I feel like I can be here in this moment and begin to put together all the hints and signs and symbols of the last few weeks and see how they relate, see what themes or lessons emerge.
I am absolutely crushed for the family and for MaryEllen, and in a much smaller, less dramatic way, so uncertain now about where Petra will go when I need to return to work. All the puzzle pieces of my life and the balancing act of grad school, freelance work and taking care of the kids seems to be based around, built on top of, dependent on, that feeling I had about MaryEllen's place--the joy, the near pinching myself relief each time I walked in the door and felt Petra welcomed into such a warm, safe, loving atmosphere.
I can't even begin to capture all that MaryEllen did for these children but just to give a small picture: Wally adores her, calls her "Mary Yellow" (thinks thats her name, and it so fits), loves to pick up or drop off Petra if the timing works. Whenever he comes in she gives him a giant hug and immediately brings him over to hold a frog or look at the fish or talk to the birds. She is everywhere at once, blowing bubbles, handing out play-doh, unpacking food from Fresh Direct, drawing smiley-faces on banana peels, always always always it seems when I come in in the mornings I find her reading the kids stories and sings them songs. I come in at all different times, and pick up at different times, and each time the world I walk into is pure magic.
I can never figure out how she is so hyper-organized, flexible, responsive and interactive with the parents and yet so completely immersed and devoted in childcare, bouncing babies, teaching one child how to comfort another, leading them in a circle song. She is a whirlwind, a force of nature, the most giving, loving caretaker. If I ever walk out with another parent we spend the blocks to the subway singing her praises. The children are always so happy. In the past I had thought parents rationalized daycare as "better" than being home with the parent but after meeting MaryEllen I couldn't help but agree that Petra's days were fuller and more meaningful in her care.