When it comes to childcare, I'm #blessed. Since my kids were born I've always lived near family members who've made it clear they're ready, willing, and able to watch the little ones. But I don't want to impose too much on other people's kindness (even if they are family), so I have an my amazing babysitter who fills in the gaps when assorted grandparents and uncles need a break. But the moms who shame me for hiring a babysitter don't always make it easy to lean on someone outside my family, even though I know it's the best decision for me and mine.
Thankfully, these moms are very much in the minority. The vast majority of parents I know are all about babysitters and realize that a good one is worth their weight in gold. When I tell another parent I got a babysitter for the afternoon/morning/night and the first response is usually that person desperately grabbing me by the shirt and demanding their name and number... metaphorically, of course. And I'm happy to oblige, because my babysitter is fantastic and deserves all the business. But, of course, there are those people who ruin everything, and sadly those people aren't always easy to ignore.
These people are why we can't have nice things. They are the super-soldiers in the Mommy Wars; those parents who have internalized the idea that there is one right away to be a mother (their way, obviously) and if you don't make the same choices they do, did, or would, then you're a monster who should be judged and shamed.
So with that in mind, here are some of the things this small but very vocal minority have tried (and failed) to make me feel bad for hiring a babysitter:
Share Horror Stories That May Or May Not Even Be True
"Well did you hear about the babysitter who was actually a Satanic ax murderer? Yeah, mom wanted a date night and left her precious little ones with this person who seemed perfectly fine, but as soon as she was gone they were performing demonic rituals and drinking human blood!"
OK, so no one ever personally gave me a horror story like that, but, honestly, I wouldn't put it past some people. I did hear stories about negligent sitters who "sat on their phone the whole time" and let the children run amok. Or others who invited friends over and raided the liquor cabinet. Could that happen? Sure. Will it happen? Probably not. So stop and just let me enjoy my night out, please? Without guilt and almost certainly needless worry? Thanks.
"They're Not Little For Long"
I got this a lot from some people. They'd basically imply that these early years, years that require a babysitter, are so fleeting you shouldn't miss any of it.
I'm sorry, but I don't want to wait years to have a life outside of my children. Honestly, I feel like you forget how to have a life outside of your children without regular practice. Yes, they're only little for so long and in the grand scheme of things it's a blip, but so is a goddamn evening out. It's important to maintain a well-balanced life.
"Well *I* Could Never Someone Else Watch *My* Child"
Subtext: "What's wrong with you that you could allow such a thing, you defective woman and mother?"
Perhaps you don't feel comfortable hiring someone else to watch your child. And hey, that's OK! No one is making you use the services of a babysitter or nanny. But this comment is not judgment free if you're telling that fact to someone who can, obviously, let someone else watch their child. At the very least it comes across as judgmental and, if you're being honest, it almost certainly is judgmental. This is one of those things that, if true, you just keep to yourself, at least in the context of someone else hiring a sitter.
Second-Guess Babysitter's Qualifications
One mom I talked to was horrified that my babysitter was in high school. How could I possibly leave my children with such an irresponsible human? Why didn't I choose a professional with a degree in early childhood development and a PhD in nutrition who also had EMT experience in case of emergencies?
Because it's a couple hours out of their day and I'm pretty sure this absolute treasure of a teenager is capable of playing with toys and serving some macaroni and cheese in my absence without major incident.
(Also, she's CPR certified. I'm not CPR certified!)
"But Do You *Need* To Go Out?"
Yes. Next question.
Side-Eye Frequency Of Going Out
"Didn't you just go out?"
Whether or not I just went out is besides the point. I hardly see how regular outings that require regularly hiring a babysitter is a point of contention. You know who doesn't mind it at all? My kids! You know, the little humans who regularly ask when the babysitter is coming over "to play." They don't even really see it as babysitting! They see it as a play date with a cool older kid.
Make A Long-Winded Speech About Sacrifice
I once got an oblique but obviously pointed rant about how being a mother meant forgoing what you wanted to do for what you have to do. "You know when you sign up it's not all fun and games. Tough it out and deal with it. Some people can't even have children."
OMG are you serious right now?
Yes, obviously parenting often includes no small amount of sacrifice, but it doesn't require full-blown martyrdom!
"I'd Rather Be With My Entire Family!"
Subtext: "I love my children more than you love yours."
You know what? Fine. OK. Believe that. That's cool. I don't care. Let's just say I don't love my children as much as you love yours. You're hellbent on this being some kind of contest, so since it means so much to you I'll just let you win.
(Actually it's because I don't have to prove anything to you and I'm not interested in even trying. The only way to win the Mommy Wars is not to play.)
"I'd Just Miss Them Too Much"
You know the babysitter doesn't keep them, right? Your kids are there when you get back.
"I Guess The Problem With Me Is That I Realize Everything That Could Happen."
Subtext: "I care about my kids and you don't."
Look, I fully recognize that some people have anxiety that leads them to thoughts they know are irrational but can't shake. I'm not talking about those people, for whom I have sympathy. Because you can be worried (even when you know you "shouldn't" be) and keep it to yourself and it's just a personal worry. When you apply your concerns (or, more accurately, "concerns") to someone else's business you let other people know you're not-so-secretly judging them.
Suggest You Include Your Child In Plans
No. I'm not wasting a good restaurant on someone who is going to cry that they don't serve french fries.
Bringing It Up In A Way They Think Is Slick But Is Painfully Obvious
Because OMG these people think they're so subtle and they never, ever are. We know exactly what you mean and who you're talking about, Becky.