Two years ago, when I was ending my maternity leave from teaching, I needed to find someone to watch Addie when I headed back to school for spring semester. It needed to be someone who lived on campus, someone who could bring Addie to me between classes so that I could nurse her, someone who I trusted with my tiny baby. I wasn't worried about finding someone--teaching at a conservative Christian university means there are a lot of girls who are eager to watch babies--but I still had to find someone.
And just at the right time, an email popped into my box from a former student who had remembered me saying that I would need someone to watch Addie.
DeAnna was an answer to my prayers.
For two years, DeAnna and her roommate Lily have watched over Addie. They watched her go from tiny baby to big kid toddler. They were part of all the milestones--from first tooth, to sitting up, crawling, eating solids, walking, running, talking, demanding they share their chips and cookies with her--they were part of it.
They took her to the cafeteria, the coffee shop, the library. They introduced her to staff and faculty, students and family members. In fact, I think it's fair to say that Addie knows so many people that more people know me as Addie's mom than Professor S.
All these experiences helped make Addie the happiest kid. She travels well, she transitions well, she is fearless about exploring new places. She has grown up believing that wherever she goes, people love her and watch over her. Certainly, she has her moments of shyness and preference--she is two, afterall--but the experience of being loved on a college campus has been permanently marked into her personality.
DeAnna and Lily have given Addie all this. They have read to her, sang songs with her, laughed with her, and done everything you would hope someone who takes care of your child would do.
It's worth mentioning all these things simply because they are important, but today they are extra important to say because yesterday was Addie's last day of going down to Corban with me.
Even though she's a good traveler, and even though it's only two days a week, it's hard to expect a two-year old to consistently love spending 3 hours in the car, particularly since she doesn't nap as much as she used to. She's also trying to potty-train and long commutes just don't work well with that.
On the one hand, it will be easier to get to school without her. I won't have to sing Old MacDonald over and over and over again. I won't need to recite "Brown Bear Brown Bear" 20 times in a row (yesterday's record). I won't need to find ways to keep her awake on the ride home so that she will still go to sleep at her regular bedtime.
But I won't get to hold her hand as we walk down the campus stairs. Won't get to hear her say "handy!" from the back seat and give her my hand as she falls asleep. Won't see her draw on my white board anymore, won't see her wave bye-bye to DeAnna and Lily.
I cried a lot yesterday, and I'm crying now as I write this. It isn't as though I won't see DeAnna and Lily again, or that they won't see her. We're all still here. It's just that this season has ended, and it has been such a rewarding experience for all of us. My words here are only a fraction of how thankful I am for these two ladies, and the others who have helped them with their Tuesdays and Thursdays. For Christa. For William. For Jeffrey. For Andee.
These people came into Addie's life and left love in her life and mine.
What a gift for which I will be forever grateful.