I became an aunt when I was 8 years old. Which means I’ve basically been holding babies and changing diapers since the third grade. There are some things in life that make you feel full inside and as though your heart could burst. That make you know you were created for more than living Friday to Friday. I love kids. I thrive around children, making up games and pretending. Childhood is sacred and magical and I want to spend my life fighting to keep it that way.
Right now I’m in grad school working towards that goal. The diploma may still be years away but I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be around little people all the time. People tell me all the time that I babysit a lot and it’s true, I do. What I’ve come to realize over the last several years of babysitting is that babysitting is a ministry.
The years post college graduation are weird. It takes a while to figure out this new season where, unlike the illusion of college, you are actually an adult with adult responsibilities. During my last year of college I had friends who had already graduated and many of them told me that life after college isn’t as fun as they imagined. It was pretty discouraging. And it’s true that the first few months I felt similar to a fish that had just found itself on dry land flopping around.
But there are so many good parts. Reading for fun, developing work ethic, being able to travel more, having time to actually cook and exercise and not having that feeling of guilt when you know you should be studying. My favorite part though has been deciding what I give my time too. As a young single adult, my time is my own. I get to decide when I watch tv, hangout with friends and when to serve and volunteer. This was also true in college but now that there are no classes there is infinitely more freedom. Someday I want to have a family and my time will no longer be mine. But today the only person I aim to please with using my time well is God.
Someday when I have a family I want to look back on this season of life and know I used it well. For me that means pouring into families that invite me into their homes to watch the most precious part of their lives. It’s a big deal that parents leave me to take care of their children and I take it seriously. I want to use that time to encourage these kids, to love them and to be silly. To speak life and identity to them. To be patient with them and be a source of comfort to the tiny ones and a role model to the older ones. Having dance parties and coloring with these littles brings so much joy.
One of the most ironic things is that kids don’t understand the season of life I’m in. They don’t understand how you can be a “grown-up” and not be married. So most of them think I’m a big kid, which is fine with me. The parents don’t realize how much I learn from watching the way they parent, the way they prioritize date nights and the way they love their kids. I will be a better wife and mother someday because of babysitting. And when they choose to be generous and bless me financially they don’t know how much it means to this young grad student.
We all have a ministry. Many of us have several. One of mine in this season means that I sometimes go home sticky from peanut butter or with knots in my hair because a little girl wanted to play with it. These moments are sacred and I’m grateful for the heart God gave me. A heart that fills to the brim by reading stories and having littles ask for goodnight hugs. A heart that rejoices in the fact that a child is thrilled you are there to play. I know that the job of babysitter has been around for a million years. I just never knew it could teach me so much. I’m grateful for this season and all that it brings.