motherhood,  Parenting

I’ve Got a Mother’s Helper

(sung to the tune of “I’ve got the golden ticket”)

I’m not saying that to brag, truly I’m not, people. But oh my goodness can I get an amen and an alleluia up in here over what an absolute game changer it has been to have another pair of hands on deck?

Let me sketch this scene out for you: 1:59 pm, Friday afternoon. The gym is abandoned, save for the cleaning woman and one, solitary mother chugging along on the elliptical. All is silent, save for the subdued hum of scripted conversation from “House Hunters International” buzzing in her earbuds. All is right with the world. End scene.

In a word: perfection. Because wee bambina is under 6 months of age, she cannot foray into the kid’s club with her elder brothers, so all daytime gym visits have been off limits to me, until now. While I love working out at night after they’re all abed, I also like seeing my husband once in a while, so this daytime visit was total bliss.

I popped back home to feed the princess (our gym is less than half a mile from our house, and is therefore the one I’ve used more than any other since the old dorm + rec center relationship back in the day. So spoiled) and I ended up cuddled up on my bed in the middle of the afternoon, leisurely nursing the babe with Kristen Lavrasdatter propped open in one hand. I honestly felt so discombobulated by the peaceful nothingness  of what was transpiring that I surrendered to my discomfort with being ‘at rest’ and hopped back in the van, Genevieve in tow, to hit up the bank, the Hobby Lobby, and the thriftstore. Ballin.

In short, I humbly submit the creation of the concept of “mother’s helper” as the second best thing to happen to modern motherhood, runner up to the disposable diaper alone.

I went back and forth on the idea for a loooong time before one craaaaazy day led me to pull the trigger on 3-year-old pre school and a MH at the same time. Holy financial train wreck, batman. But honestly, it hasn’t been that bad. I pulled and pushed some things around in the budget and actually, without ever drinking coffee outside the house save for the rarest of occasions and cooking more homemade from scratch dinners senza carne, we’ve managed to make it work with minimal pain.

Moms, if there is any possibility for this to happen to your life, do it. Just do it. Cancel the Netflix account, scrap your weekly trip to Chicfila, boycott Starbucks, beg your inlaws for monetary gifts at birthday and Christmas time and squirrel it away for this express purpose…but do it. We were never meant to mother our children alone for 12 hours a day, 5-7 days a week. Unless you are living next door to your endlessly available parents or in a commune with your sister wives, you are living out a most unusual model of motherhood, the likes of which history and most of the world has never seen.

So to all you mamas out there who encouraged me to take this leap, I salute you. I will tip my Valentine’s margarita glass back tonight with gusto in your honor. And I will think fondly of you when I am blissfully applying mascara and using the toilet, but not at the same time, because twice a week, I no longer have to live out that scenario.

(*Lest this all come across as indulgent fluff, I’m also happy to report that my skinny little daughter has also put on 7 ounces in the past 3 days, simply because I have more time to spend nursing her. Color me one terrible and satisfied mother.)


  • Kristen

    Absolutely love this post!

    I’ve hate working out, but I’ve recently been thinking that joining the Y would be the cheapest way to get 2 hours a day of me time!

    • Morgan

      Do you live anywhere near a college campus? College Newman Centers are theee best place to find a willing and capable helper…my friends and I loved helping out our momma friends, and often would do it for cheap or free! Buy ’em lunch from McDonald’s once in awhile and they’re happy 🙂

  • Rochelle

    I love this post, because although I didn’t get a MH, I DID get a cleaning lady in my house twice a month. My weekends are no longer spent, frantically cleaning and getting organized for the upcoming week (I started working out of the home in October, I have two year old twins and my husband works away 3 weeks a month) I realized that I just cannot do it all. No way. So bye-bye scrubbing toilets! Hello playing trains with my munchkins!!

  • Christine

    Sounds dreamy! Even if we could wrangle it financially…I’m not sure the husband would “approve” (not that I’ve even brought it up before). I would love to hear tips on convincing the men-folk that we’re not bad mothers for wanting a hand now and then.

    • Jenny

      Christine, I’m planning on doing a whole post on the hows, whys, and wheres of the whole MH concept, but I think a good place to start might be to broach the topic in terms of bringing on a co-worker of sorts. Guys can relate to the concept of bringing in additional talent as an enterprise grows, and a household definitely has some of the same opportunities for specialization that a small business – or even a large corporation – does. Maybe your talents are more along the lines educating and catechizing your kids, and making great meals, but you could use some additional man hours in the laundry/dishes/mopping department? Honestly, we’re practically the only culture on the planet that does SAHM ‘solo,’ and it kind of sucks sometimes. For us and for the kids.

  • Nella @McDonald's In Heaven

    This may be a tad nosy, but you DO have a tab up there called green sex so….logistics? Do you mind if I ask how often she comes, where you found her, and crassest of all…how much does she charge? I’m in WNY so I won’t steal her. We’ve just come to the conclusion that we need to implement something similar and that’s on top of a weekly house cleaning girl. Downton Abbey is going to my head.

  • Rachael

    I’ve been following you for a few months, don’t know if I’ve ever commented. I’m so happy for you that you’ve found a good mother’s helper. A couple years ago, when my third baby was born and my husband was deployed, I really needed that. I was completely on my own with three kids 4 and under, and it was a pretty intense time. I tried hiring a couple different girls, but I was always unsure of what I should be asking of them, and just kind of uncomfortable having a person I don’t know hanging around. She would play with the older two, but I didn’t ever feel like I was resting, or that this was someone I could really lean on. In the end, I scrapped the idea of mother’s helper, deciding the cost wasn’t worth it for us only because I had no idea how to use a MH or how often to have here here. What does yours do and what are her hours? I am in complete agreement with you and others who say that we are not meant to be on our own all the time like this. My sisters all live close to each other and our mom, and they get and give so much help among themselves. Even just having someone else to hang out with all the time would really make the difference. I have really missed out on that, and I have learned that it’s perfectly OK to hire help and take breaks.

  • Mary Wilkerson

    This is silly, but I honestly don’t know…what is the difference between a ‘mother’s helper’ and a babysitter?
    Also, yes. I have someone watch the kids once a week- it’s a game changer.

  • Mary E

    I babysat a few days a week for a FTM when her baby was about 3 weeks until 3 months old or so (just a temp thing and worked well because I had to go back to grad school and they were going to spend time out of the country around that time). I thought it was a little strange because she didn’t have a job, but I get it now that I’m getting ready to have my first and I’ll be working/I have an idea of how exhausting it can be. It was just for a few hours at a time so she could go to the grocery store, run errands, go out to dinner once in a while. It was so chill for me because the babe slept a lot and I got to watch TV/read, whatever and I really enjoyed doing it. Good for you!!

  • Elizabeth Anne

    I absolutely love this post!! I am so glad you have one and that you are encouraging other mom’s to take the step too! Believe me, your sanity, your soul and your life as a mom will always be way better for it!!

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