Job Title: Mother/grandmother to a professional triathlete and her family while they travel internationally

Job Summary: Unique opportunity for a retired female to see the world, spend time with family, and manage stressful situations. Fantastic option for those who desire a challenge. The position offers a chance to hone jet-lag recovery, sleep while a baby cries, and work while exhausted.

Hours: Full-time—overtime required

Pay: Non-monetary

Sample Three-Week Schedule

Week One
Fly to Colorado. Manage Athlete’s household and care for Athlete’s five-year-old son while Athlete trains in Japan with her husband and infant.

Week One Competencies

  • Knowledge of homemade pizza, and how to teach a preschooler to knead dough
  • Knowledge of other foods, e.g. tuna salad with avocado, carrot, celery, and onion; grilled hotdogs; and the Chuck E. Cheese menu
  • Knowledge of routes to pre-school, dentist, Taekwondo, and donut shop
  • Persuasive skills. Used when child returns from nature school after a fall in the pond, socks soaked with mud and worms, and refuses a bath. When child demands gum and Pez for breakfast. When child conducts marathon iPad session with Netflix movies and Angry Birds games. When child begs in the grocery store for Kinder Eggs, blue Jell-O, prepared bacon, and an aerosol can of whipped cream.

Job will be easier if Grandpa joins for the week. Especially if he gifts the five-year-old a miniature golf club and wiffle balls, a learn-to-tell-time clock, Monster trucks, and Hot Wheels.

On the last day of week one, wake at 3 a.m. Proceed to Denver airport with the five-year-old and au pair (who has only flown once). Board flight for JFK. Navigate international gates including escalators, walkways, two shuttle buses, and TSA. Board plane for Rome. After landing, use Italian signage to locate and board plane to Cagliari. There, join Athlete, her husband, and baby boy, for two weeks in Cagliari on the Italian island of Sardinia.

Seven years ago, in the Rio 2016 Olympics, Athlete won gold in women’s triathlon. After birthing two babies and exploring marathon and track and field, she is attempting a triathlon comeback. Due to her lack of points, she is number five on the Cagliari race waitlist. She needs five athletes to withdraw.

Weeks Two and Three
At the Airbnb Mediterranean seaside villa, manage a variety of tasks including meal prep, clean up, laundry, floor sweeping, improvised ball games and races, diaper changes, bottle feeds, medical interventions using OTC drugs and physician consultations, and emotional support for Athlete as she trains for the race.

Weeks Two and Three Competencies
Ability to troubleshoot problems such as

  • crib slats so wide a baby’s head could slip through
  • no hot water in the kitchen
  • a washer but no dryer
  • a front door that must be unlocked from the inside with a key. Devise escape plan in case of fire or other emergency.

Daily Responsibilities
Daily responsibilities include walking grandchildren to the seaside beach. Take time to marvel at dense blossoms—bubblegum pink and raspberry red—that spill from the walls of every gated villa. Note bright chartreuse parrots perched on fence tops. Admire red tiled roofs and rough stucco walls. Memorize the endless song of mourning doves. “Whoo-whoooooo. Who! Whoo-whoooooo. Who!”

Utilize a thermometer when the baby seems feverish. Calculate the time difference between Cagliari and USA, and encourage Athlete to call her US doctor. Relax when the doctor says to simply treat symptoms with hydration, rest, and acetaminophen.

Utilize a thermometer when the five-year-old is feverish. Assume previous advice from the doctor is applicable.

Notice, while changing a diaper, flaming red foreskin around the baby’s penis. Encourage Athlete to call her US doctor. Relax when the doctor says it is probably irritation from a massive poop during the middle of the night and should clear up in a few days.

Utilize a thermometer when you feel feverish. Deny fatigue, sore throat, and congestion, and continue to change diapers, chop vegetables, walk with the baby, and pitch soccer balls and tennis balls to the five-year-old.

One day, Athlete may return from a training run and say, “Mom.” Her face will drip sweat as she bends toward her leg. “I got a dog bite. There was a pack of fifteen, and one attacked me.” Control racing thoughts of rabies, tetanus, and infection. Refuse to catastrophize. Call local doctors. Google rabies in Sardinia, tetanus from dog bites, and percent of dog bites that get infected. Discover Sardinia is rabies-free and Athlete received a tetanus shot during her recent pregnancy. Learn that only ten to fifteen percent of dog bites get infected, but to mitigate risk, visit Farmacia for topical antibiotics. Return home and find your purchase is an anabolic steroid on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s prohibited list. Visit Farmacia again to obtain Neosporin’s Italian counterpart. Also, purchase water-proof bandages so Athlete can train in the ocean.

Utilize a thermometer when Athlete’s husband appears feverish. Worry that everyone in the house has had a fever except Grandpa and Athlete. Complete a few superstitious rituals to keep Athlete healthy.

Change diapers. Mash bananas. Track Athlete’s breastfeeding schedule. Use expressed milk only when necessary and attempt to schedule baby’s feeds around Athlete’s availability.

Take children to the local grocery where five-year-old will beg for Kinder Eggs, blue Jell-O, prepared bacon, and an aerosol can of whipped cream.

These two weeks will also be easier with Grandpa, especially if he teaches dodgeball, creates a game of air hockey using brooms and a tennis ball, and accurately kicks soccer balls.

Celebrate when Athlete is added to the race start list. Prepare to view the race with your entourage of seven, including Athlete’s husband, au pair, five-year-old, and infant. The event is fifteen minutes from the villa. Taxi can transport four. The au pair will travel solo. Athlete and her husband will ride bikes to the event.

On race day, pack frozen breast milk, diapers, clothes, changing pad, and toys. Predict a positive race result. Perhaps a podium. Top-ten would be acceptable. Envision a celebratory meal at the end of the day. Call taxi for transport. Load stroller, car seat, and diaper bag. Use phone to show the driver, who speaks only Italian, GPS coordinates.

Secure roadside seating at an outdoor cafe that offers a view of the bike and run laps. Order water, espresso, and croissants for the adults. Ice cream for the five-year-old. Hold a bag of frozen breast milk under your armpit to speed defrosting. Use these distractions to manage your personal anxiety—worries about the open water swim, fears of a crash on the bike, and concern about Athlete’s preparedness.

When Athlete is last out of the water, remain optimistic. The race is long. When Athlete is last on the bike, recall her many comebacks when she ran to victory. When Athlete is lapped and disqualified, and her five-year-old says, “Mom did really good. She tried so hard,” say, “Yes, honey, she did great.”

On Becoming Memory

Remember, swollen lungs can drown. / I remember her drowning. / I am drowning myself as I write this.