This is my time in life to relish the relief in the faces of parents who know their children are with a baby-sitter who loves them.

This is the season of my life to be a mother. In this world of never-ending bills and too-small paychecks, I am somewhat of an antique—a mother who works in the home instead of battling the full-time work force. Yet, every morning at 5:45, I am reminded by a persistent alarm clock that another day on the job is about to begin.

In the sleepy morning hours between six and eight o’clock, five chubby-cheeked children arrive on my doorstep in the arms of their mothers or fathers, responding to my cheery “Good morning” with grins. I hug each one before they head to the overflowing toy box in the next room. Diaper bags find their way to a designated corner, and my day has begun—much to the delight of my own two children, who revel in the companionship of these part-time brothers and sisters.

Baby-sitting was not my chosen profession. I started out reluctantly, longing to lavish all my love on my own little ones. But in each situation, the Lord opened my eyes and heart and home to the needs of these children and their parents—loving, concerned parents who wanted a safe haven for their children during times they could not supervise them. Being a mother myself, I recognized the relief that showed in their faces when they knew their child was being loved and cared for. I realized that baby-sitting could be a way of serving the Lord.

But how do I cope with seven children, all under the age of six? I don’t know. There is someone with more patience than I will ever possess who helps me through each busy day. I have learned to live a moment at a time instead of worrying about next week’s doctor’s appointment. I change diapers assembly-line style, hoping the first one stays dry at least until the last one gets a clean diaper. I have learned to ignore toy-strewn floors during playtime and leave the straightening for nap time.

It isn’t easy. The house may be topsy-turvy at times, and laundry baskets with yesterday’s unfolded clothes may sit unattended for awhile, but there is usually time for one more hug before lunch or one more kiss planted on someone’s paper cut.

Some days my house seems so small that I find myself longing for a finished basement or a bigger yard. But those are the times we clear away a little clutter and squeeze in one more child while a neighbor goes visiting teaching. And I find I have made it through another hour without collapsing.

I am not perfect. I get grumpy. I say, “Don’t make a mess!” and “Be nice!” more often than anything else in my vocabulary. And I am usually a little relieved when quitting time rolls around at five o’clock and the children’s exodus home begins.

But I also laugh. I sing. I play games. I fix a pretty mean peanut butter celery stick. And most of all, I love these children and they know it.

So on the frequent days, like today, when I wish I were young again and able to follow every selfish whim of my heart, or old enough to send children off to school and have a quiet, empty house, I try to remember that this is the season of my life to be somebody’s mother—full-time for my own children and part-time for others’ children. May I be blessed to be a good one.

Parents facing day-care decisions are encouraged to read “When Mom Can’t Be Home,” by the Relief Society general presidency, on pages 16–21 of the February 1990 Ensign.

[photo] Photo by Welden Andersen

Lisa Passey Boynton is Relief Society president in the Val Verda Sixth Ward, Bountiful Utah Val Verda Stake.