Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Beauty of Babysitters

Last weekend we hired a babysitter, with two small children this has become an increasingly familiar task. Each time I pick one up, or pay her at the end of the night I think to myself, I used to do that.

Before I was a mother, I was a babysitter, before I was a babysitter I was babysat.

Let's face it, I'm getting old. It's harder to recall specific conversations or events that took place with my friends or my sisters, I'm even getting lax in mentally recording every word I've ever said to my husband (in case he forgets!). My memories of middle school are all but gone (perhaps intentionally blocked?), memories of high school are fading fast, and even college memories are becoming a bit hazy. So it's surprising to me that there are a handful of memories, moments, people, who are frozen in my mind, who have not drifted off or faded away.

I can still remember my first favorite babysitter, Blair. She had gorgeous long black hair, she was our next door neighbor, and only had brothers. Our families were friends so maybe that's why I remember her so well, but I can clearly recall just her me and Claire sitting in our basement family room at our first house. I can remember asking her about her boyfriends, playing barbies and coloring with her. I can even recall her jeans and a warm chunky off white sweater she wore once. At some point they moved away, and several years later she got married. At her wedding she showed true joy of seeing me again, she said there was no way I could be so old, I was still her little girl, she made me feel important, beautiful, special.

I remember her because she left an impact on me. So, if that is true, why can I remember the families I babysat for so well?

I babysat a lot in high school. Most of my friends had jobs by the time they were sophomores or at least the summer after, but I was kept afloat by babysitting until the middle of my senior year, and even a few summers in college. Even then I had a love for children, and a weak spot for little girls that led to my desire to have a daughter of my own one day (I'm sure God had a good chuckle when I made those plans). There were several families over the years, but two in particular, 7 kids in all, really stand out as being special.

The Warwicks and the Rices. Each for different reasons, each with different activities. I remember rocking the youngest two Rice children to sleep (at different times) and looking down at their sweet precious faces. I would hold them longer than necessary, let them sleep in my arms while I quietly watched reruns on Nick at Night. I remember making ghosts out of tissues to decorate the Warwick home for Halloween on my first time babysitting them. Laying on the floor reading them stories. I remember playing dinosaurs and sports with the oldest boys and watching princess movies with the girls.

I remember the smiles, hugs, and laughter when I would walk through the doors. I remember the "Teresa can we..." that rang through the homes as the parents said their goodbyes. I remember dolling out time outs, wiping away tears, picking up playrooms, changing dirty diapers, making meals, and feeling at peace. Even with four kids under the age of five. Even with two wild toddlers and an infant.

{{{Can I get some of that peace back? That wild confidence, joy and contentment? It would really help with raising my own two children!}}}

Part of the reason I can remember them so clearly is because babysitting gave me a sense of purpose. Making the kids happy, being their favorite was a high honor, I enjoyed coming up with things to do to excite them and impress their parents. The other part of why they are so dear to me, is because of their parents. These four adults, above the rest, took an interest in me. I remember talking about my life with them, them offering to pray for me and my mother. I can recall their warm voices as they called asking me if I was available, and their generosity around the holidays. I looked forward to being picked up and dropped off almost as much as I looked forward to seeing the kids.

These adults knew that I was still young, responsible and yet impressionable, and they poured into me respect and love. I remember being told I was the first person they called, or once at church when Mrs. Warwick and my mother had to go upfront the husband found me afterwards and said "I was so worried because I didn't know where the baby was, then I saw you holding him and I relaxed knowing he was in good hands."

So now, here I am an adult. The one hiring babysitters, the one responsible for two little ones of my own and finding them quality sitters. We've had many good sitters over the years, but right now we are blessed with two wonderful sitters (and one up and coming! If she lived closer she'd be hooked already), our go to girls, who the boys love so much. Who we adore.

Not the greatest pictures but here I am with both of our current go to girls
(right next to me) and one whose already gone on and is almost done with college!
Again, this picture is two years old, but these are my sweet girls, together. 

Two young Christian women, swimming their way through the awkward and confusing high school years. Every time I have them over, I make sure to spend a little more time with them than I think is necessary, lingering before or after their services are required. Asking questions about their lives, taking an interest in things they are interested in. Hugging them, and nurturing them the way I was hugged and nurtured. Encouraging them, the way I was encouraged.

I wasn't blessed with daughters of my own, but I've had the honor of having two much younger sisters, babysitting for many beautiful little darlings, and now all of my dearest friends have little girls, and we have babysitters. So many opportunities to pour into the lives of these young ones, pray for them, be the "aunt" my moms best friends, and the roll models/the encourage-ers Mrs. Warwick and Mrs. Rice were to me.

Top: My sisters. Bottom: My sons and  my nieces
That my friends, is beauty and privileged that I don't want to take for granted.

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