Most of my friends have asked me to watch their kids at some point or another. The number of hours I’ve spent with kids who weren’t my own would shock you. In retrospect, being asked (and paid) to watch other people’s children is something I feel pretty good about.
It’s a huge compliment.
As a stay-at-home mom, I’ve accepted watching my friend’s kids once in a while is bound to happen. But I’m beginning to wonder if it’s convenient for everyone except me.
I recently had an experience with a mom that I barely knew hitting me up for a “play-date” with her two sons. We chatted during a field-trip and exchanged numbers. Her son and my son were classmates, but their friendship hadn’t gone beyond the blacktop. My son asked to have this friend over one day, and I was happy to see him take the initiative to build more friendships, so I obliged. Before I knew it, I was picking up my son’s friend and his older brother. — They hung out for the rest of the day until their mom got off work.
Yes. I’m home all day, busting my ass, raising my own two kids. Also, I’m too sweet to say No. (Boundary issues, I know. — I’m working on it.)
I quickly learned what she really wanted was for me to watch her kids for free while she was at work. She wasn’t shy about asking me to do so.
I don’t even know this woman!
I did it a few times. My gut was in a knot the whole time we were exchanging awkward text messages. The stay-at-home-mom in me felt compassion for her, the working mom, who struggles with weekly childcare.
After I had already agreed to have them over a second time for the whole day, she had the audacity to ask me if they could stay the night — disguising the plans as an innocent but epic “play-date” for my kids, of course. I was taken aback when she asked if their two-year-old sister could also come along for the day. — A toddler that I had never met, and more importantly, a toddler that had never met me or at my house.
I am immediately overwhelmed by empathy in most situations. I don’t know how to turn it off.
The play-dates were fine. The boys behaved themselves, and my son was as happy to hang out with school friends all day instead of his little sister. But that’s not the point. Multiple times since then, she messaged me about her kids coming over for a “play-date”. Then listed the dates that would be ideal for them to hang out at my house during the Summer.
Boundaries. I know. I need to work on healthy ones, and this story was an excellent place to start digging.
What is it about the vibe I’m sending out that sets me up for this crap?
Typing my stories out for the world to read is insanely therapeutic. — Thank you for listening❤
Thank you, JC DiosMio, for your phenomenal post. Months later, those words are still like fresh paint on my brain.
A version of this post was previously published on Medium and is republished here with permission from the author.
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