It took me four months to allow someone that is not family to look after my son. My concerns were threefold. One, I was worried that they would not look after him well. I imagined a sitter reading a book or on her phone, just rocking his stroller, while he caked in the sun, until he screamed from the screeching stains of his diaper. In particular I was worried - in fact - let’s call a spade a spade- freaking the fuck out - that he would not be cleaned and changed adequately and would get a urinary tract infection. I know that when anyone in the family watches him, we watch him like hawks and surgically clean him, knowing that we cannot risk a UTI as for him this may lead to a kidney infection due to his reflux. Besides, even if we didn’t have to worry about kidney failure, how could anyone love him as much as his family? Second, I understood getting a babysitter as failing in being a mother. Currently, as I am working part time, I understand my “job” as looking after my son and from that perspective, I understood hiring a babysitter as failing in this employ. What kind of mother am I to leave my son with a stranger? Third - and closely connected to the second reason - as I work from home, I thought that I should be able to work and look after my kid.
I stubbornly held on to my resolve, so much so, that my husband made an urbansitter account and made an ad for me. Once some girls responded, he asked me to only have a look at their profiles. Concomitantly, I was breaking down in my attempt to work and look after my son at the same time. I would nurse through conference calls (still do!) and go through my weapons of mass diversion. Drafting was more difficult, however. I needed both hands to type and I could never completely focus on an agreement or on a motion, even if he was asleep, knowing that he would wake up in half an hour and wondering if he was OK. In my attempt at diverting Luca so I could work, we bought a series of contraptions, so that the living room looked like an interior playground, until we found one that he enjoyed for a longer period. Even with the help of my inanimate sitter, I had trouble working. I felt guilty working and not playing with him and it would shatter my heart in bleeding shards when I glanced over and saw him look at me. At other times, he would be completely preoccupied with his bouncer - swinging to and fro (he loves the standing ones, hates the sitting ones) and spinning the wheels in front of him or chewing on a grainy animal beside him - and I would be entranced, watching him. How can a parent not be enamored watching the first activities of their child? What is his little brain thinking right now as it spins the wheel? Spin, spin! At last, I caved in.
The first time a sitter came, I was so nervous that I didn’t go anywhere and consequently got no work done. The poor girl. I watched her like a hawk and introduced her to the rules of the house - how to put on cotton diapers. To wash him after he poops. How to prepare the bottle etc etc I also chatted with her when he was sleeping and by talking to her and seeing her play with him, I saw what a great person and sitter she was- she really seemed to have such a great time with Luca! - that I was comfortable enough to leave and work elsewhere the next time and actually got a lot done. Having a sitter has been a saving grace. I am getting my work done and not falling behind and I have even take some time for myself, using the time the sitter is there to go to yoga and my bar classes. The house is cleaner and I can clean while the sitter plays with Luca too. Most importantly, even though I have less time with Luca, I have more quality time with him as I can actually focus on just him and enjoy being with him when we are together instead of constantly fielding calls from clients and opposing counsel and dangling a toy in front of him as I focus on my screen and my call, working for my client and not for my son.