It was a bathroom mirror moment–one of those instants where you stand between two mirrors and see yourself patterned to infinity.

Mindy, our neighborhood babysitter, sorted pennies by date, with my daughters, then three and five years old.   I walked in from the dentist office, minus two wisdom teeth. I’ll admit I wasn’t at the top of my game.

“Here is a 1969,” Mindy said. “The year I was born.”

“But you aren’t old enough to be born in 1969,” I said. “That means I could have babysat you.”

Mindy, too polite to say “Duh!” smiled at me. “I really was born in 1969.”

The mirrors in my mind swung into place, and I glimpsed a pattern.

The children I babysat could be my children’s babysitters. In these reflected images I saw that my daughters could be Mindy’s children babysitters. And Mindy’s children could baby-sit my grandchildren. And my grandchildren could…

I had to sit down. My head hurt. I never realized babysitting had so many complicated inter-connections.

Flash forward to 1996. “It’s weird,” my eighth-grade daughter said at dinner one night. “I found out today that four of my teachers are 27 years old. Weird. Four teachers born in 1969.”

Once more a mirrored moment showed me another connection in the pattern. My daughter’s babysitters were now their junior-high teachers. My daughters would soon be babysitting their children.

I saw links going backwards. I followed connections forward.

The children I babysat in 1969 were now my children’s teachers. The 1969er’s children would soon be in my classroom. The three-year-olds that were in my classroom might baby-sit my yet-to-be born grandchildren. And be their teachers.

Yikes! Did I have some work to do.

At that moment, how I wished I had been a better babysitter. How I wished I’d coached my babysitters more. I hadn’t realized they would be teaching my children for years to come.   Had I taught my daughters enough so they could do their parts as babysitters, students, teachers, parents…etc.? Was I keeping my eye on my goals and purposes?

Our connections go deep and long. Each of us creates a pattern that travels forward and backwards. All of us have an important role to play in the lives of many people, whether we realize it or not. We each form a vital link in the continuing drama of human beings. Our jobs as student and teacher, parent and child, employer and employee, forge generations of relationships. As we move from role to role, we can only do the best we know how, and endeavor to do our parts with love and respect for those people in our lives.

Because our children are our grandchildren’s parents. To infinity, and beyond.


6 Responses to “1969…1969…1969”

  1. Emanuella Correia

    Dear Maren,

    Thank you for another article that boosts our reflection.

    At this moment, when I am looking for a new school to my children, I am becoming aware of how important are the values transmited by the teachers.

    But I had not realized the chain in which I also contribute to the formation of the people who will become my children’s influence in life.

    • Emanuella,

      I think that when we are aware of how deep our connections truly are, it helps us see our decisions in a life-affirming way.

      Our acts of love and kindness are far reaching.

  2. What a delightful but sobering essay.

    I have had a Montessori preschool for 40 years so have seen this progression from beautiful three-year-old to babysitter to mother of another beautiful three-year-old in my classroom.

    I host a “summer program” each year for two weeks with the children who are in their last year in the preschool or returning to their old preschool – children up to 12 years old. After that, they still want to come so they become my “helpers”. One of my intents for the younger children is that they continue using the wonderful Montessori materials for elementary that introduce them to new concepts in a clear, concrete way. I also just want to spend time enjoying them.

    My real intent for the “helpers” is to teach them the skills that are embodied in parenting and encouraging little kids at a time when they typically love to babysit and spend time with young children. I think it’s the optimum time to show them how we work with the littler ones with respect and insight into how they learn and grow. This is one of my opportunities to have an influence on those succeeding generations.

  3. Thank you for so much shared wisdom. Oftentimes, I humbly find myself commiting the same mistakes I condemned in my previous generations. Surely, I am also repeating their asserts, but what a great responsibility to break with diminishing attitudes, thoughts and behaviors, for the sake of those here and to come! So help us God!

    • Teresa,

      Many years ago I learned the term “Momilies”, or those phrases and speeches that our mothers uttered to us and we swore to never repeat.

      But… there they are.

      The challenge is always there!


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