Holly needs us to babysit her four children while she has her hair done. I call Tony with the exciting news and he answers, "Okay, I'll be home early."
He'll be home early, in part, because he loves hanging with the babes; but the other part is we've degenerated into wimps at childcare. I need his help and he knows it.
Four little personalities to whom we want to give all our attention to equally. Impossible! One cannot take his eye off of the eight month old, or the two year old. Around every corner is a danger, a door to the outside, a stair to stumble on and something to choke on. The twelve year old wants to play basketball and the ten year old insists we make a run to the grocery store.
When dinner rolls around, we only have one high chair. Tony feeds the two year old and I hold the eight month old and feed by hand while hefting his compact, dense body in my arms--for which I must add, I do not have the mother muscles developed over the course of the baby's growth to hold him for the required amounts of time.
When their mother arrives, we apologize for never having changed one diaper. We didn't have enough time and as Tony adds under his breath, "We didn't have enough help."
When she leaves in a flurry of joyful baby/child interactions, we sigh, and ask, "How does she do it?"
Never mind that once, we did it too.
One of the many reasons why old people do not have children.
But every once in a while it does happen, and I remember the shock and understanding of the aged mother, unexpectedly blessed by a pregnancy, a birth, and a newborn when she had already retired from motherhood. One day, she left her beloved infant at the grocery store in what was reported as a senior moment.
And that is why we are in hyper alert when we are in charge, and why it takes two of us to do the job that only requires one--that is, if you're young.