Weekly Column: Babysitter Guilt

©Stephenie Freeman

I hate trying to find a babysitter.  It’s a part of my job that I am not very good at.

“Yes, hello, I’m looking for a babysitter.  My kids are driving me nuts, the house is a mess, and I need to get away from it all and feel like a real person for a few hours.  Would you be willing to give up your free time on a Saturday night and get paid next to nothing to watch my little heathens for me?”

And to think, my husband wonders why I have trouble finding a sitter.

I don’t like hiring babysitters is because the whole process leaves me feeling guilty.  The guilt comes from asking someone to do my job for me—a job that I’m supposed to love, supposed to be great at; a job that I’m desperate to get away from for just a few hours.  I am choosing to leave my post, allowing a temp to step in and cover my duties, and like any good employee, most of my time away is spent worrying about the job that I left behind.   

No one can do my job as well as I can.  From the moment that I found out that I was pregnant with my first child, I officially accepted the job of motherhood.  Peeing on the stick was like taking an oath of office.

“I, Stephenie, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the joys of motherhood, and will to the best of my ability, care for, protect, and look after the baby to which I have been bestowed.”

No one threw me a parade.  There were no balls to attend.  I had just accepted the hardest job in all the land, and all I got was a few stretch marks and an extra forty pounds.  The only perks that came with the job were the jeans with the elastic waistband and the excuse to eat as much chocolate ice cream as I wanted.

At first, like anything that’s new, the job was fun and exciting.  Picking out names, decorating the nursery, and eating for two was great.  Motherhood was going to be the best job I’d ever had.

Then the baby came, and ever since it’s been like climbing uphill, in the rain, blindfolded, with a thirty pound toddler on your back and a whining preschooler pulling on your leg twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

And then suddenly one day, when you feel like you’re never going to make it to the top of the hill, your husband comes home and says, “You deserve some time off for good behavior.  Find a sitter and let’s go out.”   

 But as you pick up the phone and start to dial, you are quickly saddened.  Along with the guilt that comes with leaving the house, there is the devastating reminder that your kids like the babysitter better than you.

“Boys, Heather is coming over tonight to watch you while Daddy and I go out.”

My boys whoop and holler like it’s the best news they’ve ever heard.  They go on and on about how much fun she is, how much she plays with them, and how she lets them do things that I never do.

I tend to stop them here before it escalates any further.  There’s nothing worse than hearing about someone who is better at your job than you are.  I now know how George Bush feels.

She’s not only better at it; she’s also younger, thinner, and has a lot more energy.  She’s everything that I used to be…and more.

And for ten dollars an hour she should be better than me, and I can count on my boys to make sure that she earns every penny.

Maybe I’d be as good as the babysitter if I was getting paid to do the job.  On the Website salary.com, there is something called the MOM Salary Wizard.  After plugging in my children’s ages and my zip code, I found that a stay-at-home mother in my community should be earning on average $125,250.

With that kind of salary, I could pay for a lot more babysitters.

4 comments :

Michelle said...

Don't feel bad. We all need a time out!! They better earn their money at that rate! Wow! I am lucky I can usually get my mom to babysit! So of course my kids are always glad when we go out. They say "yeah we get to be spoiled by Mema".

Anonymous said...

I remember calling around trying to find someone to take care of you...

mom

Dawn said...

Stephenie, this was just so good and so right on!!

I have a hard time leaving my babies with ANYONE. I do okay leaving them with my mom.

Once they are about age 4 I don't mind having a babysitter. But, I still feel guilty leaving them.

sassytimes said...

Just found your blog and I love it! I am also doing the GIST. Looking forward to reading yours.