Tag: Money

The Mommy Faith Diaries, Vol. 1

Then the dad picked up the racket and handed to the cashier. Shock broke over the little girl’s face and mine, a flood that swept us both up.

“Hey, Miss, can they use my coupon, “I yelled to the cashier now welded the racket.

“No, only one per transaction.”

I stared as the remaining items slid into the thin brown plastic bag.
Someone should do something,” I thought.

Then I felt God’s boot on my butt. “Yes, and that someone is you.”

I didn’t want to embarrass the parents. But I had a greater want. I wanted that kid to have that tennis racket. Hell, any kid who wants a tennis racket should have a tennis racket. “She could be the Latina Serena Williams. Give that kid a damn racket,” I wanted to scream.

“Buy it for her,” God whispered.

The family, in the midst of gathering bags, prepared to leave.

“Excuse me, I yelled. “Would you mind if I buy the racket for your daughter, I have a coupon.”

The father eyes glazed over, for a few seconds, then he nodded yes. The mom smiled. The girls gaped.

“Where’s the coupon?” the cashier demanded.

“Well, ahhhh, just take it out of here, forget the coupon.” I said shoving money at her. “How much is it?”

“$17.44.”

Can you create a miracle for less than twenty bucks?  The look on the girls’ faces, the look that said, what a surprise, the world is, at times, a kind place, confirmed you could. The younger girl carried that look out of the door. The older girl, the next Serena, grabbed that racket, shoved it into the plastic bag, twisted it shut, and headed for the exit before someone changed his or her mind.

I held in a snicker. She will go far.

The parents thanked me. “ No need to thank me, “ I said waving them off. “We all want to do the best for our kids,” I said, “We all work hard so we can do something nice.” At least that’s what I said. All I could think was, “Somebody kid was going home from the damn Toys R Us with something they wanted. Tonight.”

Since anger makes me hard of hearing, God spoke louder. “You know, the train delay, the screw ups with the cart, I did that so you’d be here to help.”

Joel O. had just delivered this lesson the Sunday before.

” Sorry for the delay,” the sales associate said, and handed over the paperwork. It seemed a lifetime had passed.

“Thanks for your help and patience.” I folded the sheets, tucked them in my purse and headed to the escalator. A few feet from the moving steps, a tall Asian woman with an even taller teenage boy behind her, flagged me down.

” I saw what you did, that was very kind of you,” she said. “God’s is going to bless you.”

I gave her a weak smile. “He already has, I have a healthy child at home,” I said. “I just want her to have that tennis racket.”

photo-check
The evidence of things unseen

“He’s still going to bless you.”

Her words broke deeper into me, easing in a calmness that caused wetness to cloud my eyes. For a moment. I’d had so many moments of anger in Times Square. My first moment of grace here at the intersection of the world, took my breath a way. Then I sucked them up. Tears just aren’t a good look in Times Square on a Friday night.

The next day’s mail contained a check, a check I had no idea was on the way. A day later, I realized even God likes to show off every now and then.

The Price of Parenthood

The cost of Parenthood, according to The Wall Street Journal

This week The New York Times published an essay on the cost of  feeding,  housing and educating a child into adulthood, and beyond. The post by Nadia Taha, The Cost, in Dollars, of Raising a Child covered every element of child rearing one could think of from braces to college to providing healthcare to the child into his or her twenties. The negative effects of Motherhood aka. “The Mommy Track” against a woman’s career and total lifetime earnings was also detailed. This extraordinary break down,which came to $435,030 in a conservative estimate to $ 776,000  and upwards to a cool 1.6 million by The Wall Street Journal’s cost analysis can be found here: http://bucks.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/13/the-cost-in-dollars-of-raising-a-child/

But what the writer missed while covering the monetary benefit of not having children is this: Parenthood is rarely so simple and clear. Statically, more than half the children born are not planned, the result of  the “oops factor.” However, human nature and foibles didn’t come into the writer’s reasoning and neither did, it seemed,  did the heart.

As I read the break down my heart hurt. I thought of the parents, the singles and couples, who agonized over having children, and yet found themselves staring at an EPT test strip with two purple lines. I thought of my grandfather, the second man my maternal grandmother married, a woman who brought five children to the marriage and added two more to their new jointly formed family. No one in that house, I believe, conducted a dollar cost analysis to having additional children or the act of raising children produced from another man’s gene pool, an idea lost on me, sadly until the funeral of my Grandpa Joe, ten years ago. I missed thanking the one super hero that ever bounced me on his knee but I can be proud of my brother Jeffrey who followed our Grandfather’s example and married my sister-in-law, a mother of two, and added two children to their union, creating as close that I’ve personally seen to a black Brady Bunch.

As with many things in life you can look at the bottom line or you can listen to what your heart tells you. And somehow, I believe at the end of my life, the calculation made by my heart, to become a mother, to adopt a child, to step into the life I wanted, will yield the best return on investment.

The Real Nannies of Manhattan

Writer’s Note: After the last post, three subscribers wrote to suggest I not use the names of the nannies in my essays. After some reflection, I agree. Therefore, from this day forth I will use the terms, old nanny and current nanny, ( C.N.) in my writings. JSH

After fifteen plus years of working through enough ad agencies that have rendered AMCs Mad Men unwatchable for me—finding too much fact in their fiction—I was certain I had seen much of the drama there was to see in the world. Then I learned that right in the heart of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, a new Mafia had out a stake in the ground: The Nanny Mafia.

“Well, I was on the playground with Julia,” my current nanny said as she fed my daughter sliced bananas, “and Julia was busy chasing her ball—the one with the lady bugs printed on it—when I looked up and saw three women, coming straight toward me.”

“What happened”?

“ They pointing to Julia and asked me, ““Are you her nanny?”’ “I’m thinking, of course I am who else would I be. But I just said yes. Then they asked me, ‘How’d you get this job…?’”

And with that I about spit out my coffee. My C.N. (current nanny) now had my full attention. I’d heard stories from other moms about the territorial natural of some city nannies.

I’d read And Nanny Makes Three: Mothers and Nannies Tell The Truth About   Work, Love, Money, And Each Other by Jessika Auerbach a full discourse on the nutty stuff that happens between New York City nannies, working moms and stay at home moms, but a playground front off? This was epic.

“I told them, I applied,” C.N. said. “That’s how I got the job.”

“Then she asked me, ‘How much you make?’” “I didn’t tell them my pay. That’s none of their business.”

I didn’t tell my C.N. that I’d other moms had shared that rogue nannies would sometimes watch you with your kid, observe your natures and, if you seem pleasant enough, inquire about the family’s pay scale, offer their services, and if need be under cut the family’s current nanny, if they had one. After all, for nanny’s seeking out a new job could put your current gig in jeopardy. A slight of hand was needed. But I sensed, this was a different game.

“Then, the tall brown skinned one, she looked at Julia and said, “‘They live around here?’”

“ Yeah,” I said, “110th street, to throw them off. I’d never say where you live. Then they asked “‘what her parents do for a living.””

My eyes widened. A blast of heat radiated from my forehead. “And?”

“I told them I didn’t know, something to do with writing. Then they asked “”what the dad did,”’ and I said Julia didn’t have a dad right now. She’s adopted.”

I nodded and slipped my now cold coffee. I wasn’t angry that she had told strangers Julia’s adopted. It’s an open fact. What pissed me off was the level of integration these women were leveling at my C.N.

“Then they went really crazy, ‘She’s a single mom and she lives around here…’” Then the light brown one asked me ‘is her mom white?’”

Now I was official shocked.

“So, told them, ‘no her Mom’s African American.’”

“She’s black!” The shorter one said.

“No, she African American,” C.N. said, her shoulders level and straight. “ She wasn’t using the right term. And she’s suppose to, right?”

A whole lot wasn’t right about this information shake down. But what fell into the positive column: C.N. had held her own. Although she stands at only 5’2”, a tiny woman that even wears an even tinier shoe, size five but she’s feisty with good instincts.

Thank God.

About three weeks after the playground information shake down, last Tuesday, C.N. texted me at work. Nothing-unusual there. Happens a few times a day. But the content of her text? That was off the charts.

The library was fine.

 But we saw Julia’s ex, there, at the reading.

Julia’s Ex? Wait, Julia has an ex? She’s not even out of diapers. Then it came to me. I stopped crafting ad copy and lunged for the phone.“She was there!”

“ Only I knew who she was, because you told me what she looks like. She walked over to us, after the reading was over and just stared at us for a long time then said. ‘Julia you’re getting sooooo big. She looked up from Julia, right at me and said, ‘I use to be her nanny.”’

“What did Julia do.”? I said, then held my breath, silently praying.

“ Julia, she just stared at her.”

“She didn’t… go to her?”

“No, she stayed by me.”

Thank God. Again.

I knew the old nanny’s game. She wanted to shame the current nanny, make her feel she had lost control of her charge.  Her status. That Julia was still connected to her.

“Are you okay?” I asked.

“Me, I’m fine. Julia’s Ex doesn’t bother me.”

I blurt out a four-letter word that sounds best in triplets, thanked her and said my good-byes, I slammed down the receiver and stared out of my office window, to the northern sky, thinking about the randomness of life, thinking of my Dad. One of his favorite quotes in life was “ Every good-bye ain’t gone.”

“What’s wrong,” Yvonne, my office mate, said from behind her massive black computer monitor.

“My old nanny confronted the new nanny at the library reading hour. She tried to get Julia to come to her.”

A silence landed in the office, collapsing all the oxygen. “Did she?” Yvonne asked.

“Thank God, no.”

“Man, who knew nannies were so complicated,” Yvonne said over the click of her computer keyboard.”

Who knew indeed?

All I did know was this: when life puts more than two people together, complications can arise. From bad breakups to intimate working relationships that derail to office meltdowns— social schisms were a fact of life. What I hadn’t counted on was the rage I’d feel when it came to Julia, and our C.N., how I needed to know no harm would come to either one of them. I know the world can be a cruel place. What I didn’t know was how deep The Nanny Wars went.

“You kind of scared me on the phone today, I never heard you mad before,” C.N. said as she slid on her jacket, at days end.

“Well, that’s more of my work side. Besides I don’t like bullies.”

After all the show is called Mad Men for a reason.