Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Untold Stories




The Untold Stories—that sounds like a crappy TLC show (actually I think it is. Anyway...)

I think I have finally gotten to a point in life where I will no longer be a nanny ever again. Maybe babysitting occasionally but my days of chasing after other people's children for 50 hours a week is behind me.

With that said I think I am ready to share the secret stories, the ones that I've tucked away over the years too scared I would run into the parents again.

My freshman year of college when everyone on my hall was getting paid pocket change to slave away at retail stores and be screamed at by their incompetent underpaid bosses, I went the babysitting route to make some shoe money. I could charge whatever I wanted and work whenever I pleased, it sounded perfect! I put an add up on Craigslist and by that weekend I had already met with 6 moms and their spit upping babies at the Starbucks on my block.

Starbucks is the go-to meetup for any girl in the city needing to make sure the person they're meeting isn't going to kidnap them. I walked in with an over-sized pair of glasses on covering the majority of my face and left them on as my eyes scanned the room. I was looking for a 30-something blonde wearing a North Face and holding a baby. I saw about a dozen 30-something blondes, all wearing big, puffy North Face jackets (and Uggs, of course. The stereotype is painfully true.) and bouncing a baby on their knee. I finally spotted who I thought was my 30-something blonde woman and walked over with a big smile on my face. The smile that says, "You can trust this complete stranger with your child and eagerly pay me accordingly!" We spent the next half hour chatting with an unspoken understanding that we were both making sure we hadn't seen the other on an America's Most Wanted poster.

Once I felt confident she wasn't hiding anyone in her basement we scheduled my first "get to know the baby" date. Jacqueline, the mom, wanted me to come over Monday afternoon for a few hours while she was there and get to know her 9 month old. She said there was a lot to learn and remember and she felt it would be best if she were there. Hmm, okay. "Get to know the baby" AKA she was only 95% sure I wasn't hiding anyone in my basement.

Being a babysitter in a big city is a slippery slope, being a really good babysitter is an even slippery slope. Once the parents like you they will start recommending you to their friends. You start out wanting to work a couple days a week after class and suddenly your only social life is with preschoolers. And it's so hard to turn down! The date night gigs were the best. I usually arrived right after they put their kids down and got paid to watch TV.

I was truly blessed with so many wonderful kids to babysit and their parents were just as great. I actually looked forward to working for most of them. But of course there were always the...outliers.

Within five minutes of meeting a new mom I could always guess exactly what kind of mom she was, with no previous information about her. Those groups were:

The fist time mom.
The first time mom of a girl.
The mom of all boys.
The mom of several kids.

The first time mom and the first time mom of a girl were very similar; the only difference being the level of protectiveness. Moms of little girls always had a slight increase in that area. I could always expect around 15 texts the first time mom of a girl while they were on their date night, where as for just the first time mom it was only around 5. The texts were always the same.

What she would text: How's everything going so far? 
What she meant: Is my baby still alive?

What she would text: How'd bath time go?
What she meant: Did you drown my baby?

What she would text: Did he fuss when you put him in his crib?
What she meant: Did you invite your boyfriend over to make out while you let my baby cry?

I got referred to a new family by another couple I had been babysitting for for several years. Those were always easier on both of us. The parents were ready to trust me since their close friends already trusted me.

However, this wasn't the case with this family.

They were first time parents and had a 10 month old son. My first night babysitting for them Sherri, the mom, went over all her son's needs with me. When he eats, what he eats, bedtime routine, no allergies, he needs his blanket to sleep with but not during story time, white noise on volume 4 and a half, shut the bedroom door mostly but keep at least a 3 inch crack, if he wakes up crying it could mean all sorts of things...

Sherri: "Like, if it's a high-pitched 'weeehhh!!!! weeehhh! muhhhh!' that means it's his diaper. But if it's more of like, a low rumble that turns into a high-pitched squeal then he's hungry...."

She stood there for 5 minutes mimicking all of his cries, which all sounded the exact same. I babysat for them a couple times a week for over two years and every single time I arrived she would go over his bedtime routines, food preferences, and schedule as if I lacked the ability to remember basic facts. I truly wondered why she trusted me with her child if she felt I couldn't remember that, um, he's a baby and needs his diaper changed.

Not all the mom's were like this. There were others who balanced out the over-protective ones. A mom of five boys needed a last minute babysitter and found my Craigslist ad. She didn't even want to meet me first! I spoke with her on the phone and felt comfortable enough to meet her at the Whole Foods up the street from their condo.

She was a lot easier to spot than the 30-something blonde at Starbucks. Even though she was also a 30-something blonde there's something about being the mom of 5 boys that makes you look like the mom of 5 boys. Pony tail. Dirt stained jeans. In very good shape.

She waved frantically when we spotted each other and started walking toward her place before I even got to her. She gave me the briefest rundown of her kids. Their names, no allergies, and bed time. She said the baby goes to bed first and to put him in the pack-n-play in their master bedroom.

We were having a great time, a wild and hectic time, but fun nonetheless.

That is until I put the baby down for bed.

If you 1.) have your baby sleep in your room, 2.) have other children and most importantly 3.) have a babysitter coming over would you not take 3 seconds and pick up the dozen condoms spread across your bed and bedroom floor?!

I truly wish that was the most awkward/inappropriate experience I had over the years. But no. I would gladly go back and tidy up all those condoms myself if I could not have babysat for one particular family.

It was the worst combination—terrible kids and terrible parents. That combo is rare. You at least usually like one or the other.  But their kids were brats, unashamed little terrorists and the mom and dad were even worse in their own creepy way.

They had an almost one year old, and almost two year old, and an almost three year old. The mom would offer these absurd recommendations for when her two year old would get out of hand.

"It really calms him down to give him a bath. He loves playing in there for hours. I only do that when his dad is also home, of course, I can't stay in there with him and leave the other two by themselves. Maybe you could set up a little craft area for Peyton and just sit on the toilet and hold the baby in your lap while Evan plays in the tub. That would work!"

Oh. would it? Would that work? Are you for real, woman?! I am not sitting on the toilet holding a squirmy 10 month old and facilitating art class for a 3-year-old while your undiagnosed toddler calms himself in the tub for 2 hours!

Except one day I did. Because she was right. It was the only, and I mean only thing to make him stop screaming.

And the next day I quit.

The kid wasn't even the main reason I quit. I had to get to their house every morning at 7. I would arrive right at 7 every single morning. And every single morning the dad would mosey out of the shower right as I walked in, on the dot. He would meander out of the bathroom still soaking wet as if he purposefully didn't dry off and he'd walk out to the living room to say good morning to me all while only being covered with a towel the size of a large washcloth. The only thing keeping it around his waist was his thumb and pointer finger pinching the ends together, daring me to give him the satisfaction of noticing.

After working for a few crazies I was able to see the warning signs in the interview process and turn down their offers to save myself. I am all about cleaning up after and cooking for your children, but ma'am I will not clean your bathroom. I also won't fold your husbands boxers no matter how many days you leave my "to-do" list on top of his laundry pile. I got the hint but apparently you didn't.

It would be remiss of me to only tell the bad stories and not mention the lovely families I had the privilege of working for over the years. You welcomed me into your homes and trusted me with your children and I will never take that lightly. I loved every minute with your precious kids—the dance parties, walking around the city after a rainstorm to find good puddles to jump in, the sheer joy it brought them when we'd go to the park, and my personal favorite--rocking your babies to sleep. I will always cherish those memories and the experience I gained. Oh and eating all the pizza and chips in your pantry was awesome. Sorry for always finishing the last cookie.




Saturday, December 27, 2014

New Year's resolutions

Have you made your New Year's resolutions yet? If you haven't, good! Don't.

They. Don't. Last. 

Maybe I lack the self-control to maintain the absurd commitments but I think many of us aim for unattainable goals every year.

Instead of setting myself up for failure, this year I am going to make small, manageable lifestyle changes. Those changes for me include:


  • 1 gallon of water every day
  • 3 days per week of exercising
  • Better evening and morning routines 
  • Reaching out in kindness more
  • Be able to do a split again

I am a pretty good water drinker but I can never keep track of how much I've had. And I'm certain it's not a gallon. I can never remember how many times I've refilled my glass or Nalgene so I ordered a gallon glass jug and will pour from that to more accurately keep track of my water intake.



As far exercising more regularly, Jesus help me. The two things I dislike the most in life are being cold and getting up early. When my alarm clock goes off at 5:30 and I can already feel the chill that will engulf me if dare I get out from under the covers... It's tortute.

I wanted to get a head start on my exercising goal so I started back yesterday. I want to be able to scoff at everyone who shows up to the gym on January 1st and be like, "Omg they're so annoying, I started a full week before you losers!!"
I did my first deadlift yesterday and as a result I got my first callus! Well it's just a blister at the moment but has great callus potential if I keep this up!




My sophomore year of college my roommate and I were laying around one day and started talking about what we would do if there were a fire. Our bedroom was on the second floor and we wanted to see if we would be able to save the other one. We took turns playing dead as one of us tried picking up the other to carry to safety. 'Tried' being the operative word. Jen was so tiny but I could barely walk two feet once I laboriously got her off the bed. We were laughing so hard it made exerting any strength impossible but also because my upper-body strength is zero. Add that to my New Years resolutions: getting strong enough to carry someone to safety, but hopefully never have to.

I think that's where my better evening and morning routines will kick in and help. Getting to bed at a good time, having my gym clothes laying out, water bottle ready to grab and go, etc. Those little things make getting up slightly easier. Not a lot easier! But bearable. The kind of bearable where you know it probably won't kill you it only sort of feels like it. 

2014 has been full of manageable lifestyle changes, ones I didn't anticipate but am glad I stuck with. I want to keep at it. Reaching out in kindness to people isn't necessarily a resolution for just 2014, it's something that's been on my heart the past few months that I've been working on and want to continue to make a point of until it becomes more of an effortless habit and less having to remind myself. 

I hope you all take a moment to rethink any New Years resolutions you've already made. Are they achievable? Will any of them improve the lives of others and not just yourself? (I am asking myself this also.)

Want an accountability partner? Message me! I promise 90% encouragement and only 10% harassment ;) Really though, if you would like daily, weekly, or monthly accountability and follow up for any new or old commitment you're wanting to stick to I would love to partner with you. Feel free to email me at betholiviahilliard@gmail.com 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

the universal feelings of being unemployed

It was around 2 yesterday afternoon when it hit me. A wave of "Oh, thank God, I'm not the only one!" swept over me.

I was sprawled out on the couch, still in my pajamas, hadn't brushed my teeth yet, and watching Netflix when I realized that I'm not alone. It was during the episode of Parenthood when Adam has been laid off and has been desperately job hunting for over 6 months. He was also still in his pj's, on the couch, watching whatever happened to be on at the moment. He hadn't shaved in days and there were fast food wrappers scattered every where. Is it 2pm? Is it 8am? When you're unemployed you don't really know, or really care. You no longer tell time by the clock but by which soap opera is on. It's a sad, pathetic world that you don't quite understand until you've been jobless for a couple weeks and your sofa is starting to have an actual indentation where your butt has been for 18 hours a day for the past month.

Then the mentality of 'If I can't make any money I certainly shouldn't be spending any either!' takes over and you get to the point where you feel so useless you dig through the pantry (for the 100th time that day convinced that something yummy will magically appear if go check just one more time) and come across crackers that you don't even remember buying. Seeing them brings far too much joy than a pack of crackers should ever bring a person. You slather on some possibly expired cheese and top it with dollop of jam.

I popped the entire thing in my mouth and I got a big ol' bite of stale. Stale doesn't even begin to describe that cracker actually. It was horrible and barely edible. So I added another layer of cheese and ate the rest of the pack.

Unemployment doesn't just effect your eating habits, it's an all-encompassing day-to-day life altering time in your life.  From the outside it looks like you're incredibly lazy and maybe that's pretty accurate. But a month of vacation from work and a month of unemployment are two very different things. You can't truly enjoy this new free time. If you're not busy filling out job applications or sending in your resume, you're going on a much anticipated interview wearing those heels that make you look far more professional than the questionably homeless looking woman you were an hour before.

When you don't get a call back after a week, two weeks, a month even though you feel like you nailed the interview you begin to question yourself in some peculiar ways. (Because of course I assume I was the most qualified and experienced person they interviewed, duh.) So what could it have been? Was it something I said? Did I make a yo' mama joke?! Oh crap, I do that sometimes when I get nervous. I'd remember if I'd done that though... hopefully. Was it how I looked? Was my $200 suit not professional enough? Because really, if they could only see me when I first wake up to compare to how I looked at the interview they'd not only be shocked but impressed by the transformation.

I don't think I ask for a lot out of life. I'm a pretty low maintenance person. I just want to pay my bills, maybe lose a couple pounds, and it'd be nice if Netflix would stream Bring It On. That's not a lot!!

For the record, there's nothing like getting the final jeopardy question right to make an unproductive- still-in-my-pajamas-haven't-even-stepped-outside kind of day feel worthwhile.
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