Every Once in a While you Come Across a Family Who Hires You as a Nanny and Ends Up Loving You as a Daughter.
|This Picture Captures Our Relationships So Perfectly|
This doesn't happen often in life but when it does treasure it, hold onto them.
On the rare occasion life gives you the gift of not just one but two places to call home, two sets of siblings, two sets of parents, two places that no matter how far you travel or how long you have been gone - you can always go back and call it home.
The Steward's are that second family for me. I grew up (and still to this day) with a wonderful family, my mom and dad love me, my siblings are some of my closest friends. But the year of my 14th birthday God smiled down and gave me a second family in the most unlikely circumstances.
|Left to Right: Jon, Me, Hunter, Jordan|
In 2001 they moved to New York from Alaska, 3 boys: Jon, 17 - Jordan, 10, Hunter, 6 months. Christine and Troy (the parents) started attending the church that I grew up in and was currently involved in.
|Christine AKA Mom & Me in Hawaii|
Almost from the first day on the job we became siblings. I was no sooner making them dinner then they started teasing me in true sibling fashion. Sometimes I felt I was babysitting Jon and Jordan - breaking up their brotherly fights than I was Hunter. There were hockey trips to Canada with the family, outings on their boat, quiet nights in the hot tub, dinners around the table, and our favorite: game nights into the wee hours of the morning.
Being Hunter's nanny gave me a lot of "firsts". He was the first baby I rocked to sleep at night, learning the joy of comforting a little baby. The first little brother to capture my heart. He allowed me for the first time to learn the preciousness of loving someone more than myself. I remember learning how comforting holding a baby can be. One Sunday something really emotional happened and I just wanted to cry, I remember going to find Hunter and a rocking chair and just holding him for a while. After a few minutes of baby time what seemed so big earlier no longer overwhelmed me.
Hunter was there to sooth my first real heartbreak. After the end of a 4 year relationship I went over to the Stewards one night. Jokingly I asked Hunter to be my boyfriend; his 7 year old boyish yes made me giggle. But not nearly as much as he did that night when I tucked him into bed. I went in for our normal good-night kiss, this one was not so normal. After a weird pause before he kissed me and a lingering lip that last just a few seconds too long for comfort I asked Hunter "What was that?"
His sweet response "That's how boyfriends kiss their girlfriends" had me laughing and sweetly explaining that he really couldn't be my boyfriend, even though his childish love helped heal a broken heart.
|Hunter at an Arts Festival|
Both being the youngest children, Hunter and I had a special bond. He was my first real little brother. We would read together, play Legos, watch hockey games, and play Guitar Hero together. Being with the Steward's through 2 different deployments (first Troy then Jon) gave me insight to what Military families go through. The joke is I am 1/2 Army Brat 1/2 Civilian now because of the close look inside this family. These times were some of the most heart wrenching and warming years of my life. Learning first hand the hardships each Military family has to go through. The love and laughter, the struggles and obstacles, but mostly the victories that these families have is astounding.
|Hunter as a Toddler|
|So blessed to take this vacation with them|
Troy, Jordan, Jon, Hunter, and Me
What started out as a helping put one little baby to sleep at night, turned into years of family love. Becoming a daughter, sister, and friend to this wonderful family. More than anything I look back over the years and feel so incredibly blessed to be in their lives and them in mine. Watching the changes through the years hasn't always been easy but they have all been for the better in the end. Jon got married to his sweet wife Diana, Jordan grew from a young pre-teen to a strong man, and Hunter, my baby Hunter is growing up into a smart young teenager.
|Hunter and Me in Hawaii|
More is yet to come with these guys. More change will happen as it always does, but knowing that no matter what happens in life I will always have this family to be grateful for. Not just for the memories made, but the memories to come.
Thank you Troy, Christine, Jon, Jordan, and Hunter for letting me into your home and hearts. Our relationships over the years are some of the most treasured, buried deep in my heart.
**Photo credit goes to both Christine Steward and Myself***