We have now officially left Stephen with two different people who are not related to us, and both babysitters apparently survived unscathed. Stephen, of course, loved it as it meant he had their undivided attention and was being adored the whole time.

It’s weird to find oneself in a familiar situation but in a completely different role. This past week, for instance, was the first time we hired a babysitter. I used to babysit all the time in junior high and high school — overseas it was pretty much the only source of income other than bagging groceries at the commissary or doing the Summer Hire program. This was definitely the first time, however, that I had to choose, hire, and pay a babysitter.

It wasn’t the first time I had left Stephen with someone else — technically we had a babysitter watching him during Danny’s brother’s wedding ceremony as Danny and I were both in the wedding party, but the girl had been babysitting for Danny’s niece for three years so she was hardly an unknown quantity. Plus they were right downstairs and the ceremony lasted less than an hour. Danny and I also left Stephen with his parents for a couple of hours one night before we moved here so we could go to dinner, but we were a mile down the road and grandparents hardly count as babysitters in my mind.

On Saturday of last week, however, we had a real live babysitter. I was introduced to her through a friend here, and hired her to watch Stephen while we went to a birthday party a few miles away. It worked out great — Stephen loved her for the half hour or so he was awake while she was here, she and I put him to bed in sort of tag team fashion (I swaddled him, she gave him a bottle, then I sang to him and put him down in bed), and he slept the whole time we were gone. I actually think she was a little disappointed she didn’t get to have more time with him awake, although I assured her that after about 7:30 his awake time is not fun time for anyone involved.

It was really strange, though, trying to figure out how to find a babysitter, how much to pay them, how to get her home, meeting her parents, the whole thing. I mean, it’s been four months since Stephen was born but part of me still can’t quite fathom that Danny and I are parents who can expect to be taken seriously when doing adult things like hiring a babysitter.

Today I left him with one of my friends for almost two hours in the middle of the day, during which time I got my hair cut (a whole ‘nother adventure that, trying to explain what you want to a hairdresser with no mutually intelligible language to utilize). It was great to be able to relax and enjoy being pampered, especially since I had really been itching for a way to update my ‘do. He had a great time and even laughed for her, which even Danny and I only get to hear once or twice a day as it’s a pretty recent development.

I realize that there are lots of different opinions on when it’s okay to leave your child with someone other than a family member, but I have to say that having a brief little respite was really nice. I’m thankful every day that I am able to stay home with Stephen, but this really made me understand why my mom used to say that she felt like getting a break every now and then made her a better mother to my sister and me!

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