Zen and the Art of Babysitting

Before I had children I had not really been experienced in looking after them, well unless you count the Young Archaeologist Club I used to help run where parents would drop the kids off in the hope of a bit of peace and quiet to go shopping. I used to get very annoyed when they appeared late to pick their kid up, often without explanation.

One of the happiest periods of my life was when I was sitting A levels. Life was fun, full of opportunity and excitement. Then I went off to university and my life fell apart. For a North London girl, the far north college based university was simply not suitable. I had to share a room, I like peace, my own space. Everyone else was from a privileged pubic school background, the course was simply far too easy for me. There was no challenge. I have never felt so isolated, alone and miserable except I was never alone. Even at three o’clock in the morning there was someone there or something going on. I stopped eating and over three weeks lost two or three stone in weight. I couldn’t face communal eating as well, the constant sociability with others who are not your type.

I left and gradually pulled my life back together again and after taking a job in a bank went back to university to pursue my dreams of a career as a professional archaeologist. After a while I got a job in a prestigious national museum and from there my career went onwards and upwards. I was considered a rising star in my profession and even profiled in the Daily Mail careers section. It all coincided with another period of happiness when I had a great circle of friends, money and the chance to enjoy all that London has to offer. I met my future husband on a train and bought a house with him.

After many years of trying for a child we eventually managed to have one and then another. No-one can tell you how much your life changes when you have a child. I found it incredibly hard, isolating and demanding. Having spent a lot of time trying to find inner peace and calm in an attempt to conceive I was well versed in the ways of Buddha, yoga, self -help books and so forth. Generally the art of zen. Can I say that this doesn’t help when it’s 2 o’clock in the morning and you haven’t slept for at least 16 hours probably more and your chest hurts with the ever increasing flow of milk. With time though, you develop endless patience and that is where Zen comes into it all.

You see, a recent reinforced career change  has thrown me completely. For the moment I will become a stay at home mum. Not that there is anything wrong with this, but I cant help feeling like an enforced babysitter. Like a moth who has been trapped in a jar with lots of little caterpillars by a small child interested in natural history. Or something. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just not what I would choose. I don’t think. However, I am a trained child-minder and so I have been equipped through training with the relevant skills and I think I could also take on a few more little caterpillars. Metaphorically speaking.

I am a bit scared about it all, no, I’m completely terrified. You don’t realise how much of your identity is tied up in the job you do, until you don’t do it any more. This mucks about with Zen. However, Zen is necessarily for dealing with small children. They can smell fear, inner turmoil and so forth. The art of babysitting and childcare is to exude inner peace, strength and confidence. So you see, Zen is critical in the art of babysitting anyone mastered it yet? Does it come with complete happiness and fulfilment or the calmness obtained through intensive yoga practise and vegetarianism? If its the last option, I don’t have the time, so you might not want me babysitting…


1 Response

  1. Mrs C 11th November 2011 / 4:01 pm

    An excellent and very honest post. Looking after small children also terrifies me and it&#39;s definitely something that gets easier with experience, but never easy!<br /><br />x

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