By Frank Lowe
Originally published on Advocate.com May 07 2014 4:30 AM ET
Any parent will tell you that a good babysitter is gold. Even for stay-at-home parents many occasions require a sitter, including those critical date nights. The problem is, you have to trust somebody with the one thing that means more to you than anything else on earth – your child. It’s a tough position to fill. My spouse and I live in the middle of nowhere, and our parents are well over 1,000 miles away, so finding a substitute caretaker was essential. And since we are both male, we wanted our son to have a female influence in his life that he could be close to.
Our town has a small publication that is nothing but classified ads. We had used it to find painters and handymen (lord knows we need one), but I also noticed it was full of “babysitter needed” ads. I thought about what would attract the kind of caretaker we wanted, so I titled the ad “Looking for Grandma.”
I went on to explain that we are a couple with no relatives close by and that we wanted someone experienced with kids (read: older) who would become a permanent fixture in our son’s life. We received many replies, from all ages, surprisingly, including high school students who felt they could fill grandma’s flat shoes. We whittled down our search to two – one British former nanny with no kids of her own, and an actual Jewish grandmother. We chose the baba.
During the interview process, we threw the typical questions at her: Do you know CPR, are you fully comfortable with an infant, are there any limitations you have, and most important – do you care if we have nanny-cams? She answered everything perfectly and did not mind being spied on, though she didn’t know at the time that was just a fake question to keep her on her toes. We were thrilled that we found her, and after checking her references, we employed her without hesitation.
In the beginning, she would come over when I needed to do things that were difficult with an infant, like getting my hair and nails did. As time went on, I noticed she was forming a bond with our son, and I realized it could potentially be a valuable relationship in his life. I sat down with her one day and had a serious talk about her sticking around for a while, if not for many, many years. She was enthusiastic and tearful and said she would like that very much. I knew we had hit the emotional jackpot and felt extremely lucky to have her in our lives.
As the years progressed, she would watch him sometimes more and sometimes less, but it was always crystal clear they loved each other. She invited us over to Thanksgiving one year. And that was when it struck me that she was now family. Sometimes you are born with family, and sometimes you find family. Our son calls her “Nana,” and I can proudly say we definitely found Grandma.
FRANK LOWE is The Advocate’s parenting writer. Follow Frank on Twitter @GayAtHomeDad and on Instagram at gayathomedad.