My mom, a school teacher, would wake me up in the morning and wrap me up, pajamas and all, in my favourite blanket and carry me out to the car all cosy and warm, and lay me on the back seat, and drive me to Mommy Riddell's house. This was a multitude of treats: not having to get dressed all day, being wrapped up in a warm blanket on a cold day (I still love sleeping under warm blankets in a cold room), and being carried (I was too old to be carried by my mom except when I was sick. It felt great to be carried in her arms again.)
Mommy Riddell was the woman who babysat me from the age of one-and-a-half, when my mom went back to teaching after daddy died. She had a son my brothers' age, and treated me like the daughter she never had. I'm sure it hurt my mom when I started calling my sitter "Mommy Riddell", but there was never any doubt in my mind who my real mommy was.
When we got there, my mom would carry me in my blanket into the Riddells' house and lie me on the living room couch. Not away in my bedroom at home, where I'd be expected to lie in bed and sleep, but right in the center of the house where I could see everything. There I would be nursed and waited on all day by my solicitous Mommy Riddell, until Mom came to carry me home again after the school day was done.
When I was grown up, my Mom told me how guilty she felt about waking up a sick child and dragging her out of bed to go to a babysitter.
"Mom," I said, "You can't imagine. Those are such happy memories for me, of being treasured and loved."
How often do we feel guilty over things we need not feel guilty about? How often do we berate ourselves for things our children (or loved ones) don't remember at all, or remember completely differently? How often do we forget that the way we do things matters so much more that the things themselves?