I have neglected to share a really big part of our lives for the past 10 months...
we call her "little bit" and "bubbaloo" and "boo" and "love"...
...and while we do a pretty good job of pretending that she is "ours", she is the daughter of good friends of ours, and our precious charge a couple of times a week. (Good gravy, precious? I'm sounding like my grandmother. Huh...) Her mama K. gave me a heads-up a couple of years ago, saying, you know, I thought I should let you know that I'm expecting you to be around and involved as I'm raising my future kid. Fast forward those couple of years, and I had the incredible honor of being present at this baby's birth, and when K. and N. asked us to consider being a part of her care team, we said yes. It was not a whole-hearted, no-qualms yes, though. We have busy lives and I've gotten really good at not giving our time away quickly. There is a teenager in the house who has protected her independence and time by being a little disdainful of babies (imagine the scrunched nose and "ew" face), and I wanted to be respectful of that. So we talked about it as a family, and with K. and decided that we would say yes, on a trial basis.
You can see where this is going, right? The teenager fell in love with the first giggle, and Ani? Ani is, in her own words, "utterly devoted". She actually is my mother's helper when we have her all day. She changes diapers, gives a bottle, carries, clothes, entertains, observes, engages, consoles, reads, and is a human jungle gym. She talks with some surprise about how she feels like some day she could be a mama.
Eliza walks up to join us in the afternoon after we've been there for a few hours, and gets her fix. There is some Beyonce on the hi-fi, and lots and lots of giggles. The baby is fascinated with Eliza's gibberish and it's often when I see her experimenting with new ways of turning her mouth and tongue around, trying to keep up with Eliza.
Our baby day is a 'work' day for Ani, who takes some things to do in addition to caring for the baby. She thinks she'd like to homeschool her when she gets older; she's offered to take care of the Harry Potter part of that, while Eliza covers creative writing, and they'll both teach her history, so she likes showing her how she writes and reads.
Really, I should just keep throwing photos up here, 'cause come on. The cute factor is so huge, the oxytocin is a-flowing!!
Seeing Ani take on a nurturing role, really tuning in to another person and putting their needs first, taking responsibility for her well-being - these are all huge experiences that I couldn't have devised any other way. I am so grateful that we said yes.
And this week there was a first: Ani carried her the whole way on an hour-long hike, building strength and confidence with every step. Heart swell.