A Lucky Day


Andrew is out of town again for a week, which means it is once again time for the solo parent juggle (or struggle depending on the time of day!). I was particularly nervous this week because Andrew normally picks up our 2yo on Wednesday afternoons when I teach in Neuchâtel. This week our babysitter was unavailable. The back up babysitter was ALSO unavailable. I asked the crèche if they maybe possibly had space for him that afternoon (he’s there until 2 pm normally, but I teach until 3 pm in another city), but they’re usually full on Wednesday afternoons, and they didn’t have any scheduled absences.

I sent a panicked email to my mum friends to see if they had sitters with daytime availability, and one of them very kindly and generously offered to pick him up herself. With her two children in tow. She could bring M to her place, and immediately after class, I’d make a run for the train, come back to Lausanne, go to her flat, get M, and take him home. I asked what I could do to make her life easier. She said she’d bring a double stroller along for my child and her little one — the older one could handle walking — and could I leave mine at home? Yes, of course.

Well, that’s what I said. In reality, I was nervous. M and I have taken short walks before without a stroller, usually to the pharmacy or boulangerie by our flat, but the commute to his crèche is pretty long. We’d have to walk to the bus stop. Take the bus. Walk to the train station. Take the train. And finally, walk to crèche. I knew we could do it, but this would potentially take an extra 20 minutes. I had a morning departmental meeting to attend, so we’d need to be out of the house by 7:15 so I could drop him off and still make the 8:30 to Neuchâtel, which would get me to campus by 9:30. Naturally, after two sunny and warm days, it was supposed to rain all day.

Tuesday night I got an email saying the departmental meeting was canceled. Okay — we wouldn’t have to rush in the morning. But M woke up early and excited about walking to crèche. We made it out of the house by 7:15. It was raining, but only a drizzle, and he looked adorable in his blue rain coat and bright yellow wellies with diggers on them. He did an awesome job of walking and staying with me. He’s generally a friendly, outgoing, and observant kid, and he took every opportunity to look people in the eye and give them a cheery, “Salut!” and then tell them everything he saw in a mix of French and English.

After I dropped him off, the rain picked up. I pulled out my umbrella and ducked into a shop to grab some chai and a pain au chocolat for my commute to the university. I made the 8:30 train.

As I was switching trains in Yverdon-les-Bains, I got a phone call. One of the toddlers at crèche was out sick, so they had an extra space that afternoon. Did I want it? Yes! I breathed a huge sigh of relief while sending mental apologies to the parent with the sick child who I knew had to do the childcare shuffle. I texted my friend who was now off the hook. M’s crèche is on my way home from Neuchâtel, so this would make my commute less frantic, as well.

The morning was quiet. Without a departmental meeting, I had plenty of time to grade and prep for class. I taught. I caught the train home, and while I was on board, it began to rain hard. By the time I got to M’s crèche, it was sunny. We commuted home, alternating walking with our various modes of transportation, and M proudly told me everything he saw and that he was a big kid (or “beeg keed” in his French accent) and made friends with strangers.

What an enormous relief. It was one of those days when everything went as right as possible, down to the timing of the downpours, and I ended the day feeling exhausted but so very lucky.

A photo from yesterday's commute. Colza means spring.
A photo from yesterday’s train commute. Colza means spring.
© 2016 Anindita Basu Sempere. 
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