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2004-03-09 | 12:24 a.m.

From eight to sixteen I spent my summers in North Carolina, living with my Dad and my stepmother. Iíd stay with my Grandma, Bertie, when they went to work. She babysat other kids sometimes, too, though she would have been in her mid-seventies by then. She had been babysitting for decades, I suppose. Once I asked her what was the most kids she ever had to watch in one day. She said seventeen, but she didnít have them all at once. They were coming and going throughout the day, I guess, and I bet it was one of the longest days of her life.

Tomorrow Iíll have seven kids here. Iím a little nervous about it, as you might expect. Not least of all because my house is a full-on disaster. Worse than usual. But also because cripes, the doorbellís going to ring at 7:15 a.m., and itís going to be, you know, people Iím not related to. I realize this is not an issue for most people but for me, it is. I get sort of Örabbity inside, hopping around, trying to make it end sooner so I can get back to being myself.

Iíve already come up with some Things To Do in case I start to panic. There are two (2) bags of popcorn in the cupboard. Check. They can always use that fruit picker thing to get oranges down from the tree. Check. Tree house. Check. We could hit the big slide park early since the girls have softball practice at five. Check.

I know someone reading this is thinking, so why do it? Because I feel certain that this will be worth it. Grace Abbondanza is like a living saint and I know someday when I really really really need someone to watch my kids, all of them, for a long time, sheíll raise her hand.

Also because, what the hell, itís only babysitting. Iím a mother with three kids; I can manage babysitting.

***

Sometimes I want something and I don't know what it is. Sometimes I want love and I don't know where to get it. I am grateful for my beautiful family, I truly am, but sometimes I get to feeling sorry for myself in spite of everything. Sometimes I stop short of feeling sorry for myself and just get lonely without even thinking about it. It is a feeling that exists without the necessity of me acknowledging it. And the people I want to spend the most time with are the people I see the least. And then there are the love monsters who never come at all.

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