Why I'm Jealous of the Babysitter

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When my daughter Indiana was around 4 months old, I hired a babysitter, and hit the jackpot of all babysitters -- off Craigslist, no less -- or so I thought at first. Claudia was a 30-something artist from Peru, and she was sweet, responsible, and fluent in English and Spanish (the latter of which she was to speak exclusively with my daughter). Indiana quickly came to adore her, and most times, I felt lucky to have such a loving, amazing individual in my daughter's life. Still, there were certain times when a far uglier emotion welled up: jealousy.


Since I worked at home in an office, I could easily overhear what Claudia and Indiana were up to in the living room. At first, I was surprised -- and relieved -- that my daughter didn't cry, or try to bang down my door. Instead, I heard my daughter babbling contentedly as Claudia baby-talked up a storm in Spanish, or giggling as Claudia gave her sloppy raspberries during diaper changes. Indy was happy. Like, really happy.

She didn't miss me one bit.

And that's a GOOD thing! I'd have to remind myself. After all, I needed to get work done. Still, overhearing their endless stream of back-and-forth banter felt a bit like I was listening to my husband have sex with another woman: every cell in my body wanted to burst out my office, march over to the twosome, grab my daughter and growl, "She's MINE. Get out!"

Then I'd calm down and remind myself of how lucky I was to have such a great babysitter. What did I want -- a cold, mean babysitter my daughter was desperate to avoid? Of course not. Nor did I want to quit my writing gig and watch my daughter myself all day, or leave the house to work at a café. So, as excruciating as it was to hear that lovefest going on in the next room, this was as good as it was going to get.

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But the jealous pangs became truly unbearable one day when Claudia announced during lunch, "I think Indy said her first word: mas." That means "more" in Spanish.

I should have been overjoyed to hear this news. After all, we'd hired a Spanish-speaking sitter to teach our daughter Spanish, and clearly Claudia had done a superb job. Yet at that moment, part of me wanted to grab a knife, tear Claudia's heart out of her body, and fry it up for lunch, since that's what I felt she'd just done to me.

This emotional tug-of-war continued inside me for about a year, at which point I decided to place my daughter in daycare to get her more socialized. Yet even then, Claudia would swing by just to say hi, and my daughter's eyes would light up as if a rock star had entered the room. Did my daughter ever act that excited to see me? Nope. Harumph. 

Consider this a warning to all moms who pray that they, too, will find an amazing babysitter: they are double-edged swords. One moment, you will want to kiss her for taking such good care of your baby. The next, you will want to throttle her for nuzzling your baby's neck, or kissing her plump cheek. You will love her, and you will hate her. She will make you wonder every day: Does my baby love her more than me?

At one point, Claudia -- amazing babysitter that she was -- intuited how I felt, and said exactly what I needed to hear.

"You know she loves you most of all, right?"

Deep, deep, deep down, I did.

Do you have a tough time with the love your kids have for your sitter?


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