It’s mid-summer. The pool is strangely uncrowded. The parks are almost deserted. Every other car that drives by is laden with bikes and kayaks. You know what that means… vacation time. No, not for us. We already went on our vacation. For our babysitter. Each year when it rolls around, a mild panic sets in, as I wrote about in this post from my archives. Will we survive the week? Or will we destroy each other in a fit of boredom and too much togetherness? Read on to find out.
The Week I’ve Been Dreading
I’m not going to lie: I’ve been dreading this week with a capital D. Because this, my friends, is the one week a year my beloved, hardworking babysitter is on vacation. It’s actually worse than my husband going away on an extended business trip, but don’t tell him that.
The funny thing is, it’s not like she watches my kids full time or even close. I’m not some clueless Real Housewife who can’t work a stroller or peel a cheese stick without help. But just knowing I have the OPTION of backup is a huge comfort to me. We don’t live near any relatives. My closest friends all have their own kids to worry about. So my sitter has become the closest thing we have to family.
There have been plenty of mornings I dropped off the kids – particularly the Tiny Terror – and announced ominously, “I may or may not be back to pick them up.” There have been plenty of Sunday nights when I overestimated my parental patience and texted her in desperation, “Can u take R for 2hrs tomorrow, pls??” She’s our emergency contact, our relief pitcher, my last link to sanity. I have figured out through painful trial and error that I am a much better mom and wife, not to mention a more productive writer, when I have short, regular breaks from my kids. Especially during summer vacation.
So you can see why I was dreading her week off. I tried to line up a day camp for the kids, only to have the little one miss the age cutoff by a month. Doh! I tried a backup sitter, who was also on vacation, as were half the families I contacted to set up playdates. Double doh!!
Monday dawned, and I was Dead Mom Walking. Grimly, I faced my dinosaur-PJ-wearing foe across the breakfast table, where he slurped his Cheerios and plotted major mayhem and unpredictable fits of rage to be unleashed at intervals throughout the day. My coffee turned to acid in my clenched stomach.
As we dropped off my eldest at camp, I braced for the certain tantrum from his sidekick. It never came. As we drove to the gym, I steeled myself against the whining and complaining. But it, too, never came. All day long, the Tiny Terror was sweet and obedient, agreeable and adorable. After the gym, camp, and lunch, we whiled away the afternoon watching cloud formations, rolling down hills, and picking clover. They even ate the meal I cooked for dinner without (excessive) threats or bribes!
This must be what my sitter meant when she always says at pick-up, “They were no trouble at all.” Until now, I always thought she was lying through her teeth. Either that, or I was a totally incompetent mom who brought out the worst in my children. I guess the moral of this story is, everyone needs a break from the routine now and then. Of course, it IS only Wednesday. Check back with me Friday at 4pm.