Thursday, February 19, 2009

Practice Parenthood

Thanks to the wonderful world of Facebook, I've recently reconnected with some of my most favorite kids in the whole world. Only they're not kids anymore. And I just can't even believe it.

Me with all the kids right before I moved.

My senior year of high school I babysat for a full time job. Ann, the mom, worked 12 hour shifts in the ER 3-4 days a week and occasional weekends. I got early dismissal from school so I could pick the younger two up from a neighbor and the oldest up from jr. high and get back just in time for Tara to walk home from school herself. Then we all had homework and dinner and chores and baths and bedtime and sometimes soccer practice or birthday parties and even school skate night. I stayed for the middle of the night feeding with the baby until Ann came home at 2-3am and I drove myself home.

Cute baby Madison

Ann had four kids in a pretty big age range...Brianne was 11, Tara 8, Derek 3 and Madison was just six weeks when I started babysitting. I don't remember it being hard or burdensome. (How is that possible?) In fact it was quite the opposite. I loved it. I couldn't have asked for a better job. I deeply and truly LOVE those kids.

Poor Derek sound a sleep in the family room.

When I moved away to go to college, they had saved up their own money so they could take me out do dinner and even gave me a going away gift. I laugh just thinking about my 17 year old self with four kids at Applebees. I was more then excited to go. I thought it was so sweet and really fun. I don't remember being nervous about it in the slightest. And now, with my own kids, I don't think I'd even attempt taking just three of them to a sit down place alone.

Madison and I had matching outfits.

Though I was really responsible with things like this, I was certainly oblivious to what a big job this was. It wasn't until I had my own kids that I realized what Ann was trusting me with. I watched them all pass milestones and adjust to life with Ann as a single mom. Though I did my best to help them through it all, I just didn't grasp it's significance.

I occasionally brought over my box of costumes. Tara LOVED the fancy dresses. I don't think I could have paid Brianne to put one on. But whether or not she admits it, she had fun sometimes, too.


Derek and Brianne

Brianne...who stuffed her shirt with a pillow.
If you can't tell by her arms she was super skinny.

I was way beyond excited to hear from Brianne and Tara on Facebook. Who are now (I'm guessing) 18 and 21. That's nuts. I expect everything to stay as I left it. And now they're grown ups and beautiful. I saw them occasionally when I was home from college visiting. They all came to my wedding, but that was nearly 7 years ago. So the nice friendship request on Facebook has had me thinking about these kids a lot lately. I miss them.

The neighbor kids came over quite often to play, too. I can't remember their names but the little girl wrote an essay about me in school...she wanted to be a babysitter when she grew up.

I don't think anything could have better prepared me for motherhood. I never really freaked out about having my first. In fact caring for him was very natural for me. I'm sure it's because I had done it before. Thanks for letting me practice on your kids, Ann. You're a brave woman.

Me and the kids at my wedding.


Kelly said...

I love all those old pictures! I think those 4 totally prepared you for what you are doing now! I babysat a lot then too- and when I think back to all the time I spent on the phone, it reminds me of the lack of attention I paid to them (not everytime, of course), and I see that it prepared me now for being on the phone with my own kids!! Kidding, sort of!
I used to watch a little girl when I was in college overnights while her single mom worked at the post office. I would get there around 8pm and put her to bed then get up when the mom got home and leave- it was a great gig- she just graduated HS- now I feel old!
It is so great to keep in touch via FB- as a matter of fact, tomorrow I am getting together with 2 girls I haven't seen since we graduated! I will do a post for sure!

Jen said...

How fun to reconnect. I bet you were the best babysitter. By the way, nice legs in the matching outfit picture:)

Curtis Whipple said...

There isn't a way to prepare for parenthood. If there was a point in life where we could say, OK, I'm ready, what would it look like? We are never ready but we do it anyway. I'm a guy and didn't do any baby sitting so it's even worse for me. The fact that both Javin and Shaw made it home from the hospital and they were still breathing was cause to dance the mamushka!

amelia said...

Don't you love Facebook? I have so much fun with it. I think back on my babysitting experiences, how I LOVED it, and now wonder how I did not think it was so stressful. I guess it's different with your own kids.

Lauri said...

that was quite the job! I'd forgotten about it. The thing I most freak out about it now is the fact that you were out till 2-3 in the morning and drove yourself home. (I'm sure you must have slept for part of that time.) Why didn't that concern me?

Autumn said...

How great that they were at your wedding! I LOVE finding old friends on facebook!!

Traci Elizabeth said...

I completely forgot about, how did you manage to wake up in time for seminary???

Super cute pictures, i love the wedding picture, I am still sad I missed that day!

jeanine said...

Wow, I had forgotten about that job! I agree with Traci... how DID you wake up for seminary? What a good babysitter you were!

jeanine said...

ps. I love the countdown ticker you have for when Gray goes to nursery :)

Kris said...

Katie, how special for you. And what an honor to know that you made such an impression on these young lives. And, I have to say, like your Mom said, my worry would have been you driving yourself home at such an hour! You were/are a remarkable kid!!!

Amanda B. said...

Wow! What a big job!! Especially for an 18 year old. I babysat a lot too, but not to that extent. I think you are right that you don't really understand the responsibility until you have your own. I think I was less nervous then too. Maybe it is because you know there is "back up"- you can always turn the decisions-and the kids- back to the parents as needed. But, now, it is up to us!
No wonder you had such a bond with them- you were really a second mom to them! That is amazing! :)

Kelly said...

how fun! i cant imagine taking care of 4 kids like that.. especially going to applebees... wow!

AshnRuss said...

I bet you were the best baby sitter! You have so many fun good ideas on how to entertain kids

jeanine said...

I hope you are feeling better soon so that you can enjoy the nice weather there!

jeanine said...

I hope you are feeling better soon so that you can enjoy the nice weather there!

Genn said...

What a neat job to have as a young senior in high school. And what a learning experience, and what a COOL babysitter you were! I love that the neighbor girl wrote an essay about wanting to be a babysitter just like you. That is really special. Thanks for sharing your pictures too.

The drama known as Greens.... said...

Oh the memories! I was a nanny for 2 1/2 years just before my mission. I still chat with my boys. I miss them terribly!!! It was my all time favorite job and these pics bring back so many memories. I actually just talked to my boys about a week ago, the oldest is getting ready for his mission! He was 7 when I started! Unbelievable! I guess I'm older than I like to think!