I used to be a professional who worked in an office building in downtown Chicago. I had staff who worked for me, and a boss who I adored and who complimented my project management and told me I had strong leadership skills.
I don’t work downtown anymore. I am a stay-at-home mother. I have three kids and two dogs and a 100-pound puppy. Today I had a meeting at the school with the first grade teachers, and I couldn’t find a babysitter.
So I got some phone numbers from a friend and ended up calling a 19-year old I had never met before. He is going to be a freshman at the University of Wisconsin, which is a great hockey school. I figured that was a good enough reason for me to leave my children with a total stranger.
And then I introduced him to my kids.
These are my children. There are three of them. One isn’t wearing underwear, and I know that, but it is my rule so, you know, it would be great if he put some on. This one is a mermaid princess, not a maid, don’t ask her to throw anything away. She will change her clothes five times before I’m back. It’s okay. I don’t really know where the other one is.
The puppy is huge and he eats everything that isn’t at least four feet off the ground or behind a door, so that is why the tissues are on top of the refrigerator, the Doritos are in the oven, and I’ve just put your shoes here in the bathroom. I have no idea why there is a cooler in the front room, and I’ll clean up the recycle bin carnage when I get back.
There are chips and cookies and soda for lunch. It would be nice if they ate some fruit. That one will eat a jelly sandwich, he’ll tell you how to make it.
Don’t worry about the hypodermic needles, they are for the dog’s allergy shots, I’m not an addict, please don’t phone anything in. If you need to call me, you can’t, my cell phone is broken so if anything happens, you’ll have to call your own mother.
Mostly I just need them to be alive when I get back.
As I got into my car I thought about what I had just said. How did it come to this? I used to wear make-up and fix my hair and I didn’t have slobber on my clothes. I had leadership skills, and I managed projects, big ones.
Now it seems I can’t even recycle because I can’t keep the puppy from chewing up the newspapers and, for some reason I can’t explain, I seem to be putting coolers in the front room. My kids are eating junk for lunch and I am hiring people I’ve never even met before to work for me.
As I walked up to the house after my meeting, I saw the dogs, even the puppy, sleeping, content, in the backyard. Inside, the kitchen was clean, the kids safe and happy and giggling their way through piggy-back rides. My son was even wearing underwear. This babysitter was awesome.
As I sat down to eat my lunch, my son walked into the room and said, “Hey Mom, I want to give you a hug.”
“What’s this for?”
“I just like giving you hugs.”
So maybe I do have some of those leadership skills left. Now, to put away that cooler.
Maraya Steadman, who lives in a Chicago suburb, is a stay-at-home mother of three children. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.