Dexter is at a stage now where he does not want to leave when I arrive to pick them up. Sunday, he started saying he wanted to see her, her son, and her husband around 6pm and would.not.let.up. Theo, when asked who his best friend is, often answers with her name.
We've been through a lot together. She was there for Theo's first birthday. And for Dexter's 14 months later. She had a challenging pregnancy and worked every day of it. We celebrated her son's first birthday earlier this year. I don't know how she's survived in all this boy madness for the last three years, but she does a damn good job of it.
When we set out to find childcare, we weighed the pros and cons of a home sitter versus a daycare center. At the time, my work schedule was weird and we liked the idea of having some flexibility with paying for only a certain number of days per week. We liked the idea of fewer kids. We liked the idea of someone who would not only teach them things, but nurture them as well.
We interviewed two other ladies who ran in-home daycares. Meaning, they were stay at home moms who did nothing but let their toddlers watch t.v. all day and were just looking to make some extra cash. That was not what we were looking for. When we interviewed our sitter, she had prepared folders with contracts and examples of schedules depending on the age of the children. She explained that the children would not watch television and would be involved in scheduled learning activities daily. We discovered that she had her degree in elementary education and teaching was her passion. The choice was easy.
We feared that there would be issues with reliability. Having only one caregiver meant if she called in sick, so did we. This lady...can I just tell you? This lady has never called in sick. Oh, well...unless you count that time her newborn son was in the hospital for a week. We gave her a pass on that. :-)
Ryan and I have both switched jobs in the past three years and the kids' schedule has increased from 3.5 days per week to 5 days per week. As hard as it was to give up the extra time with them when I switched jobs last August, I know they are in great hands and they are somewhere that they love and want to be.
She not only teaches them, she loves them. And we love her and her family. We found her through Care.com and took a chance. I'll never forget the sick feeling I had in my stomach the first time I left Theo there. I couldn't shake the thought "but she doesn't love him." I didn't want to leave my tiny baby in the care of someone who was practically a stranger. Someone who didn't love him. Someone who didn't know exactly how he liked to be bounced when he was grumpy. It didn't take long before I had total trust in this amazing woman and it became clear that she grew to love him very quickly. The day I left Dexter was sad too, but only because I knew I would miss him. She loved him before I ever dropped him off.
We've taken for granted the peace of mind we have with where are kids are, day in and day out. She certainly spends more waking hours with them during the week than we do. It would be ridiculous to say that she isn't shaping them into the little people they are becoming. We couldn't have chosen anyone better to help us do just that.
I tell her from time to time that while some people may think that she doesn't have an "important" job, to me she has the absolute MOST important job in the world. Keeping my kids safe and happy when I can't. There is no way to put into words what a huge responsibility we have placed on her or the gratitude we feel for her. We expect a lot from her. She delivers.
I'm not a person who goes around using the term 'blessed' very often. But when I think of how this relationship has turned out, that's how I feel.
So thank you, to our babysitter extraordinaire/teacher/nurturer/potty trainer/food fixer/cheerleader/toy finder/craft coordinator/endlessly energized and all around amazing lady. And happy birthday.