Before I had a child of my own, I thought that hiring a nanny to take care of your kids is an ass-backwards thing to do. Why have children if you are just going to pawn them off on somebody else, I scoffed? I felt that parenthood is about being completely selfless and that at least one parent needed to be devoted 100% of the time to the children’s upbringing. Yet lo and behold, when I had a baby I wasn’t magically transformed into Mother Teresa. Sure, I am way more patient and loving and selfless than before, but I still have my own desires and dreams. They did not disappear the day I gave birth.
So many women in our time are tormented by the decision of whether or not to return to work, and either way they may feel tremendous guilt and a sense of loss. And perhaps even sadder are the women who do not have a say in the matter or don’t really have a choice.
Thankfully, my job allowed me to work from home, so when my maternity leave ended the extent of my commute was into the second bedroom. Nevertheless, I had to hire a part-time nanny. I couldn’t have a baby crying on a conference call, and it’s pretty hard to nurse and type (although my blog is a testament to my perfecting of this skill). But during downtime, I didn’t have to make small talk by the water cooler or return cold calls; I was able to nurse, play, and even nap with Aiven. I didn’t feel like I was missing out.
I can hardly even imagine what it must feel like to come home and be told by your nanny that she saw your child crawl, walk, or speak for the first time. I think I would feel cheated, and I would resent the nanny. Several of my friends have expressed some form of resentment or jealousy and I simply have no words to comfort them.
There is still plenty I could feel jealous about our nanny. The way she is able to teach him things that I couldn’t, the fact she only speaks to him in Spanish (what if he never learns English!), and the times that Aiven seems to prefer her company over mine. But the same could be said about my husband.
Thinking of our nanny not as an employee but as part of our family, there is no jealousy to be felt at all. Our nanny became family so naturally we didn’t even realize it, and we have practically begged her to move to Austin with us. She asked for the summer to think about it and pray. I pray she says yes.
Part of me is ashamed to admit that I need a nanny, especially now that I have left my job. But I have no idea how to juggle two children, and we won’t have any family nearby to help. How will I pick up Aiven or chase after him when I am eight months pregnant? Who will stay with him when I am in the hospital giving birth? How will he get his needs met when the new baby demands my attention? The answer to all these questions is our nanny.
On our last morning in New York, we invited our nanny to breakfast before saying goodbye for the summer. In the middle of breakfast she pressed Aiven against her and cried. It was heartbreaking to watch, and in that moment it was impossible to feel jealous of her.
My nanny loves Aiven, and for that I can only feel grateful. Aiven has been clinging to me ever since we arrived in Ireland. I am sure it is for many reasons, but I know with 100% certainty that one of them is he misses his nanny. And, truth be told, I miss her too.
Cara and her husband quit their jobs, left New York, and are spending down their savings this summer while traveling though Europe. At the end of their adventure they will move to Austin, TX.