While I’m working on this week’s column my nanny is in the other room giggling with my babies. I never thought I’d ever, in a million zillion years, have a nanny. The whole “having a nanny” thing is completely out of my comfort zone and although it’s going on ten-months that we’ve had Liz and I should be used to it by now, the weight of it still catches me by surprise.
The other day I was at Western Bagel grabbing breakfast with my friend Diana when we ran into a mutual friend I hadn’t seen in awhile.
“Hey, where are your twins?” she asked, innocently. It actually took me a second to realize that, yes, I have twins, and no, they weren’t with me while I was enjoying my poppy seed bagel with reduced fat cream cheese and a perfectly ripe slice of tomato.
“Uh, they re with the…well, you know, the woman who watches them for me when I write.” I wiped my mouth trying to get at the huge gob of cream cheese perched there, giving away my slovenly ways.
When I write? Who the hell was I kidding? If I’m honest, the actual writing part takes up about three or four hours of the day (on a productive one). The rest is filled with playing Jumble on Facebook (just to get in a creative mode), checking my email incessantly, feeling guilty for never going to the gym anymore, pacing, calling my agent to leave a message with her assistant asking why she never calls me back, thinking about how hard it is to write, reading the Circuit City circular and then giving up and going to pick my daughter up from preschool.
Liz is with my baby girls nine hours a day. And she’s not going anywhere even after my book is has long since been turned in. I couldn’t survive without her and I have to accept that.
Needing help has always been a tough pill for me to swallow. I like to think of myself as a “do it yourselfer,” a woman capable of working, paying her bills, even rewiring a stereo if I had to. But when my first daughter was born and I’d spent the first couple of months attending to her 24/7, I knew I was way out of my league. I was resistant at first but I finally broke down and hired someone to help me a couple hours a week. But when I found out I was having twins, I immediately knew I’d need someone fulltime. Trust me, it's not because we have too much money and need someone to help take a lot of it off of our hands every week. "I mean, gosh, where should we store all this extra cash? It's such a nuisance." It's simply and pathetically a matter of sanity. I’m not meant to be with three kids all day every day.
There are drawbacks to sharing my life and children with someone who isn’t my husband. I can’t help but worry about what she’s thinking. Is she in the other room having thoughts like “Would it kill Stefanie to clean a bathroom?” or “I can’t believe this family keeps so much beer in the house but they’re out of baby wipes” or “What kind of person TiVo's the Janet Dickenson Modeling Agency” and if I’m feeling particularly insecure I might imagine her thinking, “These babies think I’m their mama! And I love it!”
But here’s the thing: I am a writer. And I do have a book that needs to be turned in. And after that, there will be another book or article or job. And I’m just lucky, so lucky to be able to have someone so great, loving, funny and affectionate taking my girls to the park, worrying about how much they’re eating and watching them grow.
I take one last swipe at the cream cheese and say to my friend, “Yes, my babies are with my nanny, Liz.”