There's no getting around it: motherhood and guilt seem to go hand-in-hand. In my experience, you start feeling guilty about the choices you make when you're pregnant, and it only intensified from that point on. To make matters worse, you eventually find yourself having to leave your child with a babysitter — for a night out, an hour at the gym, or every weekday, so you can do your damn job. And, as a result, you will inevitably learn there are questions babysitters ask that make moms feel guilty, whether they intend to or not.
Now, I am not just talking about snarky comments about using childcare in the first place. Those are completely inappropriate, sexist, and intended to make you feel like garbage. Daycare did not "raise" my kids and my baby doesn't like the nanny more than me. Besides, babysitters are part of the village that surrounds kids with love and care, right? Aren't we, as a society, constantly telling women that it takes a village? There's no shame in getting help when you need it. It's just that, well, asking for help can be a challenge, especially when the babysitter makes you feel guilty about it.
I don't think the people I trust to watch my kids for a few hours are intentionally attempting to make me feel like crap. I'm really referring to the unconscious digs about my parenting. Yes, the baby isn't wearing socks. Yes, I let my kids have screen time. Yes, I miss them when I'm not with them, but I also need to take care of myself if I have any hopes of being a good mom, and that means hiring babysitters when I work, for date nights, for trips to the gym, when I need to get sh*t done, and even for self care. I also don't appreciate comments about my house, my kids' hair not being brushed, or the state of their bedrooms. I have bigger battles to fight, and, to be honest, I am not cleaning my house just to impress a babysitter. Not gonna happen. I feel enough guilt about being a working mom and not looking at my kids every minute of every day, so the last thing I need is another person, intentionally or not, making me feel guilty.
"What's Their Doctor's Phone Number?"
It always makes me feel so guilty when I can't remember my kids' doctor's phone number when the babysitter asks. Honestly, I haven't memorized a phone number (other than mine) since 2002. And since I became a mom, I can't even remember my own half the time. So, please, be patient with me while I grab my phone and look it up. I may be a "hot mess" mom, but I get by.
"Are You Sure You're Ready To Leave Your Baby With A Sitter?"
OMG I was so not ready to leave my baby with a babysitter the first time (or honestly the first several times). I don't think any mom is really "ready" for that. So when my babysitter asked if I was OK, it made me feel like I was going against my motherly instincts. Like I "shouldn't" be leaving my baby with someone else.
Was I ready? Would she be OK? What the Hell was I thinking?
"Are You Going On Another Date Night?"
When I was a babysitter, I would've never, ever, thought to ask about the frequency at which my clients went on dates. I mean, I didn't care, it was none of my business, and their date nights meant more money for me. It was win-win. So it's weird that people question the need for parents to go out without their kids and connect with each other.
"Do You Wish You Didn't Have To Work?"
Our last nanny — a child-free grad student in her 20s — was constantly asking me how I felt about working and spending time away from my kids. She always added how she planned to have four kids and be a stay-at-home mom, which is a totally great choice, but honestly, even stay-at-home moms use babysitters. Mama needs a judgment-free break.
"Is That All You're Paying?"
I make it a point to pay the going rate to any babysitter who agrees to care for our loud and chaotic bunch. But let's be real: the cost of childcare isn't cheap, people. The last thing I need is a babysitter questioning the previously agreed upon rate at the end of the evening. Then again, I end up feeling so guilty I usually cough up the extra money.
"You Let Your Kids Watch TV?"
For the record, there's nothing wrong with screen time. As a mom, screen time has helped me get through many meal preps and long winter afternoons. Besides, I am sure the babysitter both intends to spend at least some time on their phone while they are here. I really don't appreciate the babysitter making comments about my partner and I letting our kids have screen time. I mean, if the babysitter wants to spend four hours doing crafts, singing, and reading books, more power to them.
"Do You Really Let Your Kids Drink Soda?"
Yes, we don't demonize food in our house and my partner and I both know that a little sugar once in a while won't hurt our children. Besides, if there's any time when I am OK with my kids getting sugared up, it's when they're are with a babysitter for the evening.
"Will You Be Home By Bedtime?"
Honestly, we pay a babysitter so we can eat a meal without a barrage of fart jokes and food thrown on the floor. We spend the money so we can go out to a movie that doesn't include animated characters, Legos, or princesses. So, no, we probably won't make it home before the kids need to go to bed. For once, we would like to run on our own time, and not be beholden to our children's schedules.
It's a good thing there are awesome babysitters available for hire.
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