In the cast of characters of my life there is one you almost never hear about. Her job isn’t sexy. She doesn’t make a ton of money. She certainly doesn’t get all the credit she deserves. She is my babysitter. And she is my secret weapon.
She was my roommate’s babysitter / housekeeper / nanny while I was in college. About the time I got pregnant, my friend’s kids had grown up enough and were at the age they didn’t need her as much. So I asked her to help me with Jeremiah, and now she has been a part of my household for the last seven and a half years. I went back to work when my baby was four weeks old. I worked long days, but felt completely comfortable with her around.
After about four years in my last career, I was over worked, over stressed and over that particular job. But for some reason I didn’t have the courage to leave. One Thursday morning my babysitter had arrived and I was about to leave when my 18 month old came in the kitchen and mumbled something like, “Momma, I hungee”. I replied, “No problem baby, what do you want?” He looked at me with his finger pointed at his babysitter and said, “Not you Momma. That one.” My babysitter looked at me with big watery eyes and told me she had been meaning to tell me that he starred calling her mom but didn’t know how to do it.
I grabbed my purse with my tears held back and got in my car. I cried ALL the way to work. After pulling myself together enough to get through the morning, I texted a friend to go to lunch and then cried all the way to the restaurant. Joshua (one of my Gomez gems) met me, and within a few minutes I was in tears again. When the waiter came by, he ordered a bottle of wine. Joshua made me laugh and I started to feel better–partly because of the laughter and partly because of my little lunch buzz. For a split second I thought to myself that I might be able to continue in my crazy job. But as I looked into my glass, I realized the only way I could would be to drink a bottle of wine at lunch everyday. I knew I wasn’t in a healthy situation and I needed to leave.
The next day I texted my OMLO that I was having a terrible day and needed to talk. She sat me down on her back porch, and gave with a bottle of Corona and an open ear. After listening to me whine and cry about my job, how much I worked, and how this particular breakdown had started, she wrote me a prescription for Xanax and told me to take the weekend to get my shit together.
I did. I walked into work on Monday morning and quit, all without another job lined up or much of a savings account. It was the best thing I could have done.
Despite my son starting to call the babysitter “Mom,” I never got jealous of her. Instead, I felt lucky that my son had two women he loved enough to call mom. It’s a term of endearment and if he wanted to use it, who was I to stop him?
Now my poor babysitter has had more than her fair share of grief. In 2009 her middle child was shot and killed. In 2012 her youngest child was in an altercation which ended with him shooting and killing another young man. As devastated as we all were by the news of her tragedies, they really gave me a different perspective. When we hear news like what happened to her sons, we never really think about the mothers of those kids–at least, I hadn’t up to that point. One might think it’s just about thugs killing thugs. But more than likely there are moms behind those kids who end up with broken hearts and their lives turned upside down. But even with a broken heart (times two), she was strong. She continued to come to work, to keep my house picked up, to be a part of our household, and to help raise my son. For that, I’m so grateful.
Just a few months ago my son called her mom in front of me again. I gave him a hard time about it, like I do most times. He looked right at me and said, “I’m never going to stop calling her that. So you might as well just get over it.” Point taken little boy. I often say that my life’s biggest lessons come from a forty pound person.
I was reminded today how important she is in my life while she washed my hair. Like she has been for the past seven and a half years, she will be in the shadows on the journey I’m taking. I’m a lucky girl to have such a great secret weapon.