By Sarah Hosseini of www.SarahHosseini.com
The floors are fragrant and glistening — i.e., they just got the once over with the Swiffer. The granite countertops are shining, and the freshly baked blueberry muffins are sitting on a pristine pastel, mint green cake platter.
I check my breath by blowing hot, steamy air from the back of my throat into my hands.
I take a deep whiff.
Gross. Just so gross. Coffee breath all the way.
I’ve got three minutes. Lemme go upstairs, do a little brush, and check to make sure the kids didn’t leave toothpaste “bugs” in the sink. You know, the toothpaste globs that kids leave behind, that get caked to the sink because apparently getting the toothpaste in their mouths is too difficult. (And cleaning up the caked-on globs off that organic, schmorganic toothpaste they use is even harder.)
I swish with mouthwash, spit it out, and make my way back downstairs. I take final look at myself in the foyer mirror. I hope I don’t get caught checking myself out. I’d be better off busying myself with my phone while I wait.
Two minutes go by. Ding-dong. She’s here: the young woman I am interviewing to babysit my children one day. One day…
You see, the last time someone other than a family member watched my children was four years ago.
My youngest was five months old, I was visiting my hometown for the holidays, and I was desperate to get away from my daughter’s piercing, needy screams for a night of drunken debauchery with my old homies. She was a colicky baby, and I needed a cocktail (or ten) to block out the hideousness that was my life at the time.
Nothing bad happened. I was just miserable all night. I was running on fumes of sleep. Couple that with cocktails — and the leave-my-baby-jitters — and it was an unenjoyable evening at best.
I don’t let people watch my kids, I barely tolerate family and close friends babysitting my kids, and it comes down to one reason: an all-consuming fear. In fact, it’s probably a phobia. A paranoia at this point.
I’m afraid one of my kids will choke, and the person watching them won’t know CPR. Or will be too freaked out to react at all.
I’m afraid there will be a fire, and if my kids are under the care of someone else — in someone else’s home -—they won’t know the fire escape plan. They won’t know how to operate the windows there. Because, of course, all windows are different, and I only taught them how to open our windows.
I’m afraid they’ll fall and hit their heads on hard floors or concrete. Or roll down stairs.
I’m terrified my oldest will have an asthma attack, and I won’t be there to administer her the medication (even though she’s five years old and knows how to administer it herself).
I’m scared one of them will break out in hives from a random, first-time allergic reaction.
The “what-ifs” that swirl through my head make me sick to my stomach. And so I never, ever pull the childcare trigger.
My husband begs me for date nights, but it’s with great pride that I announce we’ve had two “day dates” in the past two years.
Ugh, sad state of affairs. I know. I know! Yet I can’t help it.
Sure, would I like to go on a date with my husband? Or go out with my friends when my husband is out of town? Yes and yes. But at what price? How fun is being childfree when you’re freaking out about childcare?
I don’t give a damn that I’ve missed cocktails because I didn’t have anyone to watch my kids.
I give no fucks about the fun adult birthdays I’ve had to miss.
I don’t give a shit that I’ve missed another shindig.
It never seems worth it to me to find a babysitter, interview them and then actually use them because of this overwhelming anxiety I have about leaving my kids in someone else’s care.
Not to mention the disgusting, visceral reactions that precede before said “nights out.” (How worth it is date night if I spend 30 minutes in-and-out of the “John,” with anxiety-induced diarrhea?)
I’m supposed to feel sexy and date-worthy after that?
As I sit across from this friendly, inviting face, I wonder: Can I trust her? Will she be more alert watching my kids that I am? Will she know to never answer the door? How does she handle herself in emergency situations? Will she invite boys over like I did when I was a teenage babysitter? Will she be on her phone the whole time? Will she remember to turn off the gas stove when she’s done cooking the kid’s mac-n-cheese?
I need to know. I need to know she will not only follow my detailed lists of DOs and DON’Ts, but that she’ll also be diligent and react with common sense and urgency when needed. I want her to remember that she was a small child once. What did she like about her parents? What did she not like? How would she like to be cared for?
Most importantly, can you play Barbies for two hours straight?
This post originally appeared on Missguided Mama.
About Sarah Hosseini
Sarah Hosseini is a writer, mother, Profanity Princess and Expletive Expert. “Giving my kids enough material to write a book about me one day, until then, they’re my material.” Work is published in Sammiches & Psych Meds, Cosmopolitan, Redbook Magazine, Good Housekeeping, The Huffington Post, Bustle, Your Tango and many more.She blogs weekly at www.SarahHosseini.com. Sarah lives in Atlanta-ish with her husband and two daughters. Follow along on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.