The thought of going back to work after having a baby was gut wrenching enough, but having to leave her with a stranger was a thought that literally kept me up at night. I thought my anxiety would be contained when a friend who was a stay-at-home mom agreed to be my baby-sitter. I trusted her, and she proved to be a conscientious caregiver.
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I give this woman lots of credit, as, thanks to her, my worries stayed to a minimum as, scared and physically and emotionally exhausted, I returned to work.
Unfortunately, though, driving my daughter to and from her house every day was a bit of a haul, as she lived in the direction opposite my work. Also, her partner worked night shift, so the early-morning drop off I required was not a most convenient fit for her household.
At last, my friend and I sat down and decided on a date to dissolve our baby-sitting endeavor. While I knew this was how it had to be, I was once again beside myself wondering what to do.
That weekend, at a family get-together, my cousin's wife announced that she had just been laid off from her job. I mentioned I would be in need of a new baby-sitter the next month. Immediately, her face lit up and she started asking me questions about my work schedule, etc. She said she would talk to her husband and get back to me.
A few days later we talked and to my delight, she said she would give it a try. Her own children, ages 2 and 9, seemed as happy with the arrangement as I was.
That was nearly two years ago, and the "arrangement," continues to work well for all parties involved. My daughter, now 2, and her older cousins, now 4 and 11, are much like sisters. And my cousin-in-law is just wonderful with my daughter. My daughter adores her, and the feeling seems to be mutual. She is extremely flexible, allowing this single parent little worry if I have to make a last-minute schedule change, or have to run an errand before or after work.
At the risk of making her sound like an all-night grocery store, she is close by and convenient. She has even been willing to pick up my daughter or drop her off for me if need be, or meet me at a different location for pick up.
The night my father passed away, she and her family kept my daughter safe and sound so I could be with him as he took his final breaths. Hours later on that cold, dark December night, I sat at home, numb and drained, and they delivered my little girl right into my arms. That's a moment as both a parent, and a daughter who had just lost her daddy, I will never forget.
I can never thank the people who care for my daughter enough. I realize I am blessed to have these two women in my life who have done more than they will know to help me as I deal with the always-challenging balance being having a full-time job and being a full-time mother.
First-time mother Amy Dulebohn is a page designer and feature writer at The Herald-Mail. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.