I had a flashback to when I was about fifteen this past Sunday - because you know what I was doing? Babysitting.
A good friend of mine in grad school has a wife and a baby. I can't believe their daughter is a year old now - I remember like it was yesterday making a meal to take them as new parents.
I was talking to the husband over coffee one day, and he was explaining how he and his wife coordinate their schedules so that someone is always home taking care of the baby (his wife works part time), and how it's expensive to use daycare when they have to both be away. So it occurred to me that they probably never have any time to themselves, and after mulling it over a couple days I offered to babysit for them if they ever needed a night out just the two of them.
You have never seen such a look of relief as what came over this guy's face - I didn't realize how hard it must have been on them in the past year. I have a lot of respect for those who can manage a family while in grad school, just like I have a lot of respect for those who work while they are in school. In both cases, I can't even imagine how they handle it all - I have my hands full having done undergrad and grad school WITHOUT having to work or raise kids!
I offered to babysit on a Wednesday, I think, and the very next Sunday I found myself knocking on the door to their apartment. Offer eagerly accepted, I'd say!
It was so darn cute to see the wife dressed up in a cute outfit and heels, and the husband similarly in a smart button down and slacks - clearly they were excited about date night!
The little girl was an absolute dream to babysit. No fussing at all. She and I played catch with a little ball for a straight 45 minutes... she was all into that! I have to admit my diaper-changing skills were a little rusty. When I was changing her, she kind of looked at me slant-wise, as if to say, "You really aren't very good at this, are you?" Well, gees, I'm working on it kid... :)
And I have forgotten how soothing it is to sit and read a book to a small body curled up in your lap, sucking on a sippy cup of milk. And how it pulls your heart strings when they start to get sleepy, rubbing their eyes and nuzzling a stuffed animal as you put them down to bed.
I have no plans to have a family any time in the near future, but the whole thing reminded me how strong the motherly instinct is, and how precious children are.
And, at least for now, how nice it is to give back the kid at the end of the day when the parents get home! :)