Mia, my 9 month old daughter, was playing with her favorite guitar toy one afternoon and she hit herself in the head with it. She began to cry and put her arms out for me. I scooped her up and kissed her puffy cheeks, wiped the tears from her face and told her how sorry I was that had happened to her. I found myself in a very familiar place. I had done that exact type of consoling with the children I have nannied for over the years. I have loved them all. The three little ones I was with for 10 years especially. I loved them as if they were mine. That was the nanny love I gave to them. Unconditional love. Nanny love is special. It is unique. Do you like to think of yourself as their big sister? A “mom substitute” as I like to call it? Or their 9-5 caregiver- no emotions attached? It absolutely depends on the children, the family, you and the circumstance…..
I would love to tell you all about my circumstance, with the three little ones I loved as though they were mine. I started working with Mary* and Jim* when they had a one year old. Mary was 8 months pregnant with baby number two when I started. I immediately felt at home with them. They quickly were my second family. Mary and Jim were like my older brother and sister. It was ideal. Mary worked from home and sometimes Jim did too. It never bothered me. On two occasions Jim traveled for work and Mary asked if I would stay the night with her. I was more than willing to! We cooked dinner together, put the little one down and talked. She was always easy to talk to. Always.
After baby number two came along, it wasn’t long until baby number three joined the clan! I had my hands full! I had three little boys all under the age of 4. I loved it. The boys and I had a lot of fun together! We would go on adventure walks, swim in their pool, cuddle during movies when it was too hot outside or rainy, read their favorite books to them using silly voices and at night when I would tuck them in I would tell them ” When you were a baby…” stories. They consumed my love. 4 months after baby three came Mary was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. My world shattered.
To see my friend, my sister, my co parent being told she had 2 years to live was the hardest thing I have ever dealt with. To watch their world completely unravel, their hopes, their dreams- was almost too much to handle. Mary sat me down one evening before I left. We talked about the situation and she asked me if I was with them for this fight. She told me the boys were going to need me more than ever- that she was going to need
me more than ever. Without hesitation- I hugged her, began to cry and told her ” Let’s kick this cancer’s A$% “. And that’s just what we did.
During her fight, there were high times and low times. Sometimes a scan would come back and her cancer seemed to be under control. She even went into remission for a short time. Other times were dark. Scans would come back and the cancer had spread. Mary was the strongest human I will ever know in my lifetime. When she got a bad scan, after allowing herself to feel the hurt and disappointment, she quickly dried her tears and said ”
Okay- that treatment didn’t work- let’s try this one…” Around the third year after being diagnosed, she began to distance her self from the boys. She knew she didn’t have too much longer and she wanted to protect them from the hurt they were going to inevitably feel. Most days she would stay in her room. The house seemed dark and cold. I remember one afternoon I knocked on her door to check on her. I opened it to find her on the end of
her bed sobbing. I sat down next to her, told her I had nothing to say to make her feel better, but I loved her. She said, ” That makes me feel better.” Without even being aware of it my role in those three little lives had changed. I was now their mother figure.
Baby number three asked me once, he was around 3, if he was inside my stomach when his brother hit his other brother in the head with a ball at a Gymboree class. Jim and I were in the car together when he asked. We both looked at each other and laughed. We didn’t know what else to do. That was the moment I realized my new role.
After four years, Mary lost her fight. As the tears run down my eyes typing this, I feel her hand on my shoulder telling me she’s proud of me. Proud of The Nanny Love I gave her boys!
Before I started my blog, I would dream of her at least once a week. I wasn’t sure why she was visiting me so often. Now that I have started The Nanny Love – her visits have stopped. I feel, actually I know, that she wanted me to do something great. To help others like I helped her.
I hope that’s what I can do for you! If you are already in the nanny business, or have been a nanny for a while, I’m sure there’s nothing I can tell you that you may not already know. Maybe I can be your sounding board, your mentor? Maybe I will post an awesome craft idea on a day you feel the time is going by so slowly and you don’t know what to do with the kiddo(s). If you are considering joining the wonderful world of nannying, I hope I can be your support system. I hope I post advice that you are looking for. Or if you ever need advice, I hope you comment or email me. I am excited to have a regular guest spot here on the Bay Area Sitters blog or you can catch me on The Nanny Love, either way, I hope to hear from you!
I would love for Nannies everywhere to unite and remind each other of how important we all are. We have all chosen to get into such an important business where sadly we are often hidden behind a curtain. Let’s bring awareness to how important our roles are! Let’s share ideas, share advice, mentor one another and most importantly support one another!
Know what type of nanny love you are capable of giving and give just that! One quality you have to have being in this business is to love kids. So The Nanny Love is in there somewhere! Make it a priority to display that love every day!
*Names have been changed to protect identity.