10TV's Tracy Townsend
Her name is Jennifer. Well, actually it isn't, but I'm protecting her identity because, even more valuable than an inside source on a big news story, "Jennifer" is my fabulous babysitter and I don't want to share her.
Please. Bear with me. Finding a good childcare giver or babysitter can be akin to searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack.
One of the most difficult things I've had to do as a mother is entrust the care of my child to someone else. Surely you've suffered this kind of angst. I was convinced that no one could care for my precious Ian as well as his parents. Sure, grandparents, aunts and uncles were fine, but a stranger? In the end, I had to get over my issues, get over myself, and let go.
No sooner had we found childcare and a sitter in Chicago than we moved to Columbus. There were a few kinks in our search to secure childcare for Ian during the day. We were able to work those out and secure a spot in a great preschool program. When it came time to find a babysitter, we also had success, but it was short lived: She graduated high school and went away to college.
Our next search was relatively short, thanks to a terrific intern in my office. She and her friend were working part time at their university. "Jennifer" was desperate to do something else - even babysit. We met her, we met her mom, and they met Ian. I will tell you he was smitten from the start because "Jennifer" didn't mind his chattiness, inquisitive nature, or playing video games.
Two years later she is like part of the family. In fact, I've only half-jokingly offered her temporary residence in our guest room. There is something to be said for the peace of mind that comes from knowing your child is safe at home when you are not.
It is clear Ian has developed quite a bond with "Jennifer." When we announce plans that don't include him, he cannot wait until she arrives. "Jennifer" has even been the first to break the news of trouble at school because Ian views her as someone he can count on, and we do too.
My confirmation of how well this partnership is working are the times - and there are many - when we've come through the door expecting a hug or even a smile from our boy whom we've missed, only to be met with a disappointed, "You're back already?"
Sure, it's a kick in the teeth, but also a comforting pat on the back to know that when we can't be there, we have found someone who can.