Friday, May 16, 2008
You see, I was a nanny. Although back in the day I called myself a 'babysitter.' Today I think "babysitter" is considered Politically Incorrect. Being called a Nanny seems so much more glamorous. More refined. As if getting puked on, changing smelly diapers and wearing somebody's graham cracker schmutz on the front of your t-shirt, is glamorous.
I really enjoyed being a babysitter. I babysat for many, many families, but I had a couple of families that I baby sat for on an exclusive basis. The "C" family was my Friday night gig. From the time I got my drivers license at 16, until the summer I met The Mister, I was there.
I knew that The Mister was The One, because he was the only guy worth giving up the Friday Night Gig.
The other family I babysat for, was the "A" family. This was the family whom I could say I was more of a "nanny", only because I was there several days a week, with more time in the summer and when Mr. and Mrs. A travelled.
I loved these families. Mrs. A and Mrs C both invested in me much, much more than the going rate of $6.oo an hour (which was a lot back in the day!) They were generous financially, and personally.
I learned a lot from them. Most of which I didn't realize until after I was a Mom.
I have had a love of babies and kids that goes way back, and I can say, without any doubt, that I was a good babysitter. I am sure that there were times that I did things, or said things, that were annoying (like the water fight I instigated with the "C" children during bath time one evening...as a mother I would have had a conniption!)
I am grateful that I had the nanny/babysitting experience because it did prepare me for the practical matters of motherhood: the scheduling; the learning curve on how to be prepared. I got a taste of the hard work of being a mom.
I also got to leave at the end of the day.
Which made it all seem incredibly easy.
There also wasn't any emotional ties to my 'mothering'. I loved these kids, but I didn't have a mother's worries. I didn't have the baggage of wondering if my babysitting skills were going to make these children well adjusted, successful adults. I didn't have the mind of a Mother. Although I didn't know that I didn't know.
I remember taking the four "A" girls to the pool (by myself). It was an amazing pool with a great shallow area. The two youngest girls were about three years old. The youngest child, who couldn't swim apart from the orange floaties that hung on her arms, didn't want to be in the shallow end. I couldn't safely watch four girls, with limited swimming abilities, in the deep end. I was unaware that a stand off was brooding.
She decided, in three year old fashion, to spend the entire two hour visit, crying and protesting on the side of the pool. If she couldn't swim in the deep end, she just wouldn't swim.
As the nanny, I wasn't the slightest bit un-nerved. It was black or white. If she wanted to throw a fit on the side of the pool instead of swimming, then by all means, do so.
As a mom I would have been mortified. Should we go home? Should I take her to the bathroom for "chat"? Is her crying bothering people around us trying to relax? Do people think I am a failure as a mom? The worries go on and on.
Things were easier as a babysitter because I had a job. I was given a task, and I was going to accomplish it. One strong-willed three year old wasn't going to get in my way!
Thus, The List was born. The List of all the things I wasn't going to do in parenthood.
(The List is not compiled based on Mrs. C's or Mrs. A's parenting, just what my young mind saw collectively in ALL my babysitting experiences.)
I was never going to bribe, or spank, or yell. I was never going allow a TV in the car, or make separate meals for my kids. I was never going to drive all over town looking for that elusive toy/doll/etc. I was never going to say 'no' to creative things like finger paint, or shaving cream, or water play. I wasn't going to be worried about boiling baby bottles, the dishwasher would be just fine. The list goes on and on...
My children would be perfect. Because I knew it all.
Until it happened to me...
I remember being in the frozen food isle one evening during these nannying, unmarried, and childless years. There was a young mom looking at frozen peas with her toddler having a full, emotional blow-out. He was kicking and crying on the floor. Her 1 year old was in the front seat of the cart, wailing with her arms out to the mother. The cart was full of groceries, and this Mom was saying "OK, we're almost done. We're all-most done."
I'm certain she wasn't talking to the kids as much as she was consoling herself.
I remember watching her and thinking, "She needs to get control of her kids."
Fast forward about 8 years.
I was standing in the frozen food section. Looking at frozen peas. The Boy, a toddler, was having a blow-out of epidemic proportions. The Girl, a 12 month old, was crying from exhaustion (and probably hunger) in the cart, which was overflowing with groceries.
In that one moment, I realized, I was that woman.
I realized the importance of never saying never.
Because, y'all, what goes around, comes around. Every. Single. Time.
Of course, now, we do have a TV in the car; I totally bribe my children; yes, I have spanked them; I did spend an entire week calling stores and driving around Dallas/Fort Worth looking for that elusive Billy Blazes Rescue Hero. I have totally cooked a separate meal for the kids; and I have been known to hide the play-dough, finger paint and shaving cream so that I didn't have to clean the mess.
I must say, that I have NEVER yelled at, or lost patience with, my kids.
Of course I have.
Parenting is such a hard task; Such a wonderful, bittersweet, complicated journey, isn't it? There are many choices; so much to sift through. There are personalities, and philosophies, and practicalities.
Our decisions may be different, but our hopes are the same: To raise our children well.
If you're a young mom, or a new mom, or about to be a mom, I encourage you to Never say Never. There will come a day when you realize that maybe, just maybe, your "Never!" will look like an "Absolutley!"
And you'll eat far less crow than me.
La Vida Dulce!
Posted by Kellie A at 9:01 AM