I cried over spilled milk once. I was at Wilma’s house. Wilma was a babysitter, daycare provider, lunch feeder, parent helper and soap opera watcher.

Really. I watched my first episodes of Young and the Restless in her home. We couldn’t have lunch until that show was over. It was the 80s. Enough said. 

But back to that spilled milk. I spilled it. Or my sister spilled it. Or maybe my friend, Colt spilled it. That part I can’t recall. I do know the sight of spilled milk made me scared. Mostly because I knew Wilma wouldn’t be very happy with me and the rest of the crew ages 7 and under. 

I didn’t tell her that the milk in my cup was now on the kitchen table. Instead, I told everyone to be quiet, went over to the counter and carefully shimmied a grease filled paper towel out from under the French Fries. I then used that paper towel to soak up the milk.

I was pretty darn proud of my accomplishment. 

If Wilma knew – she didn’t say anything. Maybe she was in a good part of her favorite Soap and didn’t care about the mess. Or maybe, and most likely, she knew it was an accident and wasn’t as upset as I thought she might be. 

Mom and Dad liked Wilma. I did too, of course. She took care of us during those hours when they had to work – and she wasn’t afraid to make us follow the rules. Most importantly, she kept us safe, which had to be a relief for my working parents.

Six years ago, Kyle and I were on that same journey to find someone who would keep our first born safe. During our search, a good friend of ours had tragedy occur at the hands of her daycare provider. It made me skeptical. I didn’t think it was possible to find anyone who would care for our baby as much as we would. We toured several facilities and finally picked one person to watch our tiny girl.

Then she backed out. I was upset at the time. Today, I’m so thankful.

That no led us to Shelly and Memaw; a mother/daughter team with a clean home, a big back yard and lots of love to share. A few days before I was set to go back to work, I dropped Ella off in their care. 

I was a nervous wreck and came back before the two hours was up. What I found when I walked back through that door was a sleeping 11 week old baby girl – still intact and well cared for. I never doubted again.

Shelly and Memaw saved my sanity on countless occasions. They helped raise Ella, too. Potty training, manners, nap time, discipline and an introduction to all food groups happened under their roof. Each morning I left Ella with full confidence knowing she would be loved that day. 

That’s a blessing I may never be able to explain.

This week marks an end of an era. Ella will start Kindergarten and will no longer need daycare. I don’t think she understands the impact made during her first years of life – I’m not sure it has hit me, either. Life is funny like that. Often times we don’t recognize the gift until it’s gone. Maybe you’re there too? 

To Shelly and Memaw – I say thanks. Thanks for being a babysitter, daycare provider, lunch feeder, parent helper, discipline maker, potty trainer, food group eater, clothes washer, owie cleaner, manner initiator and nap time implementer. You’ve been an incredible influence to my little girl these past six years. I think she will always remember her time spent in your care. I will, too. You showed love and compassion and not once did I walk in with a Soap Opera on your TV.

I am a better Mom because of you both.

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Leslie Means

Leslie is the founder and owner of Her View From Home.com. She is also a former news anchor, published children’s book author, weekly columnist, and has several published short stories as well. She is married to a very patient man. Together they have three fantastic kids.  When she’s not sharing too much personal information online and in the newspaper – you’ll find Leslie somewhere in Nebraska hanging out with family and friends. There’s also a 75% chance at any given time, you’ll spot her in the aisles at Target.