The Motherlode: Game on, even at the crack of dawn
OK, so I imagine it goes something like this:
Two twenty-something guys are in a room in Danbury. They are sprawled on two futons, and there is probably a bong somewhere in the picture. Maybe “Game of Thrones” is on.
Guy #1: “I know it’s weird, right? This Greenwich mother wants me to drive her kid up to Southport every morning for three weeks.”
Guy #2: “Three weeks?”
Guy #1: “I guess she’s got a gap until her next ‘help’ moves in. She can’t get all her kids to school at the same time. So I’ve got to stay there.”
Guy #2: “Wait. You have to move in for three weeks?”
Guy #1: “The kid gets up at 6:30 to get driven to school. I am not driving down there every morning for that.”
Guy #2: Living the high life in Greenwich. Is it a hot mom situation?
Guy #1: “Dude, I am helping her drive her kids.”
Guy #2: “Whoa — are you saying you can’t tap that? Come on, man!
Which bring us back to Greenwich and my autumn of logistical hell.
Our former and much loved au pair got a once-in-a-lifetime dream job offer in August. Unfortunately, he had to start right away. That left me looking down the barrel of no driving help for our already dreaded back-to-school season.
My eldest son is due at school in Southport every day at the same time my other two kids are due at school in Greenwich. The two schools are 50 minutes apart. This is one reason we hire an au pair, lest you roll your eyes and think, “Oh, Greenwich lady has trouble with the help.” (Sort of like the way my brothers do). It’s also why we hired Guy #1, who helped me out for three weeks until our new au pair arrived from Brazil.
So enter Guy # 1. Talk about helping me out in a pinch. Highly recommended and great with my kids, this guy totally saved us. And then about halfway through his brief tenure with us, I noticed some “friendly” gestures coming my way as he met me in our kitchen every morning at 6:45 a.m. to drive Louie to school.
OK, let’s pause here to consider what 6:45 a.m. looks like around here. When I wake up in the morning it is not pretty. My hair looks like I have just been electrocuted, I can’t see for a solid 20 minutes and I don’t know — or care — if my sweatshirt is on inside out or backwards. If I lived in Salem circa 1692, those Colonists would have taken one look at me and gotten out the lighter fuel.
I realize Greenwich is not Salem, mostly, and that some moms run around in Lululemon all day. Sometimes I do, too — but it’s often inside out. The point is the mere concept of being attractive while getting the kids ready for school is a thought pattern from another stage of life. Besides, I don’t have time for it.
Imagine my surprise, then, when on week two our twenty-something driving savior started greeted me in our kitchen with, “Good morning, beautiful!”
Apparently, he had said this from the start, but I am partially deaf until about 10 a.m. Let me assure you, I am not beautiful at 6:45 a.m.
And then he made a three-course breakfast for the kids one morning. Of course, I hardly noticed, as I dashed around like a lunatic, over and around the obstacle course of lunch boxes and knapsacks that have become our morning ritual. Normally, we gobble down cereal.
“And here I am thinking I was making your life easier this morning,” he chuckled, playfully. “Do you want me to make you breakfast?”
And then I began to wonder: Was he just being nice, just trying to help a harried Greenwich mom? Or was something else going on? Then again, I was so pumped to have found someone in a pinch I could very easily be confusing things here. But why would he make breakfast for a grouchy, overweight 47-year-old witch with anger issues? And why was I thinking about this so much?
When I bounced this all off Ian, the more grounded thinker in our family, he looked at me like in was ... a witch in Salem.
So, game on.
“Can you pass me the Tupperware, beautiful,” I shot back to Guy #1 the next day. I did not smile. “And while we are at it, ENOUGH about the new Eminem video please, kiddo.” All three kids were on the verge of being severely late to their noncentrally located schools, because they were trying to rap with “da man.”
But here’s the thing: There are days when I feel like I’m a human handwipe in our house. Suffice it to say the concept of beautiful had been sucked out by our central vac years ago. I mean, who has the time?
“That’s a problem,” my friend tells me, citing the tomes that have been written about the topic, written mostly by really annoying French women.
So, yes, here I am. I am not French, but please note: My kid’s are in school on time. I am well loved, regardless of what they would do to me in Salem. And I like it that way — no, in fact, I love it. Mess and all.
And to all you twenty-somethings out there: Go make yourselves great in the big, wide world while we moms make sure your socks are clean. And avoid Salem.
Claire Tisne Haft is a former publishing and film executive, raising her family in Greenwich while working on a freelance basis on books and films.