Confessions Of A Governess: You Don’t Have To Clean Up For Me, I’m Just The Babysitter

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Confessions of a Governess is a Mommyish series from the perspective of someone who gets paid to watch other people’s children. Moms, take a deep breath.

Time and time again, I’ve arrived at the house of mother at her wit’s end who — despite handling a ringing telephone and screaming toddler — manages to work in an apology for the state of her home. Her clothes are stained, her hair is tossed in a makeshift bun, and it’s quite clear from the naked runs through the kitchen that little one never made into the bath tub.

I can tell that they’ve made the effort, stacking all the newspapers in one corner or taking all the empty pots from the counter and placing them in the sink. Perhaps they originally hoped to do more — vacuum, arrange all the pillows back on the sofa, and maybe load the dishwasher. But complete exhaustion is what made them quit at the sight of the living room and just head to bed — and I don’t judge them.

In all the years I’ve been watching kids, it never ceases to astound me how much mothers apologize for having messy homes.  Perhaps they’re still sensitive from their mother-in-law’s assessment of every dish and patch of dust, but I have never expected a mother to greet me with waxed floors and clean cabinets.

I’m not a guest or the company you have to entertain with coffee table snacks and offerings of soda. I’m the babysitter. I’m there to be in the trenches with you, not complain about the surroundings. You’ve accepted me into the intimate dynamics of your family by virtue of the job and caring for children means that I’ll see a lot of the interiors of your family, including the mess.

A lot of the women I’ve worked for clearly have much more on their minds than keeping the laundry folded and the beds made. Between the stress of having a new baby, getting back to their jobs, or just managing the day-to-day demands of their families, these mothers have enough to worry about.

Being irksome about some grease on their stove would be an insult to all the other plates they’re managing to keep spinning. Now if only they would believe me when I assure them that I don’t mind the clutter.