Our Mommy MD Guide’s reply: How strange it was, hiring someone to love my child. To love in my absence—that was my babysitter’s most important function. Arriving on time, housekeeping, feeding and changing, were all secondary.
Ideally, a trusted relative would have babysat my child—someone invested in her, and who would have a permanent relationship with her. Unfortunately, that wasn’t possible.
So I looked for an older woman who had raised her own children. I knew younger babysitters would leave for college, or other jobs. I didn’t want my daughter going through a series of losses like that.
A babysitter needs to be trustworthy of being entrusted with the most valuable thing in the world. It’s important to keep in mind how vulnerable toddlers are. They are just beginning to talk, and to know right from wrong. You can’t count on them to report a babysitter’s wrongdoing, or to stand up to the sitter.
I wanted a babysitter vouched through personal connections. I didn’t go through an agency, but the nannies of friends. Finally, I found a woman who had raised five daughters. Her grown children were responsibly employed, and had chosen good husbands. It was obvious from the way she talked about her children, that she loved them deeply. Because she was capable of this kind of love, I knew she would also love my daughter.
—Dora Calott Wang, MD, a mom of a nine-year-old daughter, a psychiatrist and historian at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, and the author of The Kitchen Shrink: A Psychiatrists Reflection on Healing in a Changing World, in Albuquerque, NM