This week, childcare issues turn Bryony and Jane’s lives upside down
Bryony Gordon 36 Married to very patient husband Harry, and mother to Edie, three
The nanny has been offered a new job. In New York. I can’t really say that I am surprised, given that it was always a possibility; Sophie being the sister of a friend and only ever plugging a gap while I tried to get a more permanent solution fixed. But goodness, she was good. Like, Mary Poppins good. So I had sort of convinced myself that she would end up staying with us until Edie turned 18 and, and, and…
A year ago, this would be enough to throw me into a panic. Today, I am just adding it to an ever-growing list of things that need to get done: go to work, train for marathon, keep Mental Health Mates going, write synopsis for next book, write next book, be Mum, find new nanny for when I can’t be Mum, sleep.
Don’t get me wrong – I am grateful for all of these things, even the need for childcare, because I know I am lucky enough to be able to afford it. But please, just for a moment, can I let out a massive, column-shaped SCREEEEEEAM? There you go. That’s much better. And… breathe. Mum offers to take Edie for a couple of days after Sophie leaves, giving me a bit of space to do luxurious me-time things like… go for a 10-mile run.
But almost as soon as we drop off Edie, I start to feel ill. My throat feels scratchy, and I keep feeling hot, then cold. I try to ignore it and set out for my run, reasoning that the fresh air will get rid of it. This is why I am a journalist, not a doctor. I manage two miles before I have to give up because I am coughing too much. Indeed, within a day, I have lost my voice entirely; a hacking, phlegmy sound coming out instead. Then Harry is sent away for work.
Suddenly I find myself alone, forced to do nothing, feeling like I used to when I was single and ill and had nobody to cuddle me or bring me cups of lemon and ginger tea. I resolve to get better, and never moan about workload again.
Jane Gordon Age unknown Mother, grandmother and 24/7 childminder
The news that Sophie the nanny has given notice may have thrown Bryony off balance but, on the upside (at least for me), I am allowed the privilege of having Edie to stay in my cottage for two whole days and nights. ‘We are going to Granny Sarah and Grandpa John for the weekend and we’ll drop Edie off with you on the way back to London,’ Bryony tells me in a brief phone call. It is ages since I have been allowed sole custody of my granddaughter and – despite a slight tinge of resentment that they are weekending with the in-laws rather than me – I don’t say anything other than ‘That will be lovely, darling.’ Edie is very much ‘dropped off ’ midafternoon on the Sunday – Harry sitting in the car with the engine running while Bryony brings her to the front door before waving us a cheery goodbye. I know that one of the main reasons why my son-in-law is so reluctant to enter my cottage is the presence of Zorro (now nine months – the canine equivalent of adolescence) but thankfully Edie has no such reservations. Now almost four, the first thing my granddaughter wants to do is take the dog for a walk, delighting in the chance of being able to have control of his lead and talk down to him in the way most people talk down to four-year-olds. For the whole of the next day, Edie insists on us playing a game in which she is Nanny, I am a little girl called Isobel and Zorro is on the naughty step having eaten several of the other children in Edie’s care (Lucy, a plastic baby doll, and Leo, a stuffed dinosaur). I feel as if I am taking part in a new Channel 4 documentary that is a cross between The Secret Life of Four-Year-Olds and The Secret Life of Puppies. By the time Edie is in bed and Zorro is dozing in his basket, it’s turned into The Secret Life of Grans as I collapse on the sofa with a bottle of malbec, a tub of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and Netflix…
Please, just for a moment, can I let out a massive SCREEEAM?
I feel as if I am taking part in a new documentary, The Secret Life of Grans