10 and a half years.

10 and a half years ago I won the lottery. I was a new mom embarking on the long icy road of working motherhood. I was exhausted from the work of keeping a new baby alive and exhausted at the thought of returning to work outside the sleepless yet warm and blissful cocoon of our little home. I had no idea at the time how long that exhaustion would persist, and no idea just how lucky I would be to know and love the woman who was about to change our lives for the better, forever.

Ewa arrived early for her interview. The baby was screaming her gorgeous little head off. I hadn’t showered in days. The dog was at a constant 3 inches from my heels, stalking in perpetual vigilance of my deteriorating well-being. Looking back it’s possible the dog was the only one fully aware of the dire situation we all faced.

I was a mess. And Ewa, she was not. She reached out for the screaming baby and I surrendered her before I even introduced myself.

Ewa told me to sit. She walked and bounced and talked to me about her experience caring for others. She’d been with two other families for almost a decade a piece since immigrating to America. Those families oozed loved for her when I later called them. And we would soon come to share that love of the perfectly crazy, magically patient, wonderfully charming and caring woman who has cared for all of us for the last decade.

I held that once tiny screaming baby, now large enough to share my clothes, last night as she sobbed. Ewa is leaving us. And we are all heart-broken. Through the births of two more screaming babies, and the deaths of a number of well-loved fish and assorted insect pets, my sweet vigilant dog and my own perfectly magical and wonderful mother, Ewa has been a mother to us all. Holding all of us through our screaming and tears, telling us everything is perfectly as it should be, and that we are doing great jobs whatever the job in doubt may have been.

As the 6 year old said this week, “it’s time for her to enjoy her life without our wild craziness and to rest and eat all the lollipops.”

It is time for her to go. It is time for us to learn how to live without her. There will be less magic in our home, less multi-colored sugar sprinkles on broccoli, less sage advice delivered with her sweetly imperfect English, less being told I look “famous” as I leave the house and head to work, less Cheetos delivered one at a time as rewards for good behavior. Less so much else, but not love. Her love and our love of her is stuck to our hearts like Cheeto dust to our fingers.

We will love her and miss her terribly. I won the lottery when she walked through our door and our lives have been better every day because of her.

Enjoy your retirement and all the lollipops, Ewa. You did a great job. We are so so so lucky to know you.