on a day-to-day basis.
Perhaps I am not as capable as other mothers with three or more kids; I see several of these super amazing women with three or more children in the grocery store or at the playground. A few are my friends. I bow to them. Left to my own, I might make regular meals of Cheerios and Pirate's Booty (the vegetable kind of course!). I am self conscious about having full-time help in my situation: when-I-don't-actually leave-the-house-to-go-to-a-job-where-I-get-a-paycheck-to-pay-for-our-full-time-help.
Other women may care nothing of my childcare situation; the most important judgment does come from my own altered expectations. Sometimes I worry my babysitter--lovely, kind person that she is--might be judging me just a little bit. She seems a little worried some evenings as she walks out the door leaving me with the kids screaming and still not in pajamas. Or in diapers or underwear some nights.
This fall, we will begin sharing our so special, light-of-our-lives nanny with another local family, as our needs are changing as the kids get older and begin new school schedules. Honestly, I am filled with a little bit of fear, a little bit of dread, and a dash of excitement for the change. How
odd that I have become so dependent and so self-conscious of the help I have needed with my children. This fall will bring growing pains and first steps not only for my children, but for their much older, still vulnerable mommy.
And last, I offer an editorial on my own post because that's how I roll: Many families don't have choices about child care or working. I am lucky beyond belief that I have a choice to stay home and the option of having help--any help. I have to say that. I say that to myself most days. Life is good and because it is, I get to think and write about these things...