I visit teach a lady who lives down the street from me. She had a baby earlier this year and I get lots of last minute calls asking if I could watch the baby for a few minutes or so while she runs a quick errand.
I honestly don’t mind watching her baby for her. Very rarely does it take longer than a half hour, and I’m practically never doing anything so important that it can’t wait that long. No it isn’t fun, but I understand how much of a relief it can be to know that you don’t *always* have to drag the baby along to the post office, or the car dealership, or the doctor, or or or.
Like many new mothers she’s wracked with guilt and doubt, and repeatedly apologizes for asking me to babysit. One day while trying to soothe her I found myself saying “It really doesn’t bother me. If it ever is a problem I promise I’ll say ‘no’.”
That’s why the last time she called asking me to watch the baby in a few hours I said ‘no.’ My kitchen sink was leaking (which meant I’d have to do dishes in the bathtub (which meant I hadn’t done dishes since it started leaking (which meant the kitchen was an absolute nightmare))) and the landlords were missing in action, the kids were at school but it was only a half day, I was supposed to have a church meeting with a friend later that day, and I had a billion other things I had planned on getting done while the kids were school. On that day watching the baby would have been a problem.
It was harder than I’d expected to turn her down. She had a doctors appointment, and would need to reschedule it. I could hear her baby crying in background while she was on the phone with me, and I could remember feeling the same way she must have felt.
But I had to be honest with myself and with her. If she was going to believe me when I said “I don’t mind!” Then she had to know that I would be honest with her and tell her when I did mind.
I still feel bad that she had to reschedule her doctors appointment, but I think it was good for our friendship. I think there’s more trust between us than there was before. Funny how honesty can do that for a relationship.