In Clueless, my own personal bible, Cher defends her high school virginity saying,
“Well, you know how picky I am about my shoes – and they only go on my feet.”
When we first had Jane, people would always ask why we couldn’t just throw our newborn in daycare or leave her with a babysitter, but I couldn’t.
I couldn’t bear the thought of even leaving her for a mere fifteen minutes. Then when it came time for me to go back to work, the idea of leaving her in daycare or even with a nanny still was unthinkable (although it did get a little better). She was only a cute, button-nosed three months and just a few pounds that I could still lug around like a warm sack of potatoes. Why in the world would I entrust her to some stranger who had no special bond, love or ties to my precious baby. Certifications and background checks failed to console my worried mind.
When I visited daycares, I cried just looking at the other infants. I’m sure they were happy and fine, but I could only envision my lonely little Jane waiting in quiet, cooperative desperation until I could come back to rescue her. So, we tried the nanny route. I interviewed nanny after nanny after nanny. Over 50 in total.
They came in all shapes and sizes: some boasting their Early Childhood Education credits, some just children themselves, some older than time, some who would do anything to make some money to support their own family, some who were terrible and many who were great – and would be great for any family. Any family, that is, except ours.
I could always find something wrong with them: too young, too old, too frail, too robust, too quiet, too loud. The list of these poor souls’ handicaps was endless. My husband just sighed in exasperation whenever I brought the subject up and repeated, “They all seemed great. Just pick the one you like.”
The problem was that I like none of them. Even the ones that I hired.
Why couldn’t any of them do anything right? Jane wasn’t fed enough, she didn’t nap at the right time (well, she would have if the nanny just got the naptime routine down correctly), she didn’t nap long enough, she was unhappy, she cried too much, she wasn’t stimulated enough (unless the nanny was overstimulating her, then it was too much).
Again, Hubby just pleaded that I find someone I like and find someone new if I didn’t like the current nanny.
Finally, after 2.5 years of deliberation (with Sam born along the way), I decided to quit my job to stay home and watch my two rugrats. Properly.
Well, turns out that I ain’t no Mary Poppins myself.
I forget to change the kids’ diapers on time. Some days they don’t nap. Some days they don’t eat nearly enough nutritious food. Sometimes I pick the phone or the Internet over directly engaging with them. There are days that all of us are plain old crankpots and nothing goes right.
But the saving grace is that I feel like I’m in control. If the kids eat ice cream sandwiches for lunch, it’s because I’m choosing to give them spoonfuls of sugar. Somehow being able to make that choice makes a poor parenting decision more palatable than if a nanny had done the very same thing.
Of course, being the primary caregiver to the children has had many benefits, like the kids being happier, more relaxed and bonding better together, but it’s no longer clear to me that our last nanny wasn’t the Mary Poppins that I was looking for.
Just yesterday, a woman in our neighborhood park asked me, “Are you their nanny?”
I was tempted to say “yes” so I could get away with staring at my iPhone for a few minutes longer.
To read more about my transition from SAWM to SAHM, you can read these posts from my Adventures Of A Working Mom Staying At Home series:
- Adventures Of A Working Mom Staying At Home (Week One)
- Adventures Of A Working Mom Staying At Home (Week Two)
- Adventures of a Working Mom Staying at Home (Weeks Three to Five)