The Blessing of Babysitting

The last couple weekends, I have spent my rowdy evenings babysitting. While this would be a burden to many people, for me it’s an absolute blessing.

You see, I’ve always loved babies and children. Through the years, as my family and friends thought (hoped) this fascination would fade, it’s remained constant. Just last weekend, as I was proclaiming my philosophy on cloth diapering, my aunt remarked, “Well I guess you never really got over that baby thing did you?…”

Nope, not one bit. And while I don’t yet have children of my own, I have been so incredibly blessed over the years with the many many children I’ve gotten to care for and their kind parents who trust me with this task. As with ones own children, of course I don’t have favorites – each child and family is wonderful and unique and has taught me something different. But there is one family, one set of boys, who will always hold such a special place in my heart, for they were the first ones for whom I really truly babysat.

And today is a big day in our intertwined lives, because this happy little fella, Parker, the very first child I babysat, is turning sixteen. Sixteen!

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While it does make me feel old, it also makes me feel so very proud. So proud to see him grow from baby to boy to amazing young man, and so thankful to be a part of it all.

Our relationship started early. Shortly after Parker was born, I would wander over, a shy ten-year-old, to my new neighbors’ house and hesitantly ask his parents, “May I hold Parker?…” They never turned me away or told me I was too young; they welcomed me into their home, trusting me with their first sweet little baby. My visits became more and more frequent, often daily, and as time went on, his parents eventually began paying me to watch Parker. I was simply amazed that someone would actually pay me to do the very thing I loved most in the world – watch over little ones. I would, both then and now, happily do it for free. Yet, the fact that they paid me, that it was a real job, brought with it responsibility. So while I was watching over Parker as he grew, I hardly realized the growing I myself was doing. How this little boy was shaping the adult I was slowly becoming.

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When I graduated from high school, Parker’s momma, Julia (who has become a dear friend), wrote me the kindest note that said, among other sweet sentiments:

“You’ll know what you’ve meant to me when you have children of your own. When that time comes, I hope that you are lucky enough to live next to a ten-year-old girl just like yourself.”

Though that is the most amazing thing to hear, I already consider myself the lucky one. Lucky to be part of such an incredible child and family’s lives. Lucky to be trusted with the most sacred task of caring for their babies. Lucky to be taught so many invaluable lessons on life and parenting that only a child can impart.

So thank you Julia, Taylor, and all you other wonderful mommas and poppas who have blessed me over the years with taking care of their children. I am forever grateful for the the blessings and joy that you and your lovely little ones have brought to my life.

And happy birthday Parker – you rock!

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