In my three years as a mother, I have never once referred to the time I spend caring for my children as “babysitting.” Babysitting is something you get paid for. Babysitting is something you choose to do for reimbursement. Babysitting is caring for children, but when your genetics have made those children – it’s called “parenting.” Parenting.
My partner and I share all childcare responsibilities and admittedly it gets a little stressful at times. The most stressful time for us was when my first child was an infant and I went back to work as a waitress. For some reason, he thought those hours I was spending away from the house were some kind of super-fun-party-time for me. A typical conversation sounded like this:
Him: Am I babysitting again tonight?
Me: Are you babysitting? No, you’re not babysitting. Babysitting is what you do when the child isn’t yours. You’re parenting tonight.
Him: Okay, well it’s the fourth time I’ve done it this week.
Me: Oh, so I should cancel my dinner plans in Chelsea? Oh wait, I don’t have dinner plans in Chelsea. I have plans to serve people dinner in Brooklyn. Also known as work. At my job.
When you are both consumed with raising an infant, sometimes even when your partner is leaving the house to go to work, you can get a little envious. I know I would get antsy when he spent the whole day away on a gig. Being in a small apartment with an infant in the dead of winter is pretty claustrophobic. But I never claimed to be babysitting.
I always wanted to go stock up on some chips, cookies and nail polish and get a copy of Twilight that I could put out when I left for work with a note that said, “Have fun babysitting!” But I never had the balls. For the record, he hasn’t made the dreaded “babysitter” comment in years. It’s good to know my “death-stare” works on someone, because it sure is going to waste on my toddler.