Shortly after the birth of my first daughter, I was enjoying idyllic walks in the neighborhood. Time just slowed down as I learned to appreciate every new development she made. On one such walk, I remember passing by a little kid who said to the woman helping him carry his bicycle up the stairs, “Yasmin? I mean, Mommy?” He’d mistaken his mother for the nanny. I smiled as his mother made a remark about how he was always doing this. But I sort of cringed, too. How could a mother outsource her childcare to the point that the children get confused about which maternal figure is which? I resolved I would never be such a mother. No babysitter would ever compete with me for my kid’s adoration.
Cut to last week. I now have two little girls and a vibrant freelance career that requires outside help. We have a nanny helping us about 5 hours each day and she is utterly amazing. Late afternoon one day, I took my girls to the playground. I usually let them play on their own while I sit on a park bench nearby. But I noticed that my oldest was being a bit talkative to adults who didn’t seem interested in speaking with her. So I approached her with a mind toward gentle redirection.
As I got nearby, I heard what she was telling the parents …
“My nanny takes me everywhere special. We go to museums and the river and playgrounds and parks. She is so much fun and my parents never take me to museums or the zoo…”
I was horrified. What would these other parents (who barely spoke English, I later realized) think of my husband and me? Our daughter was making us sound awful!
And then it occurred to me that I was looking at it all wrong. The thing is that our nanny really is that awesome. She’s incredible. We love her. She does take the kids to museums, the zoo, the river, parks and playgrounds. She’s doing it right now, in fact! And she does it with a smile — every day! She plays blocks with them. She does art projects. Really good art projects, such as the time she helped them make butterflies. She discovered a caterpillar in the backyard and helped the girls track its development.
This is why we hired her and why we will keep her as long as we can. So I don’t care if my daughter shouts it to uninterested adults at the playground — it makes me proud that we have the world’s best nanny for our children.