That's what I tell people who look askance at me when I tell them Cliff and I are babysitting these days. And then I fill in the blanks.
It all began when Adam, the guy who has kept his horses on our property for several years, found out he was going to be a father. The pregnancy was a bit of a surprise to both future parents, and it turned out not to be such an easy pregnancy. There were problems that made us all wonder if the baby would make it through to full-term.
When I first learned there was going to be a baby, I was overtaken with the desire to have an infant around. It had been years! We have a great-granddaughter, but we really don't have much of a relationship with her. We see her once or twice a month when she visits my daughter and her family. I suddenly longed to hold and rock a tiny infant again, and I couldn't help but wonder if perhaps this couple would allow us to babysit their child.
But what would Cliff think? We would be tied down. Being in charge of someone's baby is a big responsibility... was I ready for that, and was Cliff? So I broached the subject with him, expecting to hear him say, "Hell no!"
And that would be that.
But somehow the same bug that had bitten me seemed to have gotten to him, because he thought it was a wonderful idea. Believe me, three years earlier we wouldn't have been of the same mind.
I hadn't mentioned this to Adam and Amber yet, and I was somewhat nervous about bringing it up, afraid my offer to babysit would be rejected. Turns out it was like an answer to their prayers, and they were thrilled with the prospect of having babysitters a couple of miles down the road, someone they knew and trusted.
Cliff and I had many discussions while we were waiting for "our" baby: We would be tied down, but we hardly go anywhere these days anyhow. My garden might suffer (it did), but as I told Cliff, I don't have to have a garden. I'd rather have a baby around. Then there are the cows, but I could always sell the cows and get others in a couple of years (that wasn't necessary). So, we were prepared to make whatever sacrifices necessary for that baby. It was an opportunity we didn't even realize we had longed for until it presented itself.
Then she was born, and when she was four or five days old, her parents invited us to come and meet her.
She was so tiny I refused to pick her up from her bed... I asked her mother to pick her up and hand her to me. My babies and grandbabies were all big as newborns, and this tiny thing seemed fragile in my arms.
She was about six weeks old when we started babysitting, the most beautiful child I thought I had ever seen.
She kept me plenty busy, but Cliff and I both fell in love with her. Any time she was awake, she was moving, kicking and batting the air with her hands. She smiled easily and often.
As she grew older, she turned all lovey and huggie, and is still that way at eighteen months of age. She voluntarily hugs each of us every single morning and throughout the day, laying her head on our shoulders and patting us. That freely-given affection is therapeutic to a couple of old folks like us. Even when she throws a typical toddler tantrum, if you pick her up in the middle of it she will start hugging and patting as she cries.
She's gone to visit her grandparents in Iowa for a few days, and while Cliff, especially, bemoans the fact that she won't be with us during that time, I remind him that it's a good thing for all concerned: Cora gets to form a real relationship with her distant relatives, which is great for all concerned; and Cliff and I don't get into the habit of taking her for granted. In this case, absence does make the heart grow fonder.
Everything about this story, I say, is a God thing, simply from the way the pieces of the puzzle came together to make a perfect situation for us all. I don't know how long we will be babysitting this little girl, but I do know that when it comes to an end, whether it's when her parents find the place in the country they long for, or perhaps when she starts school, that, too, will be a "God thing", and it will be the perfect ending for all of us. Any relationship that began so magically is bound to end exactly the way it's supposed to.