I began my babysitting career as a mother's helper to a darling little one year old named Caleb. That is, I took care of Caleb while his mom worked from home. It was probably the best way for me to learn how to care for such a little guy.
From there I moved on to looking after the kids of the couples in my parents' young marrieds Sunday School class. I cuddled with Aubrey and Georgia Mae, while the adults carved pumpkins or exchanged White Elephant Christmas gifts.
I eventually took my talents to the Brubaker family. I loved my regular nights with Emily and Grace. We played board games, watched movies, and ate frozen pizza. They lived only a few miles from me and the convenience made for an enticing first real babysitting job. Combined with the evenings with the McAteer kids, I was rich for an 8th grader.
We made cookies for the neighbors down the road when they first moved in. They turned out to be the McAteer family and they were wonderful. Kevin, Pamela, Kevin Jr (6), Amanda (4), and Christopher (2) were perfect. If I remember correctly I met them in the summer of 2006. Pamela battled leukemia and I treasured the evenings I relieved her and her husband from child duty in order to for them to spend date nights together. On February 17, 2007 Pamela McAteer lost her fight with cancer. She was 36 years old. I went to her visitation to say goodbye and to help take care of little Christopher. "Mommy" was embroidered on the inside of the casket and I hugged Mr. McAteer, telling him how much I wished I'd known her longer. He said to me "you still can through her kids. "I remember babysitting the kids for the first time since Pamela died. It was hard to be in her home with the knowledge that she wasn't ever returning. Christopher threw a fit at bedtime, screaming for "daddy put me down." I ended up crying by the end when he started calling for mommy. Amanda reacted differently, turning stony when bedtime came around. She asked me to stay out of her room and I saw her take a picture of her mom from her bedside table and look at it before going to bed.
I hated moving away from both the Brubakers and the McAteers, but I made it a priority to see them both during my first trip back to North Carolina in 2009. The fact that the Brubaker girls wanted to have a sleepover with me made me feel like super babysitter.
In Oklahoma, I found a new favored family in the Sauers. Gabriella and DJ played together like angels and I always felt like Jeanne, their mother, was actually interested in me as a person and not just as a caretaker for her children. Sadly, they've moved away to Pittsburgh, but I love keeping up with them on Facebook!
Those are the best kinds of families. The ones who encourage continued contact with their children. The ones who invite you to the violin recitals and 5th grade graduations. A friend told me I'd make a great mom. I vehemently disagree, but A Very Lucky Girl has always enjoyed time with the younger crowd every once in a while.