So I’m Engaged: Babysitting

I’ve had a case of baby fever practically since I was an infant, so the possibility of someday having children has always been a no-brainer, even more than the idea of getting married. Put me in a room with a dozen adults and one youngster, and the child will have my ear all night. When I was freelance writing from home last year, I made extra cash, though not much, babysitting. It was mostly for fun and to put a damper on my crazy baby cravings. One thing I never considered in my non-debate over someday having kids was the possibility that my partner-in-crime might not want them as bad as I did…or even at all. When that became an issue for my fiancé and me long before we even got engaged, rest assured some tears were shed. True, some people just do not want children. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it for them, unless the condom breaks and they don’t have a choice. Other people, in my opinion, just think they don’t want children. For a long time before I got a dog, I would see dogs on the street and think they were cute, but I couldn’t really imagine having one myself. It wasn’t that I was a cat person and dogs repulsed me. Having a dog just seemed like such a huge responsibility without much of a payoff. Then, I got a dog, and she was instantly the love of my life. And you know what they say: If you think you love your pet, wait ‘til you have kids. That kind of love must be so enormous that it’s almost unimaginable, at least for me, because, my Lord, do I love my Lucca — but it’s also what I think M.’s problem has been. That and other issues, but I won’t get into that.

Eventually we worked through it and got to a point where he understood how important being a mom is to me and that not every major decision and role in life can be 100 percent anticipated and prepared for, and that while other peoples’ kids irked him, he would seriously love his own. A lot. Probably even more than me, I promised. Even still, M.’s experience with kids was minimal while mine was extensive. Once he asked me, “So, when do kids start potty-training? After a few months?” When married friends of ours came into town with their three-year-old daughter, I was slightly stupefied when he suggested we baby-sit for them so they could go out on the town. Happily, I agreed. This was going to be FUN.

The day before Kate, Doug, and little Haley were set to arrive, M. IM’d me at work.

Him: So, do you think you could leave work early tomorrow? They’re getting to the apartment at 5 but have to leave for their dinner by 6, and I don’t want to be alone with the kid.
Me: Why? She won’t bite.
Him: I know. But I don’t want to make a mistake. I don’t know what to do with her.

But then he told me he was excited. “I love you even more when I see you with kids,” he said. It was sweet.

We had a blast that night with Haley, who, lucky for M., was a remarkably well-behaved toddler, and I should know because I have babysat for Damian, the Spawn of Satan himself. He seemed a little bit confused when she just kept changing her mind about whether to go to bed. “It’s like when Lucca can’t pick which toy to chew on,” I explained. “She’s distracted.”

Later on that weekend we went out to dinner with the entire clan. Haley was picking at a plate of mac ‘n’ cheese with ketchup, milkshake in her hair, fussing a bit. Kate, Doug, and I chatted about the election, and M. got up from the table and started walking Haley around the restaurant. He held her hand and took her into the kitchen, where one of the cooks showed her how they made her milkshake. For about 10 minutes while Kate and Doug got in some much-needed adult conversation, M. sat at a table across the restaurant with Haley, chatting about Ratatouille and sitting quietly while she took calls on her plastic pink cell phone.

It was such a pleasant non-surprise. Seeing him with her was as I had always suspected it would be — I loved him even more.