"Can you write me a letter of reference?" She asked. “Of course," I replied. But how do I adequately describe the person who has changed not just my life, but the life of my first child, born seven weeks premature with a chest tube, a feeding tube and, before I could carry him home in my arms, a heart monitor?

The Husband and I knew Charlie had Down syndrome, and so we wanted to find caregivers who had experience with children with Down syndrome. None of our local daycares could boast one.

Then fate — yes, I believe God — intervened and we welcomed our 4 pound, 14 ounce bundle of shocking blond hair and eyelash-less blue eyes. Time was running out.

By the time I was ready to return to work (or rather, expected to), I couldn't consider turning over Charlie to strangers every day. We decided to seek an in-home caregiver.

Trusting Care.com

Our Mary Poppins, named Lynette in real life, had a profile on Care.com. It was everything I wanted Charlie's caregiver to be. I may or may not have stalked her.

She arrived at our home, visibly nervous. We learned she shares Charlie's birthday. "It's meant to be," The Husband proclaimed.

I also was nervous. Who was good enough for my baby? "We'll try it," I said.

Charlie Lynette and Kacey
Charlie with Lynette and Kacey, Lynette's daughter

Teaching us all

The first song my son learned, understood and responded to, he learned from Lynette.

While I dutifully held his bottle at every feeding, she taught him to hold the bottle for himself. Lovingly. Patiently. Firmly.

I fed Charlie in what we called his "hoppy chair." Reclined, buckled in. A baby seat for my baby.

Lynette introduced him to a high chair. Buckled in, sitting up, a towel folded and tucked beside his ear to compensate for his torticollis. I was shocked. I didn't realize he was big enough to do that.

He knows how to take off his shirt. He knows how to wash his face. He knows how to sign "airplane," "boat," "monkey" and "bunny." (Really, what else is important?)

Lynette at 2012 Buddy Walk
Lynette at the 2012 Buddy Walk

My best try

How do I write a recommendation for a woman who became a mother to my children and a mentor to my mothering skills? She is family.

Both children long ago learned to sign an "L" for her name. Neither signs nor says "Mama." (Don't get me started on their Morse-code-like signing of "Dada," All. Day. Long.)

I understand. They know Mama will always be here.

Lynette leaves. She returns to her family. Family who have also become our family.

Yes. I recommend her.

I love her.

Read more about Chasing Charlie

One mother's plea to stop use of the 'R' word
Imagining a future for my son with Down syndrome
Having a sibling with Down syndrome