Help! My babysitter is engaged and leaving me!


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Tara Shafer

posted in Parenting

Our babysitter is engaged. We are so happy for her. We are also a little adrift when we contemplate the coming vacuum on date night.

When our beloved German shepherd died this spring, it was our treasured babysitter Brittany who found a way to help our children grieve. Our devastated and shocked 10-year-old tried to cry, but began to struggle with the expression of the intimacy of grief. Confusion churned in his gaze.

Upon learning of our dog's and death, Brittany showed up with stuffed German shepherds to cuddle. (I should note that Brittany has about 17 jobs and is the hardest-working person I know). When I came back from date night, David was cuddled up with Brittany.

"He's just a bit sad," said Brittany as he slumped against her.

The adored babysitter is a special person. Babysitters and nannies render the most intimate of the professional services -- to the point that it is not really as much a professional service as it is a personal gift.

My children love Brittany. It makes me happy that they do. I trust her judgement absolutely. I know she will keep them safe in any circumstance. I also trust her to offer sound guidance on the politics of the playground. They learn from her.

So, I write here again so that I can celebrate her happiness. Brittany recently announced her engagement. She looks radiant. I and my family could not be happier for her. There is a pain in the inevitable loss of her. But the loss is to the bigness of the life that awaits her -- and that is grand. So we join in her unadulterated joy and wish her every happiness.

My children are better people for having been quasi-parented by Brittany. My women friends all joke that it is far worse to steal a babysitter than it is a husband. There should be a verb for the care that expert caregivers provide when they step in and do better than I can on those days when I am just overwhelmed and plowed under by too much to do. When I am cranky and not having, ahem, my best parenting day. On these days I need Brittany to walk through the door. "Dance party?" she asks and the children run to her.

We are sometimes given gifts and aspects of what we gain are temporary. It is right and good that Brittany should have the very happiest of lives. She will have a special place in our hearts - always.

What verb would you suggest as a companion to "parenting" but for babysitters and nannies? To celebrate their unique influence on our children and our families?

Images by Brittany Longobardi and iStock

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