When the universe the universe hands you a gift, you grab it with both hands. And I did just that when Julia’s sitter, oops I mean Julia’s Personal Assistant arrived to the house early. Natasha rejects the terms nanny or sitter.
“I’m here crazy early,” Natasha said after I opened the front door of the apartment still sporting my ruby red bathrobe.
“I’ll just drop off my bag and go do an errand,” she said.
And that was the plan until Julia caught on.
“I want to go! Can I come? Please Tasha!”
“Sure, come on Jules.” Then Natasha turned to me and said with a sly smile. “I’ll give you a little time to yourself before you go to work.” Then the two of them scooted out the front door and into the warm morning.
I thought of putting this luxury of time towards hauling out my fall/winter clothes, or pruning down the books I’ve deemed unimportant enough to keep, for about seven minutes. Then through the living room windows I caught a glimpse of the honeyed light. I peered down eight floors, and sported a woman clad in tights and a tank top jog along side Central Park.
After four years of running with Julia while I pushed a SUV-sized Bob Revolutionary jogging stroller, and now with her running beside me, I can say, alone time while running was a huge gift. So I jumped in tights, tee shirt and sneakers and bolted from the apartment, crossed the avenue, and podded into Central Park. Normally I don’t run on cement. This was no normal morning.
Autumn in New York is a beautiful time in the city. Trees are still green and lush. The air smells a little fresher because of the moderate temperatures, mostly rising only to the low 70s. There was a reason why Vernon Duke was inspired to write a song about autumn here.
So I ran and ran until my barely charged iPod burned down. I kept ran until I could not run another step. Forty-five minutes later, I crawled out of the park, towards home, sweaty and happy. As I reached the entrance of the building I noticed the doorman talking to the porter a bit further away from the door, on the grey sidewalk, standing in the sun.
Everyone seemed to be enjoying the day, I thought.
I pressed my key into the lock, opened the front door, and pealed off my sneakers and socks as I clambered down the hall.
“Mommy’s home, Mommies home!” Julia said running up to me, lassoing her thin arms around my knees, Then she stepped back and plopped her hands onto her skinny hips. Natasha stood next to her and did the same. They glared at me.
“We want to talk to you,” Natasha said.
“We didn’t know where you were when we came back from our errands. Your phone was here and iPad so we knew you hadn’t left for work. But we couldn’t find you. We went down to the recycle area, we asked the building porters, and still couldn’t find you… so then started think that maybe it was episode from Law and Order SVU.”
Stared at them both blankly and chuckled. They didn’t laugh. They were dead serious.
“We thought something happened to you.”
Natasha leaned in close. I wasn’t sure if she would hug me or slug me. Heat radiated off her skin. “We were really worried we didn’t know where you were.”
“I went running.”
“But you didn’t tell anybody.”
The thought did cross my mind to send her a text but I didn’t because the fact is: I haven’t had to tell anybody where I was going for a long time. As the only adult in my house. I make and execute the rules around theses parts. But with a new sitter, opps I mean Personal Assistant for Julia, everything is clearly different. Albeit in a good way.
“I’m sorry guys I made you worry,” I said and hugged them both, sweaty and all.
“We went down to the basement and called out,” ‘Jenine Holmes answer if you can hear me.’ “Then we finally went and asked the doorman had he seen you, Carlos said you went jogging.”
Geez, if I had spoken to Carlos he could have warned me that I was in deep doo doo at home.
“Really guys I’m very sorry.”
“Mommy you deserve a butt spank!” Julia said with more than a little bit of gee.
“She sure does!” Julia’s PA said backing her benefactor.
I smiled. “Okay Jules, I’ll take my medicine,” I said, bent my bum over and braced myself.
Let’s just say, for a five-year-old kid Julia has quite a wind up and a heavy hand.
After a few hundred swats Natasha pulled Julia’s tiny hand away, “Okay, Jules that’s enough.”
But it would never be enough. There was so much love in the swatting, some much love behind their angry eyes. It was right then and there that I knew. We three, on a serious level, had formed a real and vital bond. All summer I worried about finding a sitter who could work with Julia’s longer days at school, worried how this child care scenario would play out with Angie leaving our home seeking full time work. Who knew the universe already had the answer? Already had the new world order worked out. A new lesson for the Single Baby Mama. I just had to step forward, and say yes.