*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.*
I was a single child for the first twelve years of my life. Growing up, I didn’t have a father figure until my mom met the man she would marry, who would eventually adopt me and become my real dad when I was ten. Two years after that my parents, without consulting me (as if they should have), decided to expand the family.
I’ll never forget that my mom decided to break the news to me that she was pregnant when we were on vacation on Cape Cod. That year my family had let me bring my best friend, Steph with us, and I think my mom thought that would help soften the blow of the news. When mom told me she was pregnant, I admit, I cried. I wanted to continue being an only child and not share my parent’s love and affection. It was very hard for me.
My sister Grace was born, and of course, being twelve years older than her, it fell on me a lot of the times to feed her, change her, and babysit her when my parents wanted to go out. I resent this because as her family member, I wasn’t paid for this service, it was just expected of me.
Having my little sister in my life made me believe I never wanted children of my own. She made me think I didn’t want to have to be so responsible for another human being. That didn’t turn out as planned, as my daughter is currently going on seventeen, but you feel differently about your own kids, don’t you?
One day, I was babysitting Grace while my parents were out and I decided to walk her down to the little park in our neighborhood to kill some time. We were only playing for a few minutes, I was pushing her on the swing, when I noticed a little girl wandering around the playground by herself, and she was crying.
I looked all around for an adult that she might belong to, but there was no one else in the park to be found. Concerned, I carried Grace across the park and over to the little girl.
“Hello,” I said to her, leaning down, “Do you know where your mommy or daddy are?”
This question made her cry even harder, and she grabbed on to my leg and squeezed. That was when I realized I recognized this little girl and knew she belonged to a family that lived only two houses down from mine.
“Come on, let’s go home,” I said, after making for sure there were no other adults at the park watching after her.
The little girl took my hand and I walked her back to her house. The moment we reached her area of the sidewalk, her mom came bursting out the front door screaming and crying for her daughter, and swooped the little girl up into her arms and hugged her tight.
“Thank you, thank you so much, where did you find her?” The mom asked me, and I explained I found her alone in the park.
Apparently, the little girl’s babysitter had taken her down to the park to play, and when the little girl hid inside of a tube slide for a few minutes, the babysitter freaked out, thinking the child was missing or stolen, and she ran home to the girl’s parent’s house for help.
I had probably only missed the babysitter by a few minutes, because the child was only missing a very short time, but it doesn’t take long at all to scare the living daylights out of a parent when their child was missing.
The old babysitter was promptly fired and left in tears, and the little girl’s mom, seeing me with Grace, asked me on the spot to be her new babysitter. I accepted, happy to finally get paid for something I would be doing with Grace anyway.
How would you have reacted if you were that little girl’s mom?
Hi, I hope you enjoyed this story! I am a freelance writing single mom trying to create a better life for me and my daughter through words. If you enjoyed this, please consider leaving a small donation: https://ko-fi.com/maryduncan