Monday, February 16, 2009

I'm Not Lovin' It

A gray and slushy February day is not going to make anyone fall in love with any city. Even Paris would be charm-free today, I'm sure. But sheesh. Moscow.

I was walking to the Metro today to collect the children from school and thinking about how, before I moved here, everyone I spoke to who had previously lived in Moscow positively gushed about the place. "Oh, you're going to love it!" "Oh, we had such fun there."

Um. I'm waiting. It's been over a year. Where's the fun?

I don't hate it. But my life here is rather routine.

Wake up. Fix breakfast. Arrange lunches. Send family out the door. Clean the house. Do some laundry. Provision. Play on the Internet. Read a little. Talk to The Spouse on the phone. Collect children from school. Supervise homework. Prepare dinner. Greet The Spouse. Put children to bed. Watch some TV. Talk about our day. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Not unpleasant. But not memorable.

When I gently grumbled to The Spouse, he suggested the reason I'm not having more fun is that there is limited fun to have inside our apartment with two children.

"We never go out without the kids!" he said. And he's right.

Finding a perfect babysitter here has well and truly stumped me.

I have a lovely young woman, a college student. She's great. But she lives a million miles away in a university dorm that locks its doors around midnight. I have to keep a close eye on the time so she can take the Metro back. She has spent the night on our couch a few times, but our apartment is small . . . It's a good solution now and then, but I wouldn't want to do it every week. And I think neither would she, especially during the week.

I talked to my Russian neighbor about her 14-year-old daughter. She's willing, but has activities of her own. And, truthfully, I would feel guilty keeping a 14-year-old up even as late as 11:00 on a school night. I might have to try her on a Saturday. But a lot of regular expat activities take place Tuesday through Thursday.

When I post ads on the expat forums, I either get Filipinas who want to be full time nannies, people who expect that my driver will take them home, or, forgive me, African students. I feel bad about sending a young woman of color home on the Metro late at night. Yeah, they are adults and can make up their own minds. But I would worry every single time that they might run into trouble. I feel bad enough sending my white sitter home by herself at night.

What about high school kids from my kids' school? Lots of them live near the school, which is a 30-minute walk from our door. But I can't send a high school kid to walk home alone in the dark. And I don't want to walk someone home at that hour either.

Am I over-analyzing this? Making it harder than it needs to be? Just plain whiny?


Tina in CT said...

Aren't there expat functions during the day as so many of the wives that go over because of their husband's job probably are not working or maybe they are?

Could you find a sitter through an expat website?

Do you go out with other moms to museums, plays, lunch, etc. during the day? An idea.

The Expatresse said...

Yes, there are things to do during the day. But I want to go out with my husband. We used to have lunch together every day. That's too expensive to do here. We used to go out at least once a week in the evening: dinner or a movie. I haven't been out with him since Christmas Eve, and that was with kids. I've never been to the movies here.

valentina said...

Doesn't sound whiney but rather like a legit problem. Baboo is old enough for day time as a mature 10 year old who has some command of Russian but that doesn't solve the night time problem. Your concerns are certainly reasonable. And I don't know as there are any real solutions to the situation. Unless you can find a couple with whom you could share the baby sitting? Take your kids to their place on a weekend night. Of course that means bringing sleepy kids home with you late at night or fetching them the following morning. But if you could arrange sleepovers with another couple -- of course this presupposes so much...that you even KNOW another couple with kids yours are friends with...I am very sympathetic. I imagine you must feel like you are under house arrest to some degree...I guess having the sitter camping on the sofa is the only workable solution for now. But you certainly have my and I suspect, everyones' sympathy. xov

Luna said...

I'm so with you on this. Not whiny at all. Could it be that we just have a case of the February blues? Nahhh . . . :)

Check expat. There was a girl (17yo) who posted something about looking for baby-sitting jobs. But I think maybe she too might be too far from the center.

Tina in CT said...

I completely understand about wanting time out alone without kids. Your blogger friend's suggestion about switching on and off with a friend maybe might work?

kate said...

Are you guys in the centre? (Guessing from Luna's comment.) There might be some single teachers who'd be willing to babysit occasionally. (Who knows?) AAS has housing that's not far from the centre for their teachers.

I'm not sure where your kiddos are in school, but there are a few International schools in Moscow. I'd put the word out in the high schools there. Or what about through ex-pat churches? Swap with another family? Give the kids cough medicine and sneak out while they're sleeping? (KIDDING!)

Anonymous said...

that's nothing...We haven't been out alone for an evening in over a year. Not that I'm complaining (much) Even lunch once a week is difficult to arrange with our work schedules here in Seattle. I expect it may be easier to arrange time in the summer. But I sure miss having our built-in sitter since he graduated & moved out!

In Boca we often traded babysitting with another couple whose kids were the same age - it really works well. You get peace of mind that the kids are with adults while you're out, and they get to have fun with their friends. Plus, no babysitter fee since you just take turns watching each others brood. It's a win-win

Anonymous said...

Hello Expatresse, are you still searching for a babysitter? My mom can help you, she lives in centre of Moscow (Prospect Mira metro station), 57 years old, has experience to deal with children (worked as a nanny) and can work part-time/hourly (evenings or in the daytime), but she is russian-speaking only. If you are interested please contact:

Seraphina said...

I feel your pain. I didn't start to really enjoy life here until we found someone lovely to watch our daughter so I could spend some time out during the day and my husband and I could go out at night. I know some people who have a Phillipino come to clean once a week plus they babysit in evenings. Perhaps if they had a weekly commitment like that they would be more interested? It seems to me that there is less work for them at the moment. Maybe put an ad in Fun Stuff?

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