The first part of a kid's life, it's all hands on deck. It's go-go gadget-every-part-of-your-entire-being, with round-the-clock obligations. You're sure you'll feel more relaxed once they can hold their head up, but now they just have a head that can thud onto tile floors. It'll be easier when they can crawl, you think, but now they can roll right off the bed and into that open manhole cover. But surely once they walk it'll be a breeze, you swear, and then you find yourself acting as a human shield everywhere you go to prevent the inevitable dive into a swimming pool or tumble down an escalator.
Then they hit around 2 years old, and it all seems relatively easier to deal with. They still run about the world with no regard for safety like they're on bath salts or something, but at least you both do get your sea legs, no one fell into a manhole cover and you're getting the hang of this constant attention business. The problem is, you are so used to this constant attention business that you forget that you could maybe take a break everyone once in a while.
My husband and I have realized we are Those People: People who have a 2-year-old but no babysitter. We still take turns going out individually at night when we make plans with friends; we never plan anything socially months in advance, like New Year's or book clubs. Whether we are just nitpicky parents who refuse to believe anyone is good enough for our little snookums or hyper-protective helicopter types (same thing?), either way, when it comes a Friday night, don't even bother calling.
Every parent is different about this stuff. Some people have babysitters lined up at the hospital, and other real people I do actually know have not left their kid with anyone other than one grandparent one time for the kid's whole life so far, and the kids are almost out of elementary school. Who is to say what is best for your kid (uh, besides everyone you'll ever meet, plus strangers)?
For us, it's partly the fact that we went out constantly our entire adult lives so we know we aren't missing anything, but also good old-fashioned new parent jitters I guess. We are plain old fraidy cats about it. The world is a big, scary monster-faced place if you think about it. Especially if you think about it. You: Try not to think about it! Me: That's exactly what a scary monster face would say!
That said, I think we are almost sorta ready to get a babysitter, maybe once. At least, I know it's probably fine and we should go ahead, so why don't we just take the plunge already? Excellent question.
- Money. It costs too much. Correction, it costs too waaay tooo fucking much if you pay well for it, which you should. True, it's not an exciting reason to hang your hat of homebody-ism on, but it is precisely where our threadbare hat is hanging for the time being. Even though people are always like "Trust, me, it's worth it!" and "You won't regret it!" and "Do it for your sanity!" and "Is it really that much?" we think that on this side of the evening it's impossible to feel like any one movie is really worth $150 bucks all costs considered, i.e., worried, fun-interrupting nervousness and the feeling that you left something really important at home. (Also, it better be one helluva movie wherein my entire life is validated with fun escapism, excellent dialog, an all-star cast, real-life truths and a sense of humility for how small we are in the universe. Plus it's gotta be super funny. And it can't be that popular in the mainstream sense. OK, so Moonrise Kingdom is in theaters, I get it. You think I don't wanna go, too? I just don't have a babysitter. My baby is my Rushmore, Max!)
- Jerry Sandusky. Or what Jerry Sandusky represents in the world. Honestly, I'm still sick about it and nothing even happened to me.
- People are well-meaning liars. By this I mean that even people who aren't going to do anything all that bad to your baby still probably try to make it seem like things are better than they are because they don't want to look bad. I almost hate this gray area of truth we all operate in more than outright lies. And then you have to make the person agree to tell you the truth about what the baby really did or said or ate or stuck in her ear, and even then you still don't really know if they are telling the truth or if they just sat there all night reading your journal from 10th grade and then started a Tumblr about it. This is annoying to me. I absolutely must be the first person to start a Tumblr about my 10th grade journal.
- It's scary. My baby is still not the best sleeper, and if she wakes up to a stranger she'll be all upset and it might be really scary. Sure, it's all my fault because I haven't taught her to wake up to a variety of clowns, dogs and/or randos who won't harm her like some baby sleep-training version of Operation Wolf or whatever, which is why I'm the one staying in on Friday night.
- It takes too long. It takes so long to get to know the potential babysitter person. Finding the right babysitter is not just a fun montage of interviews where someone says exactly the right one trustworthy, ethical sentence and then you hire them and it all works out perfectly, like in Baby Boom or The Omen. You have to hang out a bunch and talk and get to know each other and actually try, all things I have no genuine desire to do with most people, let alone a babysitter.
- Trust Issues? Fine, I have trust issues!
- But I'm justified? But even if I do have trust issues, I'm still right about the lying. Both kinds!
- Too lazy. OK, I haven't even looked one time for a babysitter yet, it's true. The only reason I'm OK with the kid going to daycare is because we did an informal poll of 12 other sets of parents who basically said it was OK. We are essentially crowdsourcing trust here.
- Confession: I just don't want to leave my baby alone with a stranger yet, OK? I'm the one who isn't ready OK?! The baby would probably have fun! Fine! I ADMIT IT!
- But I could spy? Two words. Nanny cams.
- But trust issues? But my friend said if you want to use a nanny cam doesn't that mean you already don't trust the person in which case why would you hire them anyway? (See earlier thing about liars.)
Seriously, Moonrise Kingdom will be on iTunes soon enough. It's not going to change my life or anything. Or is it? Because if you say it's going to change my life I might seriously get a babysitter just this once. Maybe for a matinee?
Tracy Moore is a writer living in Los Angeles who likes staying in with her baby. Please go to her Twitter @iusedtobepoor if any of this makes you irrationally angry because it gives her something to do on a Friday night.
Image via iofoto/Shutterstock.