Don't ever ask me to babysit. Ok, maybe you can ask me to babysit.
But probably not, because I will say no. And I will think bad things about you.
Here are three completely different scenarios.
Scenario #1 - A friend asks if I can watch her kids one night because she and her husband have an obligation that takes both of them outside the home. I have a personal relationship with this family. I hang out with the children, I hang out with the parents. They are good and kind to me. Will I 'babysit' for them? Yes. No big deal. Friends helping friends. Kumbaya, etc.
Scenario #2 - Someone from the ward asks me to babysit for them, and they are willing to pay me a substantial amount of money for my services, meaning, much, much more than they'd pay the 13 year old from the ward that they normally use. Will I babysit for them? Maybe, but probably not. It depends on the family. It depends on if I feel like leaving the house again after being at work all day. But, again, probably not. But I will think you are awesome for understanding that you need to pay a woman in her 30s more than you would pay a teenager. Bravo!
One of my last paying babysitting gigs was for the family of one of my nursery children back in DC. It was a great experience, one that I never felt belittled by. Prior to the night that I babysat for them, the mother had made an effort to know me as a person, and each time we talked she always spoke to me like an equal. Also, her children were awesome, real hepcats that I would have wanted to hang with anyhow. To top it all off, at the end of the night they insisted on compensating me as you would compensate a grown woman, not a teenage girl. That's how it's done, folks.
Scenario #3 (the scenario for which this post is being written) - Someone from the ward asks me to babysit for them because all the Young Women are busy that night, and I'm the next person they thought of. There will more than likely be no exchange of money, or if there is, very little.
Let me begin with this - I haven't been in Young Women for 14 years. I'm not in some kind of extended release program just because I'm single. I promise, I'm a full-fledged adult. If I'm the first person you think of after you run through the list of Young Women in the ward, then
you're an idiot you need to readjust your thinking. Especially, my dear, if I am older than you are. I am of the same level of adulthood that you are. I understand that being a parent stretches and bends and breaks and molds you in untold ways, but I have a deep testimony that there are many ways for the Potter to work the clay. I'm an adult, I promise, the same as you. I've just been doing different versions of stretching and bending and breaking and molding.
I'll follow up with this - I work. I have a job, just like all the husbands in my ward (and many of the women, for heaven's sake!). That job thing is what I'm doing with my life, and just like most men who work full-time, I'm not interested in babysitting as a side gig when I get home at the end of the day. Yes, many men (and women!) come home and parent at the end of a long day, but parenting isn't babysitting. Parenting is, hopefully, a choice. It is a role, a responsibility, an identity.
Babysitting is a job. If I wanted to babysit professionally, I'd babysit professionally. I do not babysit professionally. Herein take thy clue. So, again, unless we are tight, or you are going to pay me a decent amount of money for my time, please do not assume that I am the next logical person that you should contact when all the Young Women are too busy to watch your kidlets. I'm not sitting at home each night looking for opportunities to fake mother other women's children.
This post was written after consulting two of my close single friends for their opinions on the matter. One of these friends had a sister-in-law who repeatedly expected her to babysit her 4+ children at nights and on the weekends. My friend's mother finally explained to this sister-in-law that one of the many reasons my friend wouldn't be interested in acting as her babysitter was that she had a very demanding and stressful full-time job. The sister-in-law then replied, 'Yeah, she works, but she's not busy like a mom.' I have no words.