My first babysitting job was the summer between my 7th and 8th grade year. I was around 13 or 14 years old and was asked to babysit for a family who lived in my neighborhood. The mother would pick me up each morning before she went to work and most afternoons I would walk home. My duties included preparing breakfast, lunch, and two snacks a day; cleaning up from each meal and snack; laundry and light house work; playing a variety of games with the girls; taking them swimming; etc.
My next babysitting job was initially to be a summer job watching after twins who were 3, about to turn 4. I babysat them until the end of their 3rd grade year/my senior year which is when they moved to Kansas with their mom. We spent most of our days during the summer following a pretty tight schedule that I had made for us in an effort to provide structure to our day. Swim lessons, dance lessons, t-ball practice, and soccer practice is mainly what dictated our schedule but we incorporated an hour each day both children to enjoy the arts such as painting, drawing, and even theater. (I wish I could find the photos for senior yearbooks). Strawberry milk heated for 30seconds, Pink Baby (stuffed rabbit), and Pipa (travel pillow with satin green pillow case) were always a part of our day. When it came time for my little ones to go to K4, I was there at 715am to pick them up from home and take them to school. They were dismissed a little before high school so each day at 245, there teacher would walk them to the high school building to sit with me until 3pm. Once dismissed, we ran to the car out of pure excitement that school was out. Of course they were just four so they were not sure what the excitement was truly about just glad to be a part of it I am sure. My mom always said that in an effort to make my brother feel just as special as he did before I was born, she would pick him up from school and they would talk the entire way home just the two of them without any distractions. Considering that once home she had a new baby, supper and household chores. That stuck with me and so each afternoon while on the way home I would turn the music off and we would talk with each one sharing something about the day. Once at home, I would get them both something to drink because they were dying of thirst, EVERYDAY. Bless their hearts. After school time varied depending on home work which did not come until 1st grade. However, we would take time to review and discuss each one's file folder that included signed papers, letters to home, and daily reports by the teacher for a parent to initial and/or respond. I had two perfect angels so never anything serious. Their dad was home by 430 each afternoon so that pretty much would sum up our afternoons. Our time together was spent just like it would have been with their mom except for maybe a little more focus on the kids being that I did not have any household duties or a dinner to prepare each night, and I knew I had a little more than an hour before I passed them on to a parent.
In 2002 my sister had her first child while also going through a difficult time herself. When my niece was just three months old, I met my sister halfway between where she was living and home to pick up a baby. Obviously my mother, father, and grandparents provided for her but I so much loved caring for her and loving her. She was, is and will always be my heart. Through my experience of helping to raise her, I learned that no one is going to love one’s child the way a parent/guardian does but a parent/guardian does not have to be a biological parent to love a child unconditionally the way God loves us, or as a parent is to love a child. There are no duties/responsibilities; it is a way of life. Taking care of my niece and all that it encompasses was my life, and became my friend’s life too.
I met one of my greatest friends in January of 2010 when I began volunteering at a local high school. She had two nephews who lost their mother in March of 2011. What started out as me helping “here and there” turned into so much more. There dad was working 50(+) hours and not around very often. I would give the kids a ride home from school and when I tried leaving it was like their eyes pulled my heart strings right back into the drive. I ended up with two “adopted” sons who are now, 13 and 18 years old. You name it, I did it. I picked them up from school, checked homework, cooked supper, did laundry, cleaned house, laid out school clothes for the next day, packed practice bags, washed football pants and jerseys, met with teachers to discuss holding one back, met with principals to discuss transferring one to private school, paid a tutor to help with senior term paper, took off work to take a sick child to the doctor, wiped tears, fixed broken hearts and teenage entitlement. Those boys gave my life a sense of meaning and purpose that I had never experienced. I attribute all that I am to my savior Jesus Christ, my mother who has shown me unconditional love, my nieces and nephew, and two adopted sons.
I also taught high school for the past three years.