I left for BlogHer with trepidation in my heart. My usual childcare provider was on vacation and I wasn’t 100% comfortable with the back-up care I secured for Little L. She turned 4 on Monday and since that was the cut-off for camp… off to camp she went for the week.
To give both girls a break from the long camp days I arranged for our favorite sitter to come spend Thursday with them. Even so, I was sure I’d get a call pertaining to Little L on Friday.
Instead I got a call about C, on Thursday morning. Fever. Cold. Cough.
Fever on Thursday means no camp on Friday, and I had no back-up. None.
I walked into the Women Create Media conference in a complete and utter tizzy. I texted all my close mom friends. I posted to my mother’s group secret Facebook page. I emailed anyone I could think of.
“I need a sitter. Any sitter. She needs to be free from 7:30am to 5pm tomorrow. Please. I’m begging.”
I hate asking for help, but I hate being in this limbo state even more.
I was eight hours away, my kid was sick, and there was nothing I could do about it.
To say that I had trouble concentrating is putting it lightly. I jumped at every text and facebook update. I obsessively checked my phone for emails. I racked my brain for names, people, anyone I could call.
After lunch the first and only nibble came through.
“I can’t do it, but my almost 14yo daughter can.”
Queue a whole new set of obsessive thoughts. I’d let a 13yo babysit my kids any evening. Evenings are easy. But could she handle a full day? Could she handle C with a fever? Could she handle it if Little L came down with the bug?
I waited another 30 minutes and finally called her mom. We talked. Realized that we know each other. Realized that she knows my girls. She promised she’s stop by three times during the day. That she’d come make them lunch. She told me about her daughter’s history with kids.
With some trepidation I agreed. It was 2pm. I was desperate. I needed a warm body to sit with the girls while they watched TV. That’s what I was willing to settle for.
For the rest of the day I was jumpy and out of sorts. I can leave home at ease if I know all the plans have been laid out and that there are back-up plans in place. I can walk away and forget about the kids and about M if I know, in my heart, that they’re fine.
On Thursday, I knew, in my heart, that they weren’t.
And then Friday came. And it was worse.
The sitter arrived on time, after a bad night for both M and the kids. And…. he didn’t think much of her.
“She’s quiet… and uh… really quiet.” He told me when I called to check-in. I could tell he wasn’t a fan. That he was torn because he had to go to work. That he was at a loss.That he needed to just hand me the stress and go focus on work.
I called her mom, then I called her. And yes, she was quiet. And maybe a bit 13yo sullen. But she was there. She was coherent. She was there. And so I hung up and tried to focus on my day.
Everything went well. The kids were fine. The sitter was fine. It wasn’t their best sitter experience… but it sure wasn’t their worst.
I wasn’t fine though. It did something to me, being away like that and unable to fix things to my satisfaction. It tore me up to have to go with the “at least she’s a warm body” option. When I leave, I want M and the kids to have a great time so that when I leave next it won’t be so hard on everyone.
I failed this time and all day I carried them around on my shoulders all through the San Diego Conference Center. M’s pain and stress. C’s fever and cough. Little L’s disappointment at not going to camp. They were with me in sessions. They were with me as I met brand reps and tried to sell myself and my company. They were even with me as I cracked jokes and spoke to a packed room.
I came home drained and broken, desperate to pick up the pieces and put my family back on solid ground.
And then news of Jennie’s husband brought me back to my knees.
Life has been beyond challenging this year. The blows just keep on coming. I routinely wonder how I’m going to keep doing it all. I actually thought that this past weekend would be my undoing.
And yet, miraculously, it hasn’t. I just keep getting up, brushing away the tears, and keep going.
Today I know that this is the stuff that will eventually make us stronger, individually, as a couple, and as a family. On Friday I’ll be joining a legion of friends who will also be baking Jennie’s husband, Mikey’s, favorite desert and serving it to their loved-ones as a grand, desert based celebration of a life cut short way too soon. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not going to fix anything for Jennie or her kids. But if it gives her a little peace to know so many are doing this one small thing, then I’m happy to do it.
I’m going to take a picture of that pie and post is somewhere I can always see it so I can remember that it’s the little things that keep us going no matter how crazy the storm can get. I invite you to do the same.