When observing your kids’ caregivers in action, do you ever get an inferiority complex?
I’m SAHM-ing it these days, but I swear our date night babysitter puts my parenting to shame. She’s like the Latina Mary Poppins: cheerful yet calm, confident yet flexible and seeming to possess a black belt in the parenting arts. (No, you can’t have her number.)
Here are just a few ways my babysitter is better at this than I am:
1. She creates adorable hair-do’s that I can never replicate.
2. She knows how to carve watermelons, pineapples and mangos without wasting a bite, or slicing up her own fingers. (I’m the jerk who spends double at Whole Foods for little pre-cut cubes. P.S. I also have 8 stitches in my left thumb.)
3. She somehow manages to clip Viv’s fingernails without a screaming fit, or if there is a screaming fit, I’m not there to see it.
4. She can turn anything in my refrigerator into a delicious soup that Viv loves. (See this post for our favorite Babysitter Chicken Soup recipe).
5. She leaves our place much cleaner and neater than she found it. It’s gotten the point where I’ll purposely leave a burnt pan in the sink or casually mention a disastrous junk drawer knowing that when I get home it will have been magic-wanded into submission.
6. She never ditches my kid in the middle of a hot game of peek-a-boo to send an urgent Tweet, check Facebook or jot down some ideas for her next blog.
Luckily, Viv isn’t grading by skill – she loves me just because I’m her mom. But when I measure myself up against the babysitter, sometimes I feel a bit lame.
Of course, the babysitter’s got an advantage: she’s a professional. I’m an amateur.
Before my daughter was born, I was a television producer. I chose to stop working for a while, and I feel incredibly lucky every day that I get to make that choice. But in transitioning from the office, where I mostly knew what I was doing, to the home, where I’d only ever slept and watched television, I’m realizing how domestically challenged I am.
I don’t know how to sew or remove stains. I “iron” by hanging clothes in the shower. None of this mattered before I had a daughter. Now I wonder, what happens when Viv wants to be a punk rock unicorn for Halloween? I’ll be like the Project Runway contestant who hot-glues everything and gets eliminated. God forbid she becomes a Girl Scout. Do they give merit badges for googling? I do that really well.
The irony is that I have all this higher education – a master’s degree even – but somehow never took a Home Ec class. I really wish I’d taken a Home Ec class. I know my Mom tried to teach me this stuff when I was a kid, but I was profoundly uninterested. It would have been impossible for my 12-year-old “maybe I’ll be an astronaut” self to imagine that someday, I’d think staying at home with a baby was the cat’s pajamas. I wish I knew how to make the cat’s pajamas.
I guess I’m going to have to learn on the job. Until then, let’s just pretend that stained, torn and wrinkled is the look I was going for.