I have never babysat. No one has ever said, “Hey! Will you watch my kid?” and then paid me money after I did a superb job. And, no, this isn’t because I did a terrible job. Now that I have kiddos and am part of a “mom tribe,” I have watched other people’s children with great success. But I never saw any compensation other than the promise of a returned babysitting-favor someday (which is worth its weight in gold!).
When I was younger, I was terrified of babysitting. Literally. I remember I spent about two hours watching some younger kids when I was like 16. I sweated bullets the entire time.
“Well, that’s ridiculous,” you say. “What a wuss.”
You only say that because you have the necessary genetic disposition for caring for small humans. I, on the other hand, am sadly lacking in this arena. And I know what I’m talking about, as I’m married to a geneticist.
As my friends started having babies, I gladly would take meals to their homes, but I’d politely refuse to hold their babies. And this had nothing to do with the people or their baby. I just had a deep-seated fear of tiny people. Not in a weird, phobia way, but more in an “I have no idea what I’m doing” manner.
When I was pregnant with George, I even scheduled a time for the husband and me to visit some friends who had recently had a baby. I was convinced I needed to at least hold a newborn before I gave birth to one. Who does that??
George’s diaper was the first one I ever changed. I had never even held a baby bottle before. We had taken the little newborn-care classes, and I’d read up, so we had a vague notion of how to keep an 8-pound human alive.
I just wanted to give a word of encouragement to anyone who’s thinking of having a baby or about to have their first baby. You don’t have to be the Martha Stewart of babies (is that even a thing?) to be a successful parent.
Before I had George, I remember my dad telling me that God gives babies to you as little, helpless creatures, then you kind of grow together. That’s 100% true. They don’t come out as rambunctious toddlers in need of potty training, PTL. They’re little blobby blobs who sleep a ton, and you think they’re precious. You may look back later and realize they got a LOT cuter once they gained a little heft, but you won’t know that at the time. Plus, there’s nothing like interacting and caring for your kid. It’s just different.
This morning, I tossed a few pillows on the floor for a pillow pile for Olivia. She squealed with delight, and then dove in, face first. I spent quite a long time snuggling and playing with her. It struck me that I finally feel comfortable. I mean, I’ve felt comfortable with my own kids since about day four, but I think I finally feel comfortable with other people’s kids.
Well, let me clarify. I wouldn’t be overly comfortable watching 6-year-olds. Yes, yes, if you’re a kid person, you’ll tell me that “it’s easy!” or “just talk to them!” but I’m literally the adult in the room who’s like, “Hey, what are your future hopes and dreams?” to the first grader. Awkward city.
However, if you hand me anyone 4 or below? It’s on like Donkey Kong. I can change diapers (both sexes!), help a potty-training kid (this used to terrify me), and strap any size into a car seat. I am Mama! Hear me roar!
P.S. This is NOT an invitation for you to drop your small children off at my house! But, if you’re paying, I will consider your request. *winky face*
What fears have you overcome? Any you didn’t expect to master at any age?