"There's no better form of birth control than babysitting" — it's an expression that is used often. For me, within my first few weeks of being a nanny, the saying was posed in the form of a question: "So this nannying gig is enough to make you not want kids, huh?" I responded that day with a shocked look, followed by "I definitely want kids," an answer that was met with a subtle laugh and a "just you wait" expression. Well, I waited, and after three years of tantrums, puking, crying, and screaming, my response is still, without a shred of doubt, "I definitely want kids."
If you knew me, you might call me an exception to this "birth control" rule from the get-go, and I'd understand why — I've always been good with kids. It shouldn't be a shock to anyone in my life that I can't wait to be a mom, and honestly, nannying just amplified that a million times over.
Any person who implies that the time I spent with my little man could have been so bad that I would not want to have kids of my own is so far off the mark, and there are a number of statements that I have rebuttals to surrounding this misconception.
General statement: When you babysit, at least you get to give the kid back to the parents.
My argument: A fair point, yes. But leaving a child you love, whether they're yours or not, is always difficult. It was consistently the end of the nanny work day for me when I would feel most sad that I had to leave my little guy behind, and that he would continue to have moments both big and small without me.
General statement: Infants are cute and all, but once they start walking and talking, you're in real trouble.
My argument: Every single day with a child — even the ones that are overall just awful days — seems to somehow be better than the last. Just when you think you've gotten to the "best age ever," they learn something new or use a word they've never said, and it's amazing. Watching a child grow and learn is probably the most rewarding part of nannying, and I can only imagine that it'll be better when I can witness this growth with a child that belongs to me.
General statement: Once you see a few tantrums over nothing, you'll forget how cute kids are.
My argument: So false. The thing is, no matter what kind of parent you are, there are going to be times when your kid is just totally unreachable and needs to have a tantrum to cope with emotions. Witnessing those as a nanny was actually extremely endearing — it was good practice, and helped me to better learn how to deal with sour moods. And to be honest, some of the cutest kid faces are mad ones — it's difficult not to laugh when a child is being so ridiculous that it ends up being adorable. I'm not saying I didn't lose my sh*t when he did from time to time, but sometimes life is overwhelming, and you just deal with it (and so will your child).
General statement: It may have been all fun and games while you were a nanny, but being a mom is a lot harder.
My argument: While I totally get where this is coming from, I truly think that nannies don't get enough credit. As a nanny to a family with two parents who were able to tag-team whenever they needed to, I was left to do a two-person job on my own, and though many people do this every day (you are all superstars), it's extremely difficult. What makes being a nanny even harder is knowing that the child you're with isn't yours, and while you get to have some say over the way things go while you're in charge, you need to put most of your focus on the way the child's parents are raising him, and comply with that. So yeah, there was a lot of fun and there were a lot of games, but it wasn't all rainbows and unicorns being a nanny — it was really hard work.
I realize that a lot of these arguments stem from the pressures associated with bringing your own kid into the world, because people expect you to be this perfect parent from the beginning (which is nuts). There's no such thing as being a perfect mom — parenthood is about growing as your child does and following your instincts. Being a nanny forced me to develop some of those maternal instincts well before I needed to, which is great practice for the wild ride of motherhood.
So to recap — as if I haven't drilled it enough — nannying was actually the opposite of birth control for me; it made me want to become a mom so much more desperately because I got a sneak peek at how amazing life with kids can be. If I weren't single, I'd be ready for a couple of snot monsters right now (Dear future boyfriend, I hope you want a few nuggets). With my luck, I'll end up with the most devilish kid — he'll be Trouble with a capital "T."
Challenge accepted — he'll be the most loved little terror out there.