Bored Housewives Network

Getting through the day, one bonbon at a time.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Why getting a new babysitter is not unlike going into pon'farr

Our first week with our new babysitter has come to its conclusion, and the conclusion is: two thumbs way up!

Even though my maternity leave doesn't end for another three weeks, I wanted to make the transition as easy and unstressful as possible for both me and Sam. Despite wanting a decent buffer period, however, I still procrastinated way too long before looking for childcare. I won't list my reasons for procrastinating -- most of them founded in anxiety -- because I'm sure almost all of you have been there or are there right now, so I'm not telling you anything you don't already know. But still. Anxiety. Gut-wrenching, waking-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-in-a-panic anxiety. It blows.

As I'm finding with so many things to do with parenting, the anticipation was much worse than the actuality. (Heeey... maybe being a parent will teach me Valuable Life Lessons! There's a thought!) When I realized I couldn't stall any longer, I posted my ad in a couple of places, and good old Craigslist delivered. Despite my somewhat vaguely worded requirements, I received a dozen or so responses and my spotty faith in humanity was restored when none of them were overtly nutbars. I did the back-and-forth email thing with a few people, did a couple of phone interviews, and -- praise the lord -- hit paydirt with the first person I interviewed in my home. Somebody pinch me! This must be a dream!

The main reason I like her is, not to put too fine a point on it, because she's a lot like me. More than ten years younger, yes, but still quite similar. Because as I mentioned to Kris once, all we want for our babies is a caregiver who can provide them with almost exactly the same brand of love and care we do... but of course without them ever winning our babies' affections as thoroughly as we have. Is that so unreasonable, I ask you?

Happy ending aside, this process has made me mentally revisit every conflicted-mom-and-nanny op-ed piece Salon has ever published and made me -- once again -- realize that when it comes to pregnancy and parenthood, I'm not the special, adorably unique creature I once thought I was. Those Salon moms and I? We have a lot in common. And now I want to go back and track down every person who's ever written a letter to Salon in response to those stories, letters reviling these moms and suggesting that they keep their "trivial", "privileged", "middle-class" problems to themselves, and I want to write them each a letter telling them to shut the fuck up.

I mean, seriously, anyone who thinks that the fears and concerns and psychological upheaval surrounding entrusting your tiny, innocent, trusting child to the care of another human being are trivial? Well, that person has probably never been a mom. When it comes to this issue, there is stuff going on in my mind and body that are beyond all ability to reason with, starting with, oh, the fact that every primitive instinct I have is constantly yelling at full volume, "KEEP BABY NEAR AT ALL TIMES!" To get to the point where I can blithely (or, let's be honest, fake blithely) say to another person, "Oh, sure, why don't you just put Sam in his stroller and go to the park. Have fun!" requires me to program over some pretty powerful biological imperatives. This has been a tough pill to swallow. Before I got pregnant, I didn't even realize I had biological imperatives. I thought those were things other people struggled with, while I, on the other hand, had nothing but cool Vulcan logic on my side. It's been humbling, let me tell you. When it comes to Sam's wellbeing, I'm still a lot like a Vulcan... at pon'farr.*

But as I mentioned, I'm really happy with Sam's new friend. She's sweet and calm and creative and fun. I can tell that he likes her a lot, which I reassure her of frequently, since he still tends to seek me out every twenty minutes or so. That's cool. It's a process, building this new relationship, both for me and for Sam. But we'll get there, and maybe we'll even learn a few more Valuable Life Lessons along the way.

*In case I'm the only nerd in the house, "pon'farr" is the time of mating, when the stoically logical Vulcans pay for their rigid control by experiencing a period of total emotional abandon. It gets pretty messy.


  • At 6:52 PM, Blogger landismom said…

    First, let me thank you for defining "pon'farr." Second, let me bow to your superior nerd-hood. Third, let me congratulate you for finding a good babysitter that you're happy with. That's great!

    And you're totally right, it's very hard to deal with the anxiety of leaving your baby with someone else. No one should belittle that as a middle-class concern. What, like working-class women (and men) don't worry? They just leave their kids sanguinely? Outrageous!

  • At 7:06 PM, Blogger Melissa said…

    I also have to thank you for defining "pon'farr," since I am the prototypical illogical human that Vulcans find so baffling.

    It is really hard at first (and this from someone who only has a babysitter come for a couple of hours a day!). But just the other day I was thinking how grateful I was to have someone else to help me take care of A. I think it's good for kids to learn to trust and love people outside the family.

    I think you're dodging the real issue here, which is whether you will be able to devote the same time and attention to your blogs once you're back at work. It's all about us, you know!

  • At 11:47 AM, Blogger Nicole Steeves said…

    Good luck returning to the outside world! My girl is six months, and I occasionally make mention of returning to my career...someday. But it feels so heartbreakingly sad to think about that, not just because I am not thrilled about looking for childcare, but because it seems like step one in the long, inevitable march towards distance between me and my baby. I love my own mother very much, and she loves me. But it has been a long time since I was the top day-to-day priority in her life. As I am almost 30, that is for the best and would be weird if it were otherwise. But, oh, how it saddens me to imagine a time when my girl will have enough of me from weekly phone calls, or that I will be completely satisfied with my life not utterly wrapped up in hers, content to check in occasionally.

  • At 4:10 PM, Blogger Tammy said…

    All bow before me for I am QUEEN OF THE NERDS!

    Melissa, since my motto in this past year has become "I blog, therefore I am," I'm hoping to keep givin' 'er both here and over on 50 Books. And get this: the mister and I are launching a blog together in a couple of weeks, and we're considering launching yet another one at an undetermined future date. More details as they become available!

    Nicole, you are one thousand percent right, but you're bringing me down, sister! Fortunately, Kris dug up a statistic that made me realize that I WILL be glad when Sam moves out on his own eventually: the fact that some improbably crazy number of twenty-something males boomerang back to their parents' home. Young women, it would seem, are much more sensible and get out and stay out. The thought of my grown son living in my basement is definitely a reality check. Heh.


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