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Dear Babysitter,

Thank you.

Thank you for watching our kids tonight. For making them smile, and for keeping them safe. This is the crux of your role, and you do it so well. However, I don’t think I’ve ever thanked you for something else. Something else that is also so important to my life, and my family.

As a babysitter, you give my husband and me the gift of us. At 17-years-old, you may not fully grasp the magnitude of this gift. It certainly isn’t reflected in the modest stack of dollar bills we provide you at the end of the night. But someday, you might understand it for yourself as you and your spouse walk in the door at 10 p.m. giggling about a memory from years ago that resurfaced on the car ride home. Until then, I’ll do my best to explain.

In married life, there are high highs and low lows. Together you may suffer terrible tragedy and experience great triumph. It can seem these are the ties that bind. But more often, there is everyday life. There are bills to pay, and lawns to mow, and doctor appointments to make. There are groceries to buy, and daycare pickups to coordinate, and “seriously, can you just take care of the kids for like two seconds while I pee?” In marriage you talk all the time, but you don’t always really talk.

Yet at the same time, my husband and I do love to talk to each other. Really talk. About our hopes, dreams, fears, and that interesting article we read about how grocery stores market their rotisserie chicken. With small children at our feet and dishes in the sink, we don’t always have that chance. Even after the kids are tucked in, it’s highly likely that our preschooler will need a drink of water in 30 minutes, or that our toddler will need one more hug. Then when we finally settle into the couch, wiped out by the day, we may need that quiet time to finish a project or unwind with mindless television.

However, when you walk in the door, dear babysitter, you give us back us. The kids run to greet you at the door, thrilled that their night just got a little bit more exciting by your very presence. Then we kiss them goodnight and venture out into the world without a bag of snacks or a single diaper. You won’t know this yet, but there is a palpable change happening in that dirty Honda CRV. The two old folks who just asked you about field hockey and what music all the kids were listening to these days suddenly became 23 again. Twenty-three with laugh lines and a couple gray hairs showing our wisdom, but still 23. We laugh easily, stress less, and we might even hold hands.

You gave us that.

As you help our kids brush their teeth, we get a few hours to reconnect. You’d be surprised how much ground you can cover in three hours of uninterrupted time. It’s been months since we have checked in about the current political climate, or how we feel about our team’s chances in the playoffs, or what we really want to be when we grow up. We’ll check our cell phones just once, because while we trust you immensely, we also want to make sure everyone is doing alright. When there aren’t any messages we know it’s because you have it all under control and are probably kicking up your feet to catch up on Netflix. We hope you found some good snacks; you deserve it.

For three hours, you give us the gift of security, youth, mental stimulation, a reignited flame, and a really great shrimp scampi. When you meet us in the kitchen at the end of the night to tell us that the kids were good listeners and that they snuggled in with you easily to read bedtime stories, you the put cherry on top of the sundae that is date night. With an easy smile, you hop back in your car and drive down the road not really knowing that you just gave us the boost we didn’t even know we needed.

So thank you, babysitter. We’ll be seeing you around the neighborhood. And hopefully sometime soon you’ll be walking in our door again as the kids chant your name. Then we’ll head out the door knowing you’ve got them, they’ve got you, and we still have us.

The Parents

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Becca Carnahan

Becca Carnahan is career coach, author, and mom from Massachusetts. Her writing combines funny and relatable parenting stories with career advice to make the whole process of finding or creating a career you love a lot more fun. Sign up for her weekly working mom newsletter at withlovebecca.com.

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