If however, it’s my blinding beauty that fills you with venom, don’t let me stop you.
Two weeks after my son was born, in a swarm of anxiety and sadness, I waited in desperation for the arrival of my nanny. She was coming from two hours away, to stay with me for a week at a time, every other week, until the end of time. Or so I hoped on that day. She was a career nanny, although my own age, and when she swept in, full of all the confidence and joy for a sweet, new baby that I was empty of, I wanted to weep with relief. She was calm, and so I became calm. ( well……) She’d seen it all and nothing freaked her out, so everything stopped freaking me out. I dreaded her leaving days and literally counted down the days to her return. We became great friends, and on those weeks when she was in my home, I could almost get the whole “sister wives” thing( minus the communal husband- I would scratch out eyeballs). It was really wonderful to have another woman, a peer, sharing my home, whose whole purpose, like my own, was the care and well-bieng of my child. We talked about him, worried over him, his habits, his schedule. What was working, what wasn’t. We plotted her love life, talked of my married life, cooked and shopped, all while handing the baby back and forth. Sharing it all.
When my son was about five months old, I knew that I didn’t need constant care anymore and I transitioned to a daytime, as needed for errands, blog-writing, date nights and the occasional nap, nanny and she’s been such an amazing addition to our family. My full-timer returned permanently to her life two hours away, where she is expecting her own first child now, and I’m so excited for her. I don’t see her much anymore, if at all, but I know I will always remember those weeks we spent, my son being loved and snuggled between us, as among the best of my life.
Mothers who employ nannies get a bad rap. Whether they are heiresses with a nanny for each child, or a working mother who wants help with the evening chores after she gets home, they are often met with an open scorn. We’ve created this myth of the “good mother” and it requires that she handle all the child-rearing with minimal help from anyone outside of her immediate family or her husband. In addition, the good mother code stipulates that she should never, never even want anyone else to intercede in the countless, thankless, repetitive daily, weekly, yearly duties of mothering. God forbid she allows someone else to “raise her child”.
But if we look around the world, outside of the western world that is, we’d find that our standard of good motherhood isn’t mirrored in most other cultures. Nowhere else on earth is a mother expected to do everything for her child, just her, by herself. Elsewhere, where extended families co-habitate for example, everyone in a household has a hand in the child rearing. There is always another pair of hands, another lap, another playmate.
Here, in the U.S., it’s mostly unheard of to live with your parents or your siblings past young adulthood, and certainly once we’ve married and started our own families. And while I don’t even take issue with that necessarily, what’s a mother who wants or maybe needs a helping hand to do? What’s a woman who has a not-so-helpful husband to do?
Hire someone. Or send the child to daycare. And that’s a whole other can of worms……
My particular arrangement tends to be among the most reviled. A stay at home mother? With only one kid? Has a nanny?! Why did she even have a child if she doesn’t want to take care of it? She must be so lazy. How can she let someone else…..you guessed it, raise her child? Yep, I’ve heard it all or, if I didn’t actually hear it, saw it. In the eyes, or the expression. I’ve said it myself about other moms before I was the SAHM with the nanny. And, although I don’t feel like I need to explain myself, the following is a brief rundown of why I have one:
- My husband’s work load is intense. He works constantly. I am alone most of the time, and only one child or not, I don’t want to do it all by myself.
- I can’t do the “sitter” thing. Just can’t do it. I honestly don’t know how anyone dares to leave their child with a teenager! Seriously. And I was a teenage babysitter and I was very responsible, but no, it’s impossible for me. I have to know the person who is watching my son very well and have monitored their interaction with him very closely.
- I’m a blithering, nervous wreck. I’ll take all the help I can get.
And, because I can.
And not everyone can, I know that. It’s the reason that I’ve struggled with the decision to write this or not. I know that there are mothers who work full-time, and also have husbands who are gone all the time, and who are exhausted, and full of anxiety and over-worked and under-helped who would gnaw off their foot for some help, but who can’t get it. I know I have it easy in comparison. I heard from a mother just the other day who works as much as six days a week and her husband is away at work all the time too. I’m in awe of her. I mean that sincerely. I know that I couldn’t do it. I really couldn’t. And it’s something to be so proud of if you can or do. I’ve said it before, and we all know it’s true, this is the hardest damn job, and if you’re doing it under difficult circumstances you deserve a great deal of respect. And you have it from me.
If it makes you feel better, this is the lady who had to take a Xanax last night because her son has been having trouble falling asleep. Seriously. I’m a nut case. So don’t forget that.
But then, if I’ve had to kind of defend myself, and apologize for maybe being insensitive, why bring it up in the first place? Why not let it be?
Because I’m a sucker for a guilty conscience. Every word I’ve written since I’ve begun this blog has been truthful. I’ve been open, painfully open and honest about who I am and how I feel or how I’ve handled some very private issues. The tone and general theme of this whole venture has been about acceptance of each other and of ourselves. Having a nanny is part of my mothering experience, part of what makes me a good mother and avoiding telling of it because it’s a hot button issue or because it might make some of you lose your sense of connection to me, began to feel like lying. 6:30 and Glass of Wine is about me, warts and being a doctor’s wife and all. I don’t want to try to write myself as the “every mother”, I just want to write about me. The good, the bad, and the nanny.