Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I love your kids like they are my own...

Growing up, there were two things I wanted to be: a mother and a nurse. And while I temporarily lost sight of the nursing dream in the high school and college years, my desire to be a mother has never changed. I remember begging my mom for a little brother or sister all the time. There's pictures of me when I was six feeding and rocking a family friend's baby to sleep. I look like a mini-mom. And my love for children has only grown over time.

When I was 10, I took a babysitting course through St. Vincent Hospital that my parish was offering. I learned how to change a diaper, do CPR and the Heimlich maneuver (thankfully, I've never had to do either), and lots of other useful tips. When my cousin and his girlfriend welcomed their son on Halloween 1998, I was praying they would use me as a babysitter. So when JJ was probably around four months, they had me go over to my aunt and uncle's and take care of him (my uncle stayed, in case I needed him). And let me tell you, JJ did one heck of a job indoctrinating me into the life of a babysitter. To put it mildly, little man's digestive system apparently was working in overdrive. But I survived and wanted to keep taking care of kids. People in my neighborhood started calling and pretty soon, at the tender age of 12, I was babysitting all. the. time. It was my summer job for eight years. I wish I would have kept track of how much money I've made of the years.

Thinking back, I can't believe people would trust such a young girl to babysit. At 13, I took care of my neighbor's three kids who were three, two, and one. That summer, I took care of other neighbor's infant son and her two other sons, who were seven and eight. Every time she came home, the baby would be asleep on my chest. That was the only way he would sleep; he hated his crib. She called me the baby whisperer. It probably helps that I have always been more mature than most people my age, but now that I am to the age where I am starting to really, truly think about marriage and parenthood, I just can't imagine trusting a 13-year-old with the kinds of responsibilities I had at that age.

In high school, while every one else was going on dates, partying, and getting into trouble, I was making loads of moolah from babysitting three to four days a week. I absolutely comprised my social life, but I didn't really care. The party scene wasn't for me. I'm a goody goody through and through. And I formed lasting bonds with families I absolutely adore. And families that trust me more than anything and gave me wonderful recommendations for the few times I've had a "real" job. I took a stab at jobs where I had to pay taxes (I had three jobs at school and the summer of '08 I worked at Stein Mart), but I always come back to babysitting.

When I decided to go to nursing school, I was struggling to find a job in Indy that would be totally flexible with my schedule. After being a major bum from May-October, I pretty much realized babysitting was my best option. But since my former kids were old enough now to take care of themselves and I lost connections while I lived in Ohio the past four years, I turned to craigslist.com, and what a great idea that was! I met one of the greatest families I have ever had the privilege of taking care of. I adore their two sons (4, 2.5) and daughter (9 mos). I spend a minimum of 10 hours with them a week, but usually upwards of 18. I love the kids like I know I'll love my own. Two of the other three families I take care of came from word of mouth... family and friends recommended me. And the third is for my cousin. I have four wonderful families I help out weekly. And I've also had the honor of playing mom for a week to three rambunctious girls (who I am also taking care of for five days next week!).

So as I've rambled about the past 11 years of my life and how much of it has been spent with other people's children, I realize one thing: I am going to be beyond prepared for parenthood when the day comes. I've babysat ages six weeks - 14 years. Babes with colic and back talking teens. And while I know full time motherhood is going to be more work, I think I'll be ready. I feel so incredibly blessed to have had these experiences and that people trust me to care for their kids. It is a huge compliment. And one I truly appreciate. And it's no wonder I have also chosen a career where I plan on working with babies. It's my comfort zone, without a doubt. So while I finish school, I am going to continue caring for the kids I'm with now and enjoy every ounce of time I have with them. Because Lord knows by the time I'm out of school, the babysitting days will be over and my next degree pursuit will be for the M.R.S., with kids soon to follow.

1 comment:

denise said...

Recently I have wondered how parents allowed me to babysit their kids too when I was so young. I can't imagine my sisters (or eventually me) allowing a 12 year old to watch the kids. Times have changed a lot in the last 15 years!!

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