The tough thing about living in a college town is that you get really good at goodbyes.
When Mary Grace turned one, Allison started babysitting for us two days a week so I could go to work. I had just learned that I was pregnant with Claire. I had just gotten over the postpartum depression that characterized MG's first year.
It was hard, leaving my baby with someone else for the first time so that I could go to work. Up until that point, we had just taken MG to the office with us. But she was getting too big and too mobile and too bored. No one was getting anything done.
Allison grew up next door to my aunt Julie in Grammaland. She watched my cousins for years before coming to college here. I figured that if she could handle two active boys, she could easily handle MG. Her mom and my bonus mom are best friends and used to be business partners. Her mom and dad attended my wedding. So even though I didn't know Allison personally back then, I had enough recommendations that I could leave her with MG and not worry.
And then I met her, and I saw how sweet she was with Mary Grace, how fun and easy-going and natural she was (at a time when I still felt like I was all thumbs as a caregiver!) and all of a sudden it was easy.
She has come to our house twice a week for the last four years. After Claire was born, I took her to the office, but when she turned one Allison started keeping both girls at home. By some miracle we were always able to work out her class schedule and our preschool schedule and my work schedule so that she could be here about ten hours a week.
Those ten hours a week have saved my sanity more than once.
In four years, I have never heard her complain. Not once. I have never heard, "We had a bad day!" in response to my usual, "How were they today?" even though I know first hand how difficult my kids can be! She has never said a single negative word to me about anything or anyone. She has never complained when I've been late or when I've forgotten to stop at the bank on the way home. She has been nothing but a joy to work with for four straight years. She has been part of our family.
She graduated this month, and she is starting her new job shortly so today was Allison's last day with us. Even though she'll be going to grad school here, she's not going to babysit for us regularly anymore. Saying goodbye today was so hard. I may have cried like a pretty baby all the way to work. Allison has played a huge role in our lives, and in our kids' lives, and it's really the end of an era.
Thanks for everything, Allison. We love you!!