I made sure I kept myself busy that year. There was plenty of work to be had in those days, especially for a nanny like me. I was working six days a week, twelve plus hours a day. I worked for as many families as I could and made a name for myself as the nanny who you could call on a moment's notice and I’d be there, ready to watch your kids while your husband takes you out on a spontaneous date night to apologize for something or another.
Monday’s I’d do school drop off and pick up for the twins. They were identical but I could tell them apart. Mari was quieter and shy but her sister Val could take you down with just a look. They had just started first grade and I could tell that Mari was having a tough time adjusting to this new life of hers. I felt a connection to her and would try to shoot her a reassuring smile in the rearview mirror if her eyes ever happened to meet mine. I like to think it gave her the courage to walk through those doors each day and share what she did that weekend when the teacher would make them sit criss-cross applesauce on the rug that looked like a little map of a picturesque town.
After I dropped them off I headed across town to the Jacobson's. The Jacobson’s just gave birth to their first child and were a little nervous to be left alone with it. What if the baby didn’t like them? I could sympathize with that. I too was constantly worried about making a good first impression. I would come over for a few hours to help them make their baby’s acquaintance. I did the dishes, folded the laundry, cleaned up the spit up and poop, while they got to know each other.
By the time I was done with the Jacobson’s it was time to pick the twins up again. I’d greet Mari and Val, asking them how their days were but really only caring about Mari’s quiet, squeaked out answer. I’d drop them off at their art class at the rec center and wait for them with all the other parents and guardians on the stiff wooden benches outside the classroom.
Sometimes I’d talk to the other moms. We’d commiserate with each other over a crying child throwing a tantrum over the tightness of their shoe laces.
They’d say things like, “My husband Jerry is the only one allowed to tie Charlotte’s shoes. He’s the only one who can tie them tight enough.”
And I’d nod my head in sympathy, understanding the difficult art of shoe lace tightness and the science of making sure the left shoe was just as tight as the right shoe or else your whole day would be spent focusing on the uneven feeling of your feet.
That was my Monday schedule which would repeat on Wednesdays and Fridays. Tuesdays and Thursdays were my odd job days where I’d pick up any job listed on the website. I walked dogs, cats, and kids. I’d hold an infant or calm a toddler while their mom ran to the store or to the woods to scream. I’d read to a dying person in a hospice bed in their living room, take them on a walk too if they still could. I’d get their groceries for them, make them a sandwich for lunch, even pray with them if they’d ask.
Saturdays were my busiest days. There were so many basketball tournaments to get the kids to on time. So many speech competitions and dance recitals and soccer games. I shuttled upwards of 10 kids to their respective activities on those chilly mornings. Parents would offer a sleepy wave from the porch before heading back to bed. I didn’t mind it. I loved to hear the kids talk over one another as they revealed who had a crush on who at school and what notes they would pass to each other in the halls. How one teacher was secretly a witch who once cursed a student for turning in their homework late. I’d cheer them on as they left my car, running into the gym or onto the field. I’d laugh and shake my head, those crazy kids.
Saturday nights I was booked in advance because every couple wanted me to watch their kids while they went out to the restaurant, just the two of them; hadn't it been so long since it was just the two of them? On those nights I usually walked to the houses and the dad would give me a ride home after midnight. They were usually a little drunk and sometimes I’d do stuff with them. It would start with an innocent hand on my thigh and end in the back seat of their Ford. I’d walk into my apartment and pee so I wouldn’t get an infection. I assume they’d go home and fall asleep next to their wives and on Sundays they’d wake up and heard their family into that same Ford that stilled smelled a little like sex from the night before, and go to church.
Sundays were my off days because families spent time with each other. After church they crowded into the diner for pancakes and bacon. Then they’d go back home to do yard work or pick up sticks, play with the dog, watch a movie all cuddled up on the couch under a blanket.
I would take a bath on Sundays and stay there for as long as I could. The water would grow cold and I would shiver, watching the goosebumps pop up on my pale skin until I couldn’t bear it any longer. I’d towel off and sit on the edge of the tub listening to the water gurgle and screech down the drain. With nothing to do I’d sit on my couch in my robe and pour myself a rum and coke. Sometimes I’d switch on the TV and watch whatever was on. If it was the middle of a movie I played a game where I had to guess the title based on what I had seen thus far. I’d try to guess what was going to happen next and if I got it right I’d award myself with another rum and coke. I got very good at guessing.
Monday mornings I would usually wake up on the couch still in my robe and get ready to drop the twins off at school again. The year flew by like that.
Lindsay Hein is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire where she studied communications and creative writing. Lindsay's work has been published in The FlipSide and she has worked on various literary magazines including Barstow & Grand and NOTA.