When our nanny of three years announced she was going back home to the Philippines to see her family, I was truly happy for her. When she told me she’d be gone for six weeks, I panicked.
How would I cope? It was December, the most hectic time for my gourmet gift business. It was the holiday season, and I had three kids off school looking for action. And it was winter, with an old black lab who needed lots of walking. My husband was swamped with work, my parents were away on a cruise, and my mother-in-law was heading out of town.
Did I mention I’m a neat freak?
So I did what any sane, work-from-home mom would do: I looked for a temp. But after many missed interviews and awkward phone calls, I decided to take charge and reclaim my life. Aside from not wanting to pony up the cash while my nanny was on her paid vacation, I reasoned that I could handle my own family for a measly month-and-a half.
Friends told me I was nuts. Random moms in the school pick-up line offered me the numbers of cleaners and babysitters. Some even offered to pimp out their own nannies. The more other people insisted I couldn’t possibly handle it, the more I knew I had to at least try.
Proving the naysayers wrong was no mean feat. The first casualty was the dog. The poor guy soon learned that, while the world may be his toilet, he was now confined to the back of the house. As the snow fell on our poop-filled backyard, I learned to trust my kids out front. The oldest took pride in keeping his two younger brothers in check – and on the driveway.
While they played happily outside, I re-jigged my workout. Who knew vacuuming could be such a great workout? Racing up and down stairs, constantly in and out checking on the kids, and frantically scrubbing toilets required as much exertion as a step ‘n pump class.
By the second week, I started getting cocky. I was managing. And despite extra screen time and a less-than-spotless kitchen, I was loving it. Baker by night, writer by midnight, cleaner/chauffeur/cook/confidant by day, I felt like a real domestic goddess.
My kids made their own beds. They entertained themselves and sorted out their own issues. We played together – on the floor instead of the computer. My man was no slouch either. He gave our dog the love – and walks – he needed, while taking on more driving duties. He was coming home earlier and ordering in more. We were all loved up with no place to go – after all, we had no babysitter.
The icing on the cake? I’d shed all the mommy guilt I’d been harboring since the birth of my first child. Instead, I had new guilt – did I need the extra help in the first place? Maybe I didn’t. In which case I felt guilty about my nanny returning to the county jobless. I started stressing about her return, vowing to maintain the “new us” we’d forged during her absence.
When her return was delayed by a week I was relieved. Until I noticed the roots on my hair – and my bikini line. Several doctor appointments loomed and I’d had to cancel at least four meetings. When she finally came back there was an adjustment period. For about 36 hours. Now it’s like she never left. Except for one thing: I now know I can be supermom. But only if I have to.