During my undergraduate degree I worked part-time at a local pharmacy as a pharmacy technician. I loved this job. I got to interact with so many different people every day, working with the public is certainly anything but boring, especially in healthcare. One particular summer, the job wasn’t able to offer me the full-time hours I had received during the previous years due to new FT permanent hires; being a university student and not a ‘lifer’, I was low on the totem pole. It was no secret to my employer and fellow employees I was actively pursuing a second job that wouldn’t interfere with my current one. During a conversation with one of our regular customers, I came to find out she and her husband were in the process of looking for a nanny. She had just finished her pediatric residency in a big city and was moving home to settle down and start her new job as an emergency room pediatrician. She wanted to know if I knew of anyone looking. Well, in fact, I did.
The words, ‘hire me’ came out of my mouth before I even knew what the job entailed. What did I know about kids?! I was 21, babysat my cousins a few times but I certainly didn’t consider myself confident enough to mind a 23 and 4 month old on a full-time basis for the five months leading up to my classes starting back up. I had NO idea what I had just signed up for.
She did hire me. She liked me at the pharmacy, knew my boss on a personal basis, and had way more confidence in my abilities than I did.
I was scared. to. death.
When she and her husband were at work, I was 100% responsible for these two amazing little kids. What if something happened? Their MOM would be the ER doctor! What if the kids didn’t like me?! What if I managed to totally screw up their lives somehow?! What if…
Learning as I Went
I quickly learned I had to let go of the ”what if’s” and just go with it. I was thrown into the fire so-to-speak and am so glad. Even in the dreaded long hours of dealing with a colicky 4 month old baby girl who was unknowingly fighting a severe lactose allergy from moms breast milk, I quickly grew to love those two kids.
Between the nannying and pharmacy job, I was working over 80 hour weeks. It was exhausting but I loved every minute of it.
I grew up thinking parents and caregivers alike had some sort of manual they were able to refer to, but it became clear to me very quickly that although it appeared they were experts, they were totally winging it.
Raising Children Makes You Mature
Providing childcare is a very humbling job. Children force the youth and silliness out of you. You try maturely playing with a 23 month old; he’ll have you on the floor playing ‘ride the horse’ faster than you know, and know what? You’ll enjoy it. Being able to make a child smile, especially from the simplest of things, is one of life’s greatest rewards. What are simple silly tasks for an adult, bring happiness and memories for a child.
The summer all too quickly came to an end. I remember putting the little boy to bed on what I knew would be my last night there, he snuggled in bed with me as I read him stories and I quietly cried as he said ‘Goodnight and I love you, Catherine’. I loved him too and would miss our fun-filled days together playing with his baby sister. His mom and I cried some more before I left that night, these two kids taught me so much more than diaper changes and stain removal techniques. They brought the ‘mom’ out of me.
I can honestly say that summer prepped me in so many ways for becoming a mother. Being a first time mom, people would often ask during my pregnancy if I was scared or nervous for all that motherhood was sure to entail. I was confidently able to say ‘no’. I knew I could do it, I was taught by the best 23 and 4 month old teachers this world had to offer.
Have you ever had a job that helped you prepare to become a parent?