Wednesday, June 19, 2019

The working mom panic that never goes away

"Can you go in late to work on Thursday?" Dave asks. We are at a Broadway show, Tootsie, that is about to start. Weeks ago, our new sitter told us she had to come in late one day because of a medical appointment, and Dave had said he could handle it. I put it out of my head. Only now it turns out he's traveling and can't do it. And I can't go in late to work that day, because it is my last one before vacation and it is jam-packed with meetings and to-dos.

"WHAT?!" I say, and so begins that familiar freakout. Childcare panic is a real thing for working moms, whether you're dealing with a nanny who has to be out or a sick kid who can't go to daycare.

We've had nannies since Max was a baby—daycare was never an option for us, although the backup daycare at my job when he was young was wonderful with him. Max still needed to be spoon-fed and diapered at age 3 and a woman named Jenny there had no hesitations about it. High-five to Jenny, wherever you are: I'm forever grateful to you.

We still have backup daycare, through my current company. We can make an appointment, drop Ben off at a center, then pick him up early evening. There's one not too far away from our house, and then one near my job. The option has come in handy, and I know I'm lucky to have it. But on this upcoming day, I can't swing getting Max off to school in the morning, dropping Ben off at daycare and getting to my job in time for an important meeting.

My children are depending on me. People at the office are depending on me. Help. Me.

In the afternoon, someone has to be at the house when Max gets home from school. I am so proud of him for being able to walk out our door and get on the bus by himself, then get off the bus and walk up to our front door when he gets home. That's where the independence ends, though, as someone has to unlock the door, take off his braces, oversee homework, make him dinner and lend a hand with showering and pajamas.

I am a relatively unflappable mom, excluding medical situations involving the kids (especially seizures, the most panic-inducing thing of all)—and excluding childcare. Sixteen years into parenting, that moment of "OMGEEEEE WHO IS GOING TO BE WATCHING OUR KIDS?!" is very real. It's one of the Catch-22's of parenthood: There is nobody you love more than your children but when you're sitter-less, you start fantasizing about your kid-less life when your biggest worry was getting to work on time.

I'm not able to focus much on the show, as cute as it is. Dave comes up with a solution during intermission—he reaches to out an old sitter, who is available to be there in the morning. Childcare crisis averted...for the day.


  1. Ellen the struggle is real! I just posted a new job on for this exact reason plus needing backup for my backup. The relief is actually being able to focus on work, which is as crazy as it sounds. Thanks for the share. Good to know we're not alone.

  2. The childcare issues are real. I am currently looking at a new childcare provider as my former one left for Austria six days ago. I’m relieved I’m not the only SN mom struggling to find childcare.


Thanks for sharing!