Sunday, June 6, 2010

"Those Were the Days"

When Ratchlet was just over a year old, I needed to find a job.  I had been home with her for a year, but money was tight and I was not really cut out to be a stay-at-home mom.  The Big Guy was very supportive and knew I was not doing very well emotionally with just the baby to keep me company! 

This happened many years ago and times were definitely different.  Moms just did not work outside the home, unless there was an overbearing  financial need, like a divorce or something.  I received a lot of skepticism and disapproval from a lot of different people, but those who really knew me and cared about me (like family and good friends) understood and supported me.  Of course, that was only for the first couple of years I worked, after that it began to be more and more common and accepted, but when I started, I was unusual.

Now obviously, we needed to make some arrangements for taking care of our daughter while I worked.  It was bad enough that I wasn't going to be there every minute of her life, if the arrangements were not top notch, there was no way I would have done it!!

So we advertised and interviewed and discovered gold!  We found Mrs. P.  Oh, she was wonderful!  She was about 15 years older than I, she only lived about 3 blocks from us.  She had 3 children of her own, 2 school age boys (about 9 and 10) and one 4 year old daughter.  Several months before she responded to our ad, she had suffered a miscarriage and was looking for something to help fill up her days. 

In the interview we discussed what we needed and she met my little Ratchlet.   Ratchlet loved her!   It was a perfect match and she became part of our lives for the next 2 years. 

Every weekday morning Mrs. P and her 4 year old daughter (Little P) would arrive at our apartment at about 7:15 am.    We only had one car, so the Big Guy would drive me to work and then go off to his own job.  After we left, Mrs. P would give Ratchlet breakfast, get her dressed for the day, and then clean the apartment (beds, vacumming, dusting, bathroom stuff), while Little P and Ratchlet played together.  Once those things were done, Mrs. P would take Ratchlet and Little P back to her own house (she had a yard!!) or the park or shopping, then Ratchlet and Little P shared lunchtime and naptime and they became good friends.  Little P was like the big sister.  Mrs. P played with them, took them to the library.  Whatever she did for her own daughter, she did for ours!  After work the Big Guy and I would come and pick up the baby and go on home.  Ratchlet even stayed at their house for dinner a few times when the Big Guy and I needed to do something after work. 

It was perfect!  My house was neat, clean, and de-cluttered every day, the baby was safe, well-cared for, well-mannered, and happy.  By the end of the 2 years Mrs. P had accomplished complete potty training for us!  No angst, no fuss, no muss, no trauma!  Mrs. P's whole family (including the boys!) loved our little girl and made her a part of their family.  It was wonderful, the best time of my working life (and I had a pretty great career).  In the two years she took care of Ratchlet, Mrs. P only had to take off 2, the day of her mom's funeral, and the other the day they read the will in the lawyers offices.  That's it!  Twice in 2 years! 

Mrs. P was a gem!  She treated Ratchlet like her own daughter.  It was a mutual admiration society.  Ratchlet loved being with her and she loved have Ratchlet with her!

(Ratchlet, at about 2 1/2 years old.  Wasn't she a cutie?  )

Of course, ultimately, like all good things, Mrs. P's time with us came to an end.  She again was pregnant and due to her history of miscarriages, her doctor ordered her off her feet as much as possible and to take it easy.  Little P was starting school soon and with those restrictions Mrs. P just couldn't continue.  Of course, we totally understood and agreed that the health of Mrs. P and her baby were of primary concern.  Ratchlet was about 3 yrs old by this time and she would easily adapt to nursery school.  So with much hugging and a few tears, and much love we said goodbye to our Mrs. P, Mr. P, Little P, and the boys.  The gave Ratchlet a lot of love and she benefitted from it for a long time.

I am happy to note that Mrs. P's baby boy was healthy and born on schedule and Mrs. P came through with flying colors.  We kept in touch with Mrs. P through the years.  We moved out of the neighborhood about two years later and the contact was reduced to notes at Christmas time.  We got announcements about graduations for the boys and Little P and they heard all about Ratchlet's achievements.

I'm sad to say that I don't remember anymore exactly when it happened, but one day we got a phone call from Mr. P telling us that Mrs. P had died from an illness that she had been fighting.  Little P was still in college.  It was so very sad.  Of course, all of us went to her funeral to pay our respects to this lovely woman who was Ratchlet's 2nd mom.   

A couple of years after that we were invited to Little P's wedding.  Ratchlet was away in Grad School, but the Big Guy and I went to the wedding.  She was a beautiful bride who looked a lot like her mother....they both had flaming red hair.  It was so sad that her mom wasn't there to see Little P all grown up!   I know how proud Mrs. P would of her daughter.   Although not consistently, Little P (who has a bunch of kids of her own) and I still occasionally trade Christmas notes.  Isn't that amazing after all this time? 

Mrs. P was one of life's gifts.  She was amazingly perfect for us.  We missed her for a long, long time.   

......oh...uhmm......did I happen to mention that for those two years she was with us, we paid Mrs. P. the grand and glorious sum of .....(you'll never believe it...I don't believe it and I was there!)..... $25.00 a week???!!!

Oh yes, "Those Were the Days, my friend...."


  1. What a great story! It is truly wonderful to find someone so great to watch your child. That can be a hard thing to come by!

  2. Your daughter was indeed a cutie. You were fortunate to have such a dependable care giver. It is nice that all of you bonded so well and have good memories.

  3. How wonderful! When my children were very young, we had some great care takers come to our home, and it is shocking how little we paid them for such important work! Your daughter was a doll. laurie


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