Tell me if I'm crazy. Before my niece even decided to have a baby she asked me if I would care for it when she went back to work. How could I say no? The obvious answer to that question, of course, is simple – you just put the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth, right behind your front teeth, to make a nnnnnn sound, then you purse your lips into a circle to make an oooooo sound. Then you simply put the two together and say no No NO NO! NO! NO!!!! But I couldn't do it. She is my niece after all, I love her, and she needed me. Because let's face it, professional daycare can be both expensive and worrisome.
Expensive goes without saying. Having a perfect stranger see to every single need of your helpless, hungry, crying, coughing, needy, nasty, peeing, pooping, perfect bundle of joy nine hours a day don't come cheap. And worrisome? Well, let's go ahead and say it - there is the "perfect stranger" part of it, isn't there? Entrusting the most precious thing in your life to a stranger no matter how "perfect" tends to make you worry. And even if you happen to stumble upon the very best daycare facility in the world, and there are many very good ones, it is, after all, a facility (the very word sounds cold). It's not an Absolutely-Guaranteed-Bastion–Against-The-World, inhabited and fiercely guarded by someone you already know and trust. It's not a warm and comfy nest filled with love, laughter, pleasant cooking smells, and lots of personal attention. It's not a home. It's not family.
And so, when asked if I would step into the breach, shoulder the responsibility, and take on the hypothetical task, I said "sure". Then she went and got pregnant. Worse than that, she actually gave birth - to a girl. Named her Kiley. She's six weeks old now; soft, plump, cute as a button, and coming to me tomorrow.
Am I nervous? Yes.
Am I stressing? Yes!
Am I panicking? Yes!!!!!!!
Am I sorry I agreed to this? No.
And that's because there is more to my decision than just wanting to help my niece. There is also a desire, a need, a longing to have a little one again. To need and be needed. To love and be loved. To help mold and shape another mind, heart, and spirit. For what they say about the hand that rocks the cradle is true, and Kiley will walk through life with my hand on her head, my voice in her ear, and the memory of me in her heart. What we will share and give to each other is beyond the ability of words to express, as every woman who has loved a child knows. How can I turn my back on that?
And so I'm getting ready. I've accumulated all the equipment I'll need – bottles, high chair, car-seat, bassinet, crib, toys, you name it, I've got it. I'm ready. How hard can it be after all? I took care of Kiley's mother when she was a baby and she was a twin with another sister two years old, so I was juggling those three plus two pre-schoolers of my own. Compared to that this should be a cakewalk - no problem. Of course, then I was twenty-seven years old. Now, I'm fifty-seven. Am I crazy? I'll keep you posted. Wish me luck.