“I don’t want you to pick me up at school today!”
It was the way she uttered the word you that struck me. A verbal scab I couldn’t help but pick.
Me: “Why not?”
My daughter: “Because I like it when Skylar picks me up.”
Me: *Silence* … Except for the sound of my heart breaking.
Of course she likes our Skylar, who wouldn’t? Our babysitter is young and fun and cool as hell. But that moment wasn’t about Skylar. It was about my worst fear coming true and all I could think was “Usurper!!”
As a stay-at-home-and-work-from-there-sometimes-mom (SAHAWFTSM?), it took me quite a while to reconcile with the concept of a babysitter. What right did I have to need childcare when I was there and available to my child? And yet, what right did I have to take precious time with my child and work during it? A win-win or a lose-lose, depending on my mood.
Eventually, I realized that sitting on the computer next to your child is not the same as being there with your child. Yes, I could prevent any major catastrophe from happening, but I was not engaged, I was distracted.
So with baby #2 on the way, I decided it was finally time to take the plunge. I anticipated a lengthy search for the right person, but by some stroke of luck, a friend of a friend had Skylar filling in for her normal sitter while she was away.
When we met her, it was obvious she was the one. A bundle of energy wrapped in a ray of sunshine, with a little sarcasm thrown in to appeal to my better nature. My daughter fell for her instantly and I wasn’t far behind.
Best of all, she would be available in a month’s time. Just long enough for me to get used to the idea.
Knowing that my girl was in capable hands, but that she didn’t view it as a punishment or a consolation when Mommy couldn’t be around, was a huge relief. I was able to reclaim a few hours of my week, and as a bonus, when my work was done or my errands completed, I was able to chat with another adult. Someone young who, truth be told, made me feel younger than the normal route of school drop-offs and trips to the grocery store did.
But then, this morning, it happened. Skylar surpassed me, as the preference for after-school fun. And why wouldn’t she? I give them money, so when Skylar picks up my daughter, they can always go somewhere new and fun for lunch. As opposed to when I pick her up and head home for a very familiar presentation of turkey, cheese, hummus, cucumbers, and pita bread … again. Skylar takes her to the park, to the carousel, climbing snow mounds, or just singing Frozen on her iPhone at the diner. I rush us home because I’m cold and tired and the park is wet, the carousel is out of our way, the snow mounds are dangerous, and if I sing Frozen one more time, I might be committed. I created this situation: miracle or monster.
Now let’s take a reality time-out: I found a spirited, fun, and funny young lady who genuinely enjoys teaching, playing, and laughing with my daughter. My daughter equally relishes their time together.
What in the world makes me think it’s okay to feel bad about this for even a second?
My daughter is nearly 4 and has no way of understanding how her declaration could hurt me, but it did. It hurt my feelings. What about me? I’m the one that’s here at all hours. I bring her water in the middle of the night and put up with tantrums in the street. I respond to: “I want that to be my yogurt” the only way I know how … by handing over my yogurt.
How low does my self-esteem have to be that this would upset me for even a second? How silly am I that I would sulk all morning about it? Despite many attempts at thickening my skin over the years, this tot took me down with one swift comment.
One part of me wishes I could just have Skylar pick her up every day. It would give me more time to work and would give her what she wants, but unfortunately I can’t. Another small selfish part of me wants to find someone horrible that my daughter will never prefer over me. But thankfully, the rest of me realizes how ridiculous that is.
My daughter is happy, Skylar is happy. My feelings are bruised, but I will recover. I spent 3.5 years as top dog (well, if I’m being honest with myself, a very close second to Daddy). It was fun while it lasted. I know I’m being irrational even allowing my feelings to be hurt … and yet.
I always knew Skylar was fun, I guess I just never really wanted to hear it as a direct comparison to our relationship.
Ridiculous, I know. Not at all something to worry about, but it stopped me in my tracks this morning and made me try a little harder this afternoon. It made me value the time we do get to spend together. It made me soak up the love and adoration in the smile my baby son gives me. It made me realize how very lucky I am. Maybe it was worth it after all.
Have you ever been jealous of the babysitter?More On