I have to admit…this is one of those times in my life that I recognize my naivete so quickly after the fact it’s embarrassing. It’s almost too soon to chalk it up to naivete and just about qualifies for ignorance.
Even before Little Miss was born, I knew we’d have to eventually find someone to watch her when we went back to work. For months I answered questions from friends and other interested parties regarding whether or not I would have to return to the office. I always smiled and said yes, and though I wanted to be a stay-at-home (SAH) mom, I also love my job, so it’s really a win-win, right?
Perhaps I was just trying to convince myself.
At any rate, Husband remained hopeful that something would happen to change our situation enough to allow me to remain at home with our daughter while he supported us single-handedly. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, but not for lack of trying. God just wasn’t ready for us to move that direction, apparently.
With the knowledge that we’d have to identify a full-time babysitter, I reserved the last month of Husband’s paternity leave for finding that special, perfect someone to take my place as primary caregiver for Little Miss during the week.
This is where the naivete comes in.
I had no idea how out of balance the supply of and demand for child caregivers is in this area. It wasn’t until 3 weeks into my fruitless and quickly turning frantic hunt that a friend (who works for the local paper) informed me that she’d done research on it for an article a couple years back and determined that the demand for childcare was MUCH higher than the supply.
NOW she tells me. Where was she when I got pregnant, anyway? Oh, right…dealing with her own pregnancy.
Fortunately, I know people. Lots of them. And they’re mostly wonderful people. I had friends and acquaintances sending me leads on daycares, childcare givers, in-home babysitters, nannies, and all kinds of options. I got phone calls, emails, messages on Facebook and knocks on my office door. I followed up any and every lead, preferring in-home care over daycare and places with 1-2 other children to places with a dozen or more. I wanted my daughter to be treated like the special individual she is, not sat in a playpen to cry while the daycare manager dealt with a sick 2-year-old or an ornery 18-month-old. Just the idea of that makes me come close to tears.
No, my daughter is special….just like everyone else’s, I know. But I was determined to find the perfect place for her, and was preparing myself to take a few extra days off of work when Husband returned. It was a week away and still, we had nothing. Everyone I’d asked either had no more room, wasn’t accepting infants as young as Little Miss (she would have just turned 6 months when she started) or couldn’t do full-time care.
Panic began to set in. The hours were ticking by, accelerating as the minutes continued, and I didn’t know what was going to happen to my precious baby girl. Only 5 days left. Five days to find that perfect someone to take care of and protect Little Miss while Mommy and Daddy work to keep her fed, clothed and happy.
About this time, the same friend who works at the paper directed me to a local moms forum where she’d seen someone advertising babysitting. Desperate, I clicked the link, scrolled through until I found the first babysitting ad, and quickly typed an email. In my head it went something like this:
Dear Potential Weekday Mom:
I need someone perfect who can care for my darling little angel during the day when her daddy and I are at work. You must be caring, friendly, loving and a Christian, have the exact same parenting ideals I do and only be taking care of, at most, one other child. The care must take place in your own home, and I want to be aware of who will be around my daughter at any time. She can’t get hurt, be sad or lack anything while I’m at work, and can never come home sick. I never want her to cry when I drop her off, and I never want to find her crying when I come to pick her up.
My baby is special, and she must be treated as such. You must love her like I do and help her understand that though you’re not her Mommy, you are my stand-in while I’m doing what I can to build a strong and happy future for her.
If you can accept these terms, I’d love to meet you and discuss the matter.
A Sad and Panicking Working Mom
When Babysitter wrote back, I can’t describe the relief I felt. She was a Christian, she didn’t believe in TV babysitting and she only had one other child.
The Friday before Husband went back to work we went over to Babysitter’s house and met her, her husband and their darling, active little 15-month-old boy. They’re wonderful Lutheran people and I immediately clicked with Babysitter.
After an hour of chatting and watching the little guy interact with his parents, his toys and even Little Miss, I asked if she could start Monday – and would she like payment every week or once a month?
God knew what he was doing, and he knew Babysitter was out there. He just had to let me sweat a little. Why’d I wait so long to hunt her down, anyway?