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The Day I Pretended to Babysit My Own Kids

The Day I Pretended to Babysit My Own Kids

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Emotionally exhausted. This is how I was beginning to feel on a regular basis. Everything my kids did that wasn’t “perfect” got on my nerves. If they argued with each other, I yelled. If they didn’t listen to me the first time I asked, I yelled. If they had a complaint about dinner, I got annoyed . . . and yelled. Why was I reacting this way? When did parenting become such an burden for me? Why couldn’t I enjoy my job as a mother, and see the beauty in raising a family?When did parenting become such a burden?

It was something I thought about regularly, because I knew that the way I was feeling was not the kind of parent I wanted to be. I wanted to rediscover the enjoyment in parenting, but I needed to dig deep to figure out how to find it again.

One night during bedtime, as I was putting my 6-year-old to sleep, I began having the same agitated feeling. She kept asking questions, not listening, squirming—basically, being a normal 6-year-old. I hated the way I was feeling, and decided to play a little mind game with myself.

I took a deep breath and told myself, “She’s not mine. She is someone else’s child.” Yes, as awful as it sounds, I pretended that I was babysitting. I felt a little guilty, but also like I had no other choice to maintaining my composure.

What happened next was truly amazing. It really felt as if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. All of the tension and impatience slowly melted away. It didn’t bother me anymore that she was talking, interrupting, jumping; she was a child I was taking care of for someone else. I didn’t take it so seriously anymore. She made me laugh! She was funny, saying such smart things. I was able to enjoy her. I felt responsible for her, but I didn’t feel burdened. She suddenly became her own person with her own personality. It was a rush of pure joy.

I went to bed that night and thought more deeply about what had happened. I knew I couldn’t spend every day pretending I was babysitting someone else’s children. It just wasn’t true. Yet if it wasn’t true, then why did it feel so right? Instinctually, I knew that I was on to something. After some deep thinking, I realized that in fact I wasn’t lying to myself at all. My newfound perspective was very true!

My children do not “belong” to me. In reality, they belong to the Creator of the world. I was entrusted to care for them, love them, teach them, keep them safe. My children are in actuality G‑d’s children. Wow! What a huge responsibility! What a huge gift! Suddenly, parenting became the most special job in the world. I am responsible for something precious and unique and wonderful. And when I let go of the worrying and the judgment, I had room to parent out of love and respect. In the end, I felt a deeper love than before.

I have come to understand that I had been putting all of myI actually believed their behavior was a reflection of me own anxieties and personal expectations onto my kids. I actually believed that their behavior was a reflection of me. If they did something wrong, it was because I was doing something wrong. I lost what’s called “my job description.” It isn’t as though I don’t feel a responsibility. I do—and in a way, even more now.

But my perspective has changed. It isn’t my job to change them. It isn’t my job to make them perfect. I constantly remind myself to love them for who they are and not who I want them to be.

So now, when I play the “babysitting” game in my mind, I try to remind myself that it’s not a game, after all. It’s the truth. Over time, with hard work, I hope to make my change in perspective more than just a perspective, but rather my everyday reality.

Chana Bitton has been freelance writing for fifteen years. She currently lives in Chicago, Illinois, with her husband and 5 children (BH).
Sefira Ross is a freelance designer and illustrator whose original creations grace many Chabad.org pages. Residing in Seattle, Washington, her days are spent between multitasking illustrations and being a mom.
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JDV June 21, 2017

Clever and oh, so true! Reply

Dee June 21, 2017

Very true words. We can all benefit from these thoughts.
Thank you! Reply

Simcha June 21, 2017

Thank you! This is just what I needed! Reply

ROBYN A. WEINBAUM KISSIMMEE June 20, 2017

i did that many times: decided i was not the mommy, but the nanny. we played more games, we went to the park more, i was more organized. i treated mothering LIKE A JOB and used all my work skills to be a better, more relaxed parent. Reply

Karen Trinidad and Tobago June 20, 2017

This really helped me I am a yelling mom thanks for the rebirth I said I am the worst mom ever but thanks it helped Reply

timothy lyle kies muskegon June 20, 2017

I am just a man, but I love this. Thank you so much for this and may the Lord bless you and your family. I am going to tell it to my daughter, who is a wonderful mother to my grandson. I can't tell you how much I appreciate both you and her, and the fantastic jobs you do with your kids, and don't even know it. Reply

Anonymous June 20, 2017

Amen! Excellent article and very well written! Thanks for posting! Reply

sara June 20, 2017

Nice! Love the message! Thank you! Reply

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