Being a journalist, I read tons of awful crap in the news every day. So, now that I am a mom, I am on high alert for anything. I am a worrier by nature, so you can imagine my frantic thoughts about crib death, choking, child-seat safety, armed robbers and pedophiles, just to name a few. You would think I was a basket case; I swear I am drug free.
Over the weekend, my husband shared a story about how when he was young, his seemingly sweet neighbor watched him and his siblings as well as other children from the neighborhood. But once the door closed and the parents gone, she was verbally abusive and would make him stand in a corner all day for really no reason at all. It wasn’t until the devil woman watched an older kid when parents got an idea of what was going on and took action. You can imagine my horror after hearing this story. What if something worse happened? I love my baby sitter. Can I trust her? Can I trust anyone who watches my daughter?
A parent’s trust is not easy to come by or earn, so I was heartbroken recently when my babysitter of nearly 2 ½ years told me she was moving out of town. I had found her on Care.com, and I was instantly drawn to her after we met in person. She has been like another grandmother to our daughter and a friend and mother-like figure for me. I will miss our chats about men, life and bodily functions (she is a retired nurse), you name it. She would bring us some of her famous southern food and we would shower her with gifts on any occasion to let her know how much she was appreciated.
Bummed out, I placed an ad on Care.com again, and some of the caregivers’ requests and expectations on there were laughable. One woman asked me what she should do with my child while my husband and I are at work. I thought, “Um, if you don’t know, lady, then you shouldn’t be watching kids!” I was polite to her though I’m sure I couldn’t help the look of WTF on my face. Of course, she didn’t make the cut. Another woman told me she didn’t like to hold babies that much. She was a retired prison guard. Yeah, she was not my ideal sitter. I got my hopes up when a former daycare worker applied. Her resume seemed perfect, until I called her references. Make that attempted to call her references. Every phone number listed was disconnected or I got no answer – even two weeks later. I was beginning to feel discouraged.
The next wave of interviewees was fantastic. Yay, I don’t have to quit my job! The interviews were so good I actually had a hard time choosing. One woman was a college student who I had seen watching other children at the park we frequent. I knew she was gold. Ultimately, I chose a woman whose references were stellar, and she has two daughters, one who just started school and another about a year old. I thought it would be great for my daughter to enjoy their company and friendship – she only needs a sitter 12 hours a week, thank goodness. My wallet couldn’t handle much more. I don’t know how parents without family close by manage to afford day care or full-time care for their kids. Our new baby sitter is crafty and energetic; I really like her. We made another great choice.
So, although Ms. Jackie is leaving us this week, the parting is bittersweet. She will become a great treasure for the new family for whom she will care, lucky bastards. We’ll keep in touch with her though. She could never be replaced in our hearts.
UPDATE: We bought a bigger family vehicle this week. I stayed strong and am proud of myself. My husband was already set on a minivan, but I changed his mind. So did the vehicle we bought – a Toyota Highlander.