it was 2008. my kids were 1 and 3. it was the year when i first decided i couldn't do it anymore. of course there have been many times since, and i've carried on just like i did that first time. that first time i wondered if this working full time with two young kids would kill me. or ruin me. or them. or all of us.
of course it hasn't, and we are fine. but every so often all those balls i am juggling drop to the ground and i fall down to pick them up and put my hands up and say 'i surrender!' 'this is too hard!', and 'save me!'
that first time in 2008, i threw my hands up with a craigslist post and said, 'i'm prepared to quit my good full time job' 'i want to be home with my babies' and 'they are growing up before other peoples eyes' and 'i will have that no more'. i posted my ad and decided to be a nanny. to care for my kids and someone else's and in the back of my mind i knew it wouldn't work. that it wouldn't quite pay the bills. that it wouldn't really fix anything. that it wouldn't give me what I really wanted, which was to just be a mom.
but i did it anyway. and i met with some amazing full time working moms with hope and wonder in their eyes if i was the answer to their prayers. the one that would help them manage their full time job and their full time kids. 'help me' their faces said.
and i met this one mom at a coffee shop. and we talked and we chatted and discussed our kids and i looked at her and saw myself. i saw someone doing it just like me. the full time job thing and the kid thing and what happened is she didn't say 'yes, you! you are my new nanny'. maybe she didn't see my frazzled self capable of it. maybe she saw herself in me too. and knew that i wasn't about to quit my job. that i couldn't quit my job. she saw someone on their hands and knees saying 'i surrender!' and 'this is too hard!', and 'help me'.
and what happened that day was not a business agreement. it was the beginning of a friendship that since has been a lifeline to me.
her and i live this parallel life and really can't help each other in the way some friends do. we communicate mostly by email and text and chat. we don't ask each other to watch our kids because well, we know how hard it is to manage just our own. and of late we don't even invite each other's kids to our kids birthday parties because we know adding a 'gift purchase' to the to do list could be the final straw that sends us to our knees again. no, we don't see each other much or do 'girl time' much because we both know how precious our family time is and how precious our husband time is, and how it's sometimes pressure just to keep all the women in our life happy too. so we see each other once or twice a year and oftentimes it's in the parking lot at soccer practice because one of us has found an amazing BOGO deal at target on a pair of boots and to save the other time, ordered and shipped them.
this is a person i can tell ANYTHING too. a person that doesn't respond to anything with something worse to one up me, or something better to make sure i have perspective. this is a person that can simply say 'i'm sorry, that sucks' and i know she means it. she doesn't pity me, or overwhelm me with advice on how to fix it. she just says 'i know'...and she does.
she's someone that knows conferences, field trips, class parties, sick days, and no school days aren't just inconvenient but damn near impossible to navigate. that sometimes the logistics of our life just fail. that clean laundry and milk in the fridge should be celebrated. that volunteering in the classroom, deserves a blue ribbon. that the one time a year you get to ride the bus with 60 3rd graders to see a play might damn well be the best day of your year. that the rat race between 6am and 9pm can leave you spinning. that always being late and missing that thing you needed when you finally show just sometimes makes you wonder if you need a padded room.
she knows exactly when i need to be told to snap out of it and tells me to take my vitamin D 'it sounds like the winter is getting to you carrie, vitamin up!' she knows when i just need to vent, or be told i'm not alone. she knows when i just need to laugh. and when i just need her to tell me her amex bill is higher than mine. we compare mortgage balances, we work out financial decisions on paper together. we are honest with each other and know when to say 'YES DO IT' or 'NO DON'T'. we help each other find daycare, and bounce birthday party ideas and invitations and christmas cards off each other. 'does this look good?', 'NO, bad color...change it'. we share where to get cheap pants for our always growing girls. we say what we think, which is usually what the other needs to hear, and it's honest and helpful at the same time. we have been on 189 diets together, all of which have failed but we keep cheering for the other. and when the other says, 'let's try this' the other says 'let's'.
she knows what to say when my kids get sick and i have to juggle work in the midst. she reminds me what's important, and what's even more important than that.
she also knows that despite it all, i am so thankful and feel so blessed in this crazy life. she knows that i wouldn't change a thing, or trade my problems for anyone elses. that they are mine, ALL MINE and i'm not asking for a different life or a better life or an easier life.
she just knows that sometimes, there is just NOT. ENOUGH OF YOU. TO GO AROUND. and when to say 'you are enough', 'you are doing it' and 'you are doing a good job'.
sometimes i think those simple words are all that's gotten me thru the last 6 years.
i wanted to write this because, in 20 years i never want to forget the impact she has had on my life. we may not need each other in the same way we do now. but i could not have done this without her. i hope that in return, i've given her even half the support to keep going that she's given me. i think we both think that the strange way we met via a craigslist ad just had to be. that we had to find each other in this crazy life, join hands and walk this tightrope together. because otherwise, we'd have fallen by now.