This is my son with his babysitter and friend Alyssa. She was the first non-family babysitter we ever trusted with our kids, and we are so bummed that she's moving. We love her!
Saying goodbye to her made me think about when I babysat for my neighbors, years ago.
Before I had kids, I had a pretty good view of the mom I thought I would be. You see, back when I was the age that babysitting was cool, I was a really good babysitter.
I brought my whole little babysitting kit, complete with special toys, stickers, crafts, and a treat. This was before cell phones, and I had no reason to plop the kids in front of a movie: I was a hands-on babysitter. We made up plays, did art projects, made blanket forts, had little dance parties and read piles of books. I nearly always sang the kids to sleep, and then dutifully went downstairs and did the dishes. (Seriously, I cannot believe I did all this for a couple bucks an hour!)
Babysitting was fun for me, and there were rarely any diapers, tantrums, or disciplining involved... and I thought that was what being a mom would be like.
How could I have ever known?
Being a mom is hard. So hard. It has stretched me in ways I never would have thought possible. My viewpoint as a babysitter was seriously all fun and games- I watched some great kids, and got to experience some really good memories with them.
But babysiting--when you're responsible for a few hours--is totally different than motherhood, where you are not only responsible 24/7, but you are invested in the future of those kids. I was somewhat aware that I would encounter more diapers and messes then I every saw babysitting, but the huge difference for me was how much you could care about those children... about YOUR children.
Here's the thing- being a mom is so hard, but it also brings SO much joy. In the same way that it's harder than I every expected, it is more rewarding than I could ever imagine. I have this little baby, this child, that is mine and my husband's and we are somehow being entrusted with his life and education and upbringing.
It is incredible to watch your child, YOUR child, learn and grow and figure things out. There are so many sweet moments- from those early coos and smiles to the first steps, to when they start saying "I love you too." And, obviously my eldest is still pretty young, but I hear that these moments just keep getting better and better. Oh, being a mom is so wonderful!
Now, there are certainly days when I do not think being a mom is wonderful. Kids are kids. Things break. You're late. There are little messes and then there are Big Messes. Laundry is never ending. Someone is always sick, someone is needy. Such is life as a parent. But I'm finding that it helps to have the right perspective. The days are long but the years are short. This too will pass.
Perspective is everything. Motherhood is both hard and wonderful: I get to choose my attitude from moment to moment. I'm trying to choose joy more often.