Well, these are not ALL of my children, 5 of them are missing! Are you shocked? Perhaps something you didn’t know about me.
As a young teen I was already quite enterprising. I loved children and we happened to have 3 families on our street who needed a responsible baby sitter. I was it! Not only would I rotate between these 3 families, I also had the confidence to take all the neighbourhood kids to the park and really give their parents a break. Now, just figure out the hourly rate on that kind of an afternoon! Ha ha!
I adored these children. Taking care of them made me feel important and valued. I was a kid with purpose. I tutored a 5 year old boy in math, I took a 2 year old boy on his first bus ride to give him a new experience, I bathed and fed twin boys and twin girls, whatever the challenge was, I had the confidence at 14, 15 and 16 years old to handle it.
During those teen years I decided that one day I would have 4 children of my own. By grade 12 I enrolled at Sheridan College for their Early Childhood Education program. My life was set, I was going to either run my own Daycare Centre or become a Kindergarten teacher.
Then life happened. Other opportunities opened up, my interests changed and that young Florence Nightingale hung up her bonnet.
During our studio open house last month I was thrilled to have one of these couples come and see me. We reminisced about those days and they informed me that their kids were now all in their 30’s. Usually people say they feel old when they get that sort of information. I just kind of stood there in disbelief. They also brought with them a Big Bird painting that I had made for their oldest son. I couldn’t believe that they hung on to it all these years later.
A few weeks passed and I received an email from this lovely couple asking me to come over one Sunday afternoon. Their boys would be there and so would the twin girls who grew up across the street. My Mom and I went together. Just entering their house brought back a rush of memories. Seeing the kids was a thrill for me and their oldest son was proudly holding up the Big Bird painting. Even though these kids could barely remember me, if at all, I felt so connected to them.
Seeing them again made me feel so proud. All of them outgoing, smart and successful. As I chatted with them, my memories were becoming more vivid and I think they enjoyed hearing my adventures in babysitting stories.
When my Mom and I said goodbye and began walking back to her house I shed a few tears. I think the tears were for how lucky I was to have had these kids in my life. I really did love them all like they were my own. Sometimes I wonder how different my life would be today if I had made the decision to continue working with children and having a little army of my own.
The afternoon with these families was a gift, I not only re-connected with them but also with the young woman I once was. It was really nice to be with her again too.
On Thursday when we celebrated International Women’s Day I took some time to reflect on this experience. I realized how strong I already was back then. My Mom raised me to take risks, be responsible and to prove myself. It’s pretty amazing, at 14 years old I had families who trusted me with their kids. The strong women in my life, my Mom, my Aunts and my Omas set the example for me and I inherently grew up knowing how to utilize my strengths.
You never know what life is going to put in front of you. I’m truly happy for the way my life has turned out and I’m fulfilled having glamjulz as my baby.
I hope that every single one of you has an opportunity to connect with the young woman you once were. She was smart and her gut instincts were bang on. She led you to where you are today.
Hooray for powerful women!