In March of 2013 it was time for kindergarten registration; our first child was going to be starting school. We drove to registration, our little guy at home with his Nan, and we stood anxiously in line with all the other parents. nervous and excited all at once. This was a big deal for us, and it was our first time at our school (minus voting). We worked very hard to stay in this neighborhood so our kids could attend this school, but so far all we had really benefited from the school was it's big jungle gym. Finally, we were going to get going.
I myself was feeling horrible from early pregnancy symptoms, so I was not the most outgoing or friendly person. My husband is always very social and instantly stuck up a conversation with a lady who was behind us in line. I remember simply trying not to vomit, but he stood in line and chatted with her and her little girls. She had these two beautiful blond haired, blue eyed girls with her. Before I knew it, Hubby was asking her about teachers and the various programs the school offered. It turns out she has a very precocious son who sounded very similar to T. She offered suggestions on teachers and advice on entering school and we parted ways thinking we might someday encounter her again after school started. When we got to the front of the line, we followed her suggestion regarding a teacher request. Again, my Hubby did the talking, mostly because I was checked out, again trying not to vomit on anyone. And to be clear, at our school, you cannot 'choose' a kindergarten teacher, but you can request one. So he did! We left the school feeling good. Everything was SO positive.
Fast forward a few months to August when my mother became severely ill and spent a week in the hospital. A bad combination of drugs led her to stage 3 kidney failure and a really rough patch. Today, she has bounced back pretty well, but it seems certain now she won't ever be at the level of energy she was at prior to that August. I should also mention that for years, my mother has been our on-call babysitter and and auxiliary caregiver, so she has been pretty pivotal in our kids' lives. Well, only a couple weeks before she got sick, Hubby found himself between jobs. It was actually divine providence again he was available because our child care situation would have been a train wreck without his being free to take care of everyone. I was working as many extra days as possible in preparation for maternity leave, sometimes 3 and 4 days a week. I wanted to have my maternity leave fully paid for, you see. With my mother too sick to watch kids, and me working almost every day, having Hubby at home for the kids was a miracle. He never would have been able to get that kind of time off from his old work.
In late August, T's school started. As it turned out, the daughter of the the nice lady from the Kindergarten registration line was in T's class! Every day Hubby would drop of T (with sister watching) and meet the nice lady and her kids dropping off her daughter. Later each day Hubby would pick up T and there was the nice lady waiting for her daughter. Hubby would come home saying he had visited with for all of 10 minutes, chatting the universal language of parenting and exchanging stories of our daughters latest antics. Hubby remembered sharing a particularly difficult tantrums with her and she gave him very calm and caring advice that seriously helped him weather other tantrums. I remembered I would sometimes see this woman and she was always nice to me, but I always forget her name! I remembered it I could not recall how the "a" sound was pronounced. Probably pregnancy brain related.... Can we just say it was that??? Anyway, Hubby would share our tales of false labor and the nice lady was always kind to offer any type of help possible. He even told me she was going to school in preparation for graduate school at the same place I went to graduate school! He kept saying that this person and I had a ton in common but I was so consumed with hormones and getting a baby out of my body that I developed a deaf ear when such a topic came up.
The due date for the baby was rapidly approaching and I was starting to get a little concerned about who was going to take care of the baby. My Mother was still not well. We were calling local daycares and getting on waiting lists, but my heart would always sink thinking about our baby being in an institutional setting while away from me. Hubby was only without a job for about 6 weeks, so the big kids had transferred to JFK and were loving it. However, children must be 3 years old to be able to go there. What were we going to do?
Hubby suggested he email the nice lady and ask for advice. He said she seemed 'really wired' into our local school community and she might know someone who would want to earn extra money watching a baby a couple days a week He had her email address because he had, only the week before, gone to a school event and taken pictures of all the kids and her camera wasn't working, so he had sent her a copy of the class photo. We had FINALLY gotten the pronunciation of her name down. She was KN. I felt awkward at the idea of this I think in a moment of frustration looking at daycare, so I agreed to let him write to her about it. The two traded emails back and forth and almost immediately, she said she thought she knew someone. And suddenly I found myself emailing with this KN, too! She had a friend that was interested and she passed along her contact info.
Honestly, I was really skeptical and grumpy, but I felt that after all my husband's hard work I had at least better call this person. It was only polite, especially since KN had gone out of her way to do the leg work and ask around. So, I made the obligatory phone call fully expecting to just say, "Thanks but I think we're going a different direction." After trading a couple voice messages back and forth I finally spoke on the phone with this person. KN told me via email she was wonderful and would even trust her own children with this woman, but really I did not know KN all that well so that didn't mean anything at the time. The person KN recommended to me was Ms. B. Ms B. and I chatted for a while and I explained some of the unique thing I was looking for in a sitter. She was fine with all of them. She had excellent questions and seemed very kind, scholarly, and while we spoke, I listened to how she handled her children's interruptions. We set up a meeting but after hanging up I was pretty much sold. I just had this instant good feeling. I called Hubby and said, "I think we just found the perfect person to take care of our baby!" My heart was so happy and I was no longer feeling the dread of returning to work. I love my job but I was ready to give it all up if I could not find the right care for our daughter.
Shortly after our phone conversation I met Ms. B in person along with her youngest child. She held our tiny five week old BB and marveled at how tiny she was. I loved her family's simple Christian lifestyle and lack of TV ownership. We don't have TVs in our house) Ms B was simply wonderful! I think she had more questions than I did during our our visit. By the time of our meeting, though, KN and I had traded a few email messages and I was learning more about Ms. B. As it turns out, when KN moved to our town her first friend was Ms. B. They have kids the same ages and have been close friends since then. Some of their kids have grown up together literally from birth.
Just before Christmas break, KN and I had our first play date. I was so sleep deprived I don't remember too much, but it was 3 1/2 hours long and epic. It was also KN's birthday and I was utterly charmed by her tale of how her kids were late to school because they made her breakfast. The time during our playdate passed so quickly because we just sat there chatting but I think she was secretly stalling so she could soak up all the baby snuggles she could get. I know now she is a grand master of baby whispering. As it turned out, my husband was right about us having a lot in common. Height differences aside (seems we are both on opposite ends of the growth curve), she and I do have tons in common, more than just being moms to three kids (1 eldest boy, and two younger girls). On Lil Sister's birthday I watched her girls for the first time. After then, things just started clicking and we started hanging out all the time. Our kids get along quite wonderfully. In fact, too nicely sometimes. Our kids cry when they leave....
Somewhere in there, she found out she had to get her graduate school application in a lot sooner than expected. She was feeling stressed and overwhelmed. As it turns out when I was applying to grad school, I also had 2 weeks to get my stuff pulled together at the same university. I encouraged her to do it and as I expected, she did and was accepted into the program of her choosing. Having walked a similar path about 5 years prior, I felt a strong kinship with this person. Plus, making the transition to three kids has been a struggle for me and this woman was one of a few that was empathetic and helpful with many suggestions to make my life simplier and easier. She is also always the first to offer to step up and watch all three kids (once you have three kids, fewer and fewer people offer to help you out. Even some who wish they could help simply aren't up to two kids and an infant).
Now Ms. B - what a woman! She is so calm, considerate, and kind. Her calmness, though, amazes me. I feel so crazy busy sometimes running around chasing my kids but she is always together, no matter what craziness is going on around her. Her patience truly amazes me, too. Her kids are amazing which I believe is a testament to her parenting style. She and her family (her kids and Husband D as well) take little BB as one of their own on my work days and I cannot think of a better situation for us and our child care needs. Ms B. has been such a blessing to our lives. BB adores her and reaches for her every morning when I drop her off. Ms. B's kids are always so happy to see BB, too. I get photos and updates throughout the day. BB goes to the park, the pool, the zoo, library, all kinds of fun places. Plus, I have also gained another mom friend. It's truly wonderful.
By the way, it took several months before Ms. B, KN, and myself were all at the same place at the same time. Often the two of them would get together and I would be at work or I'd see KN at carpool time or Ms. B at drop off time. Finally one day at children's Bible story time (which Ms. B's family hosts) we were all present at the same place at the same time. Our families have only gotten together about five times total (two in just the last week, though) but we all see each other all the time. Honestly, I cannot believe we have not encountered each other before now. We know all the same people at the library and often attended the same puppet shows and children's events. Maybe it just had to happen at the right time so everything would transpire exactly as it needed to. Providence...
I cannot thank KN, whom I now call Iron Woman, enough for the positive impact she has been on my life. Had we not met at kindergarten registration and followed her advice on teachers (Mrs. T - and you've heard me go on and on about how awesome she is), had our kids be in the same class, and Hubby befriended her and ask her for assistance, we would not have Ms. B. Not only that, I would not have an epic friend whom I will treasure forever. (Our "Friends" TV show quoting contest, however, I may possibly lose.)
Photos - Ms. B, BB, and Iron Woman, then the view as I drop off BB on my work days, all 9 of our kids at the zoo.