I remember clearly when I was expecting my twins and looking for day care how challenging it was.  I didn’t know what to ask, and I desperately needed someone.  My work schedule was so crazy that taking them to a daycare that was overly structured with start and end times was going to present big problems.  As I prayed, (and made dozens of phone calls) God opened a door.  I remember sitting at Kim’s table with my big belly, swollen feet, and out of breath thinking, will they be safe with that dog here?  What does she feed them for lunch?  How often do they go outside and play? and on and on.

But there was one question I never considered asking.  The thought never crossed my mind to ask her about the other families that had kids coming.  To see how they got along or partnered.  What was their parenting style?  How did they react if someone was ill, or worse yet if some kid hurt another?  (cuz, let’s be real, it happens!)

My twins are 13 years old now, Emma is 9.  Kim has been a part of our life since they were born.  And all 3 of our littles beg to go to Kim’s yet.  I got lucky.

This past week, God opened my eyes to the depth of his love for my kiddos.  One of the kids at Kim’s daycare passed away very unexpectedly.  No accident, no answers, just lots of grief.  4 year old Ava was my Emma’s favorite, and she was/is heartbroken.  On Monday night, the day care moms got together with Kim, and we prayed.  My kids are older, and aren’t there often, but I got to sit at that table, and watch these moms.  And it changed me.

You see, your day care provider does more than care for your kids.  These kids spend more time with one another that we really think about.  They are their first friends, their first fights, their first injuries in front of another, and on and on.  I call them daycare siblings.  For each of Kim’s kids, they lost one of their own.  And for each of these mom’s the grief was so real.  Not only the realization that this mom that they cross paths with everyday was going through something so horrific, but also the hard part of having to explain to their children that Ava wasn’t coming back to Kim’s.  Never did they think they would be having to talk about death, and why Jesus would take someone that young, and keep them from being afraid.

But what I saw in that reality was beautiful.  This group of moms linked arms.  They supported on another.  Each had their own road to walk personally, and with their kids, but they got each other in a way no one else could.  And Kim, well she was right in the middle.  Encouraging, loving, processing with the kids, and grieving all at the same time.  Many don’t think of in home day care providers as professionals.  Folks, what I witnessed from Kim last week was nothing short of true professionalism.  She’s had kids in her home for 30 years.  She has never had to go through this.  She loves each family dearly.  And she was the rock.  Yes, she cried.  But she did such a terrific job of praying and processing with these kids.

The family of little Ava has a long road ahead of them.  Their grief is just beginning, and my heart, all of our hearts just ache for them.  But God grants perspective in even the worst of circumstances.

If you happen to be looking for a daycare provider, here’s my heart.  Find out about the other families that your kids will be growing up with.  Yes, the provider is important!  BUT…  it’s the other kids and moms and dads that often have the biggest impact on your child.  Ava had an impact on each child at Kim’s.  And these parents, even though socially they are not going to dinner, or out together on weekends, well, they have each other.  They hold one another.  When our kids love, we can’t help but love.

Kim says that God always puts together the perfect group of kids for her.  I think it’s because she is intentional in praying for her kids.  Reflecting on the week past, I’m praising God for the group of parent’s that I was able to witness last week, and for the group that was active when my kids were at Kim’s everyday.

If you have kids, will you do me a favor?  Will you thank your day care provider?  Will you thank the other parents there and talk about how your kids will always have their kids as memories of their first friends?  Will you help them to know that if something horrible happens, that you will be there for them?

And most importantly, will you pray for our little day care.  And for Ava’s Mom and Dad and twin little brothers.  They really need to be lifted up in order to get through the next few months!