Rosa begins her first week as Penny’s babysitter- she cannot bring herself to use the word “nanny,” with all its connotations of class and status – with a light heart. It pays so much less than a shift at the hospital, and she knows she will have to pick one up now and then to cover her bills. But it is glorious, spending four hours with a little human who is all potential, all hope, all good things to come.
“And all spittle, I see,” Rosa chuckles as she lifts the baby from her shoulder, in order to remove the soaked little flannel there. “Ah, and of course, a full diaper.” She will learn quickly, this first week, that Penny burps, spits, poops, in that order, like clockwork. Rosa has never been afraid of the various substances that come out of the human body, but even for her, the sheer amount of poop little Penny can produce is astonishing.
But fortunately, Penny is also an amazingly good sleeper. After cleaning her up and installing a fresh diaper, Rosa lays the little girl down for a nap. Penny’s eyes are closed and she snores gently as Rosa finishes adjusting her position and blanket. An hour will pass before she will hear the soft murmurs that indicate Penny is awake.
And these hours, while Penny naps and David is away, become the loveliest hours of Rosa’s life in this period. She reads, writes in her journal, doodles little pen and ink drawings on blank pages. She listens to music played low, often sitting in the one armchair and gazing out the window, smiling at the groups of birds who swarm in to fill themselves on the last of the fruits and seeds, losing herself in thought long enough to realize she has read or written nothing by the time Penny wakes.
Rosa’s life has not prepared her for the joys of stillness and pause. She basks in them regardless, aware that these moments, like everything in this life, will not go on forever.
Her life has prepared her for the darkness that is on its way. It will arrive in the form of a nosy question, an unsettled response, and she will respond with the strength and dignity her past has engrained in her.