I was having a conversation with some mom friends and one of them made an upset remark about how someone asked her if her husband would “babysit” while she grabbed coffee with friends. My friend was angry at this person because they dared call her children’s father a “babysitter.”
“So?” was my response.
Oops. The whole group must have whiplash after the speed of the head swivel toward me in that comment.
“Well, it doesn’t really bother me when people call my husband a babysitter. In fact, I’ve called him that before,” I continued.
More stares. Then silence. Then an awkward change of subject.
Okay, okay … maybe my “so?” comment had a little less empathy than it could (should?) have in this particular situation.
However, I still don’t see a major problem using the term “babysitter” in reference to my friend’s husband. In light of this conversation, I asked my own husband if he gets offended when people call him a babysitter to his own kids. His quizzical look preceded the question, “Why? Do people get offended by that?”
So, yes, you can call my husband a babysitter.
Heck, you can even call ME a babysitter, if you’d like.
I do understand why people sometimes put on their armor when the dreaded “B” word is spoken in regards to a parent. When used, it can sometimes imply a lack of long-term care and raising of children on the parents’ behalf. And in that case, I absolutely understand.
However – for the most part – it doesn’t bother me.
Because – for the most part – I believe it isn’t used in that connotation. I believe most husbands and dads wish to be or are already heavily involved in raising their children. (I realize this is not always the case, so please read that last sentence with objectivity.)
If I need to go to the grocery store, I may ask my husband to “babysit” the kids, so he is aware that he’s the only adult around. If I need to take a shower, I may ask my husband to “watch” the kids, so he can be ready to help them if a need arises. I don’t expect him to necessarily engage with the kids every second I am away or busy.
Because babysitting is the easy stuff.
It includes making sure a child is fed and stays safe. It is having fun playing games and keeping the house from burning down. It is having an adult around “just in case.” So yes – sometimes my husband “babysits” … And (gasp!) sometimes I do, too.
But not just anybody can be a parent. That job description belongs to me and my husband. While we can do stuff a hired babysitter can do, that babysitter can’t do what we do.
Because parenting is the hard stuff.
It requires not only the babysitting tasks, but also molding children into respectable teenagers and then adults. It’s beyond kissing a skinned knee, but healing a child’s hurt feelings. It’s beyond teaching their ABCs, but teaching about work ethic. It’s beyond feeding a child spaghetti-o’s, but feeding their souls.