One of the first lessons I learned when I became a full-time working mom was I could not do it all. It took a nervous breakdown to realize, but eventually, I go it. As a working mom, I had to become adept at the art of outsourcing. It wasn’t necessarily comfortable, but it was necessary for our mental comfort.
It began, obviously, with childcare; then rides to and from Prima’s first few field trips and special events. Cooking came next. We ate out or had take-out a lot with one child and, at first, quite a bit with two. As demands on my time and in my career increased, I outsourced birthday cakes, birthday party cooking, yard maintenance, shopping, and, gloriously, housecleaning.
The height of our outsourcing came the summer after I had Secondo. Prima was home from school, Secondo a babe in arms. It was ungodly hot and we were more or less housebound. We’d ordered our groceries off of Safeway.com for delivery. Within a span of a half an hour, our cleaning lady arrived and began cleaning, our gardener was tending the lawn, and then the Safeway truck rolled up and began unloading groceries.
Mr. Bailey and I were appropriately humiliated by our apparent laziness; then went about thanking profusely our outsources for all they were doing to help us keep it all afloat.
Life’s been hectic since I left my full-time gig. Demands on my time have increased in some ways and decreased – only slightly — in others. So I still outsource. I know, I should be able to handle all of this stuff, but right now, I admit. I can’t. It’s a dirty secret. Seduced by the convenience, it’s a habit now hard to break.
On Easter, we outsourced most of the food, at the request of my mother, who did not want anyone to fuss in the kitchen.
I was assigned to pick up the meatballs, made by a local Italian deli we love.
When I went to collect these Italian delicacies, I was presented with two large bags full of sauce and six dozen meatballs. A kindly older Italian man, obviously acquainted with the owner, offered to help me to my car.
I cooed about what a gentleman he was and thanked him as I heaved the last bag into the front seat of my car. As I shut the door and turned to go, he blocked my path.
“Oh!” I said, nearly crashing into him. I smiled and smoothed my appropriate-for-a-modern-lady-picking-up-Easter-dinner dress as he stared me down.
“Next time,” he said, waving his hand back and forth in the way only senior Italian Americans do, “you make the meatballs.”
Urgggg. Outsourcing caught red-handed, I slinked behind the wheel of my car and zoomed off, vowing in the near future to swear off my outsourcing ways and become more authentic.
But the promise felt empty, and like an addict, I crave my next outsourcing fix.