I have always loved children. Since I can remember, if there was a baby in the room I would either be holding it, or wishing I was. So naturally, as I got older, I started to help care for children. When I was seven I was a mother’s helper to a couple of mothers on my street. I would go over a couple of hours an afternoon and I would just play with their children while they got work done. Occasionally I would get to hold their babies, and that would make my day (actually, it would make my month.) I believe this is what God used to turn my love for children into a passion. When I was ten, I got my first real babysitting job. I will always remember that night. I was babysitting twin six year old boys and a three year old boy. The whole night when wonderful, until I was sitting on the couch, with all the kids in bed and asleep (so I thought) and I hear a little whimper. As I go upstairs to check on the little boy, I find him laying in he bed with blood all over himself and his sheets. Now let me pause here and explain how my brain works. When there is an emergency I do not freak out, my mind just goes a million miles per hour. I react very quickly in those types of situations, and my type A brain can figure out every logistic needed in 5-seconds flat. Now back to the original story. Of course when I see the blood everywhere, I react, and get the situation under control. Fortunately, the boy only had a bloody nose that had gotten everywhere, and he was cleaned up and back to sleep in only 15 minutes. That, was my first ever babysitting job. Many followed after that, including a time when I would go and help with my cousins (who were 2, 1 and newborn) every Wednesday afternoon. This was one of the best learning experiences of my babysitting years. I worked beside a grandma, who taught me many of the basics of caring for a child, and I got hand on experience while learning!
Though all of those things were great, the life altering thing that has happened to me was not a job, or even a specific family. It was a moment in time when God reveled something to me that I will never, ever forget.
I was in Aspen, my first year (I have been back every year since then) and the six older children were sitting down to dinner, while the parents rushed around in the kitchen preparing the dinner for the adults. I had just set the baby (who was six-months at the time) down to play on a blanket while I helped make dinner. As I picked up a toy to give him to play with, I remember double checking to make sure it was not too small. After I had been in the kitchen for about five minutes the babies older sister, suddenly screamed the baby’s name and ran into the living room. As soon as she did that, I of course ran in too. What a saw, right, in that moment, changed my life forever. The baby was laying on the ground with the toy I had given him lodged in his mouth. Now the toy, though big enough so he could never actually fit the whole thing in his mouth, had an end that he was able to fit in his mouth. (just to keep you from dying of suspense, the dad got there before me and quickly got the toy out of the baby’s mouth. The baby was perfectly fine.) As I stood their, watching the dad take the toy out of his mouth, God hit me hard with a very important realization.:
Babysitting is not just for fun, for money, or because it is something I enjoy doing. Each and every time a mother leaves her child with me, she is placing her child’s life in my hands. Every bit of it. I am responsible for a human being.
As I was hit with that realization, I ran racing into the kitchen and fell into the mother’s arms (the mother of the baby) and told her what had just happened. Of course she forgave me, and we moved on, but I think of the moment frequently.
To all of those mother’s out there who have let me take care of their children over the years, thank you. You will never know all the lesson’s your children have taught me, and how much I treasure each moment I spend with everyone of them.
To all of you who care for children yourselves, please remember that the reason you are getting paid is to care for actual living, breathing, human beings, and consider yourself privileged that you get the chance to do so.