My Babysitter Knows All My 'Bad Parenting' Secrets, But She Doesn't Judge (I Hope)

I'm not one to care much about what other people think of me. Unless, that is, you're talking about my sitter. I very much wonder what she thinks of me, especially since she often sees me at my worst.

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Our sitter knows that I'm forgetful. Her usual morning refrain: "You forgot your phone/umbrella/keys/head!" At times, she's the one who reminds me that I need to send in a form for a school trip.

Our sitter knows that sometimes the kids get on my nerves, especially when I have just walked in the door from work and I'm confronted with an urgent request from my 9-year-old like, "Mommy! I really want to get a candy wrapper necklace kit, can we look at Amazon?" and I snap, "Um, can you give me a minute to put down my stuff?"

Our sitter has heard me hiss at my husband, "I can't stay home from work today to take him to the pediatrician, YOU have to."

Our sitter has seen my kids glued to the TV like zombies when she walks in the door in the morning, because I'm codependent on my TV sitter until the human version arrives.

Our sitter knows that I'm a total slacker about making beds. 

Our sitter knows that my best culinary skill is finding good takeout. 

Our sitter knows I sometimes neglect to stay on top of my kids' homework. Sample text I've received at work: "Ellen, I found a homework sheet for Max lying under his bed and it appears to be due tomorrow. Shall I help him with it?" 

Yes, she is rather awesome, and yes, I am sometimes not. And she knows it. 

The sitter/mom relationship is a weird and wondrous thing. She is my employee and yet we consider her family -- especially the kids. As someone who works for me, I want her to see my best side. As someone who is an integral part of our clan, however, she sees the same stuff that my husband and children see: A mom who gets stressed, overloaded, distracted, desperate, and who at times really needs a break.  

Our sitter has never once said anything negative about my parenting, or even thrown a dubious glance my way, which of course only makes me more curious about what's going through her head.

Why do I even care? I've come to the conclusion that I have nobody or nothing else in my life to tell me whether I'm doing this parenting job right. Parents don't get report cards, and if we did, I'd probably fail "promptness." There's no app for that. Relying on the kids' POV is useless, especially when they utter nonhelpful phrases such as, "You're the worst mom ever." (Hopefully, they will not inscribe that on my tombstone.)

I'm hardly the only mom with nanny paranoia, as is evident when friends and I discuss the phenomenon. "Once, my kid said to our sitter, 'Before you came over, Mommy and Daddy were yelling at each other!' and I was horrified," recalls a friend. "Forget potty mouth, I don't want my kids to be a parent tattletale! I pretty much want to look perfect to her." 

The nannies and sitters in our lives are the only people who have an objective handle on our parenting. And so, I can't help but muse on -- or fear -- how mine judges me ... with thoughts she keeps on the inside.

 

Image via Lili Viera de Carvalho/Flickr

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