It has been a long time since we’ve had a baby in our home, and I have almost forgotten what it was like. Our youngest is ten and growing fast. Every once in a while she will still climb up on my lap for me to read a story to her, but most of the time she reads them herself, and sometimes she even reads them to me.

I have missed having a little one that I can cuddle in my arms and feed a bottle. I miss having them fall asleep and tucking them into bed.

So, when a young, single mother that we know posted on Facebook that she really needed some help watching her baby, my wife called me to talk about it.

“She’s going to school, and she’s sick right now,” my wife told me. “She could really use someone to take care of her baby for a couple of days while she gets better.”

“Sure,” I said. “I’d love to have a baby in our home again.”

The young mother lives a distance away, so we went to meet her halfway. We arrived at the appointed place, and she came shortly thereafter. She thanked us profusely, saying she was looking forward to getting some much needed rest.

We switched the baby’s car seat to our car and buckled the baby in. We were strangers to her, and she looked at us with wonderment, but she didn’t fuss.

As we traveled she made sweet little baby sounds as my wife played with her. Once we arrived at our home, everyone wanted to hold her. A person pretty much had to take a number for a turn.

Meanwhile, I hunted through our storage to find an old baby bed and other baby things we had put away in case we had a chance to take care of our grandchildren. My wife washed and disinfected all of them so we would be ready for bed time.

I didn’t get much chance to hold the baby until evening when our own children went to bed, then I changed her, dressed her in her pajamas, and sat down to feed her a bottle. She curled up in my arms, and as she ate, I sang lullabies to her. By the time the last of the formula was draining from the bottle, she was dropping off to dreamland, snuggled up against me.

I spent a little more time just rocking her as she slept, not wanting to hurry the moment too quickly, but eventually my wife and I needed to go to bed, too.

I took the sweet little baby and tucked her into the small bed at the foot of ours, wrapping her blanket around her to keep her warm. She opened one sleepy eye as I did, then drifted back to sleep.

My wife had been fighting a nasty cold the last few nights and had gotten very little sleep, so I volunteered to be the one to get up with the baby in the middle of the night if she cried.

We drifted off to sleep, and it wasn’t too long before an unfamiliar sound filled the night. In a daze I reached up and hit the snooze button on the alarm. A few seconds passed in silence, and then the sound came again. Once more I reached up and not so gently hit the snooze button on the alarm. The sound stopped for a couple of seconds, and then sounded again. Once more I hit the snooze button, but this time the sound continued. I started hitting the time set switch, the alarm set, the light button, and basically every button on the clock.

That is when my wife firmly patted me. “It’s not the alarm,” she said. “It’s the baby.”

“Baby?” I questioned. My mind started to clear and I finally put it all together. “Oh, the baby.”

I guess it has been a long time since we have had a baby in our house.

 (Daris Howard, award-winning, syndicated columnist, playwright, and author, can be contacted at da***@da*********.com; or visit his websit)