"I don't see why I should have to pay so much for day care, it's not like you really do anything. You're just a babysitter"

"Just a babysitter". I let those words bounce off the insides of my skull a few moments, waiting to see where they would land this time. Depending on my frame of mind, they could settle like a pebble in a shoe, irritatingly pushing against my feelings of self-worth. "You're just a babysitter, what are you doing here wasting your time? It's not like anybody has any respect for you. You're wasting your education. You aren't accomplishing anything of importance here. You're just a babysitter."

Other times, they would get snagged in the branches of anger, flapping hard against the winds of opposition. I needed to be careful those times to guard my tongue. "What the hell do you mean, I'm "just a babysitter"? Do you have any clue what it entails to be responsible for a child's health, safety, and emotional well-being? I bet not! Do you have any notion of how many waking hours I spend with YOUR child trying to convince her that, "YES, Mommy DOES love you. She just needs a little time to unwind after work before coming to get you. She just needed a drink to relax after a day. No, it's not you she's mad at. She loves you," because you've decided to show up drunk, reeking of vodka, screaming at your daughter yet again." Ignorance is not a reason to scathingly cut a person down, at least that is what I kept telling myself.

Today, "just a babysitter", goes through a little change before nestling comfortably in the warm recesses of my heart. It throws off its ragged cloak, growing bigger as it stands up proud and tall. A glow burns brightly, nearly blinding me. You know you are more , it tells me, you kiss hurts, you feed minds, you nourish hearts, you fight dragons, you make books come alive, you create magic worlds.

I am reminded of how I get up at 6:00 to have breakfast waiting on the table before the first arrive, how I bundle them up and walk them to school in the chill morning air, how we discover the first crocuses pushing up through the melting snow, how they smile when their eyes rest on me after searching through the crowd of parents waiting to see the class play, how I help them when they are stuck on long division, how we make magic out of a garbage bag full of scraps of recycled materials, how we bake tollhouse cookies together and then draw pictures in the flour on the table. I am reminded of tying shoes and zipping up coats before the hugs goodbye at the end of a full day. It feels good. The words don't mean a thing at those times.

I smile as I say "I prefer to think of myself as a professional Mom."

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