Two months after my son was born, hair in a knot, eye bags melting into my cheeks, and constant fear on level red, I hired a babysitter. Her name is Maria, I knew her from before, she’d taken care of a friend’s kids, nevertheless, the first few times I left the house for an hour and then two, I cried from separation anxiety. Eventually, she became the person who I turned to when he has a weird rash, didn’t sleep on time, had a nightmare, refused to wash his hair, got his first tooth, took his first step.
And now she’s leaving.
I barely use her anymore, but the comfort of knowing that the woman who spent the most important years of my life by my side was just a phone call away, was priceless.
We’re a modern, nuclear family, mom, dad, kid, we don’t have grandparents that live next door, cook our meals, impose or babysit at the sound of a bell. Even though I wouldn’t have it any other way, I’ve had plenty moments when I resented that, and found solace in Maria.
But now she’s leaving. Though I’m not as scared as I was when she first came, my son is no longer a newborn and killing him by mistake is no longer a possibility, showers and hairbrushes are readily available, and I’ve grasped the fact that going to bed early will make 6am risings easier, I’m petrified at the thought of having no help when I most need it.
The people we choose to help raise our kids become a strange kind of family, one that we choose, one that we pay, one that can disappear at any moment, no questions asked. Maria came only three times a week for two-and-a-half years, much of what she did drove me crazy, but the thought of finding a replacement seems equal to just being alone. Will I hear him laugh as he does when she makes her noises and faces? Will he run and hug the next one, drag her by her finger to his play area, ask her to sing the songs only they know? I know he probably will. But I’ll always be crippled by the lack of my pillar, its knowledge, its strength, its balance, its presence. It was family.