Bebé Plus Me: The Nanny Diarios
Apologies for dropping off for so long! I’ve been trying to get my groove, balancing Baby L, marriage, the Golden Retriever, and returning to work.
This has been my toughest decision with a hefty side serving of peer pressure.
I decided to go back to work, which meant finding a nanny.
Immediately, I started to feel the judgment, making me feel like I was in the 1950s and not 2011. Even Mami (who worked her whole life!) said, “una mamá pertenece en casa con sus hijos.” Well yes, Mami, a mother belongs at home with her kids, but it’s not the only option. I’m choosing another way.
But how do I find someone with whom I will entrust Baby L, the most important thing in my life?
As a former Catholic school girl, I learned to not steal or covet something in someone else’s possession. But surely it wouldn’t hurt to hang around our building’s lobby or the mail alcove and chat up the nannies, right? Maybe a family is moving or a parent is quitting a job to stay home and Presto! My nanny problema will be solved.
I posted on Golden Gate Mothers Group, this awesome San Francisco based mom’s group that’s an oasis in the desert of new motherhood.
Our first choice was an “all-business” Brazilian woman who had worked with a family in our building for 8 years, but who couldn’t stay with them because they were moving. Enter: scheduling issue. I would need her in 5 months and she needed a job now.
Then we interviewed a sweet and warm Latina, big bonus because along with Mami and Papi, Baby L would be immersed in Spanish. But when she saw Biscuit, our 95 pound Golden Retriever (he also gained “pregnancy” weight and is now on a diet), she ran to the steep San Francisco Hills.
I looked at the calendar. Gulp. I’m 4 weeks away from going back to the office, and nada. Will el Jefe lose it when I show up with a baby in a Björn? I looked over at Baby L and couldn’t swallow the big lump that had formed in my throat. I’m a terrible mother, I thought, and dug my teary face into hers.
You have mail. I opened the email immediately: “Hi, I’m an Irish woman…
“…with 16 years of child care experience.”
“I especially love babies.”
She came over. She took Baby L into her arms, gently raised her over her head, and cooed to her. Baby L broke out in smile. So did I, except that I felt a pang. Would my little girl see this woman more as her mother than me?
We checked her references. Everyone raved.
The criminal background check: squeaky clean (Mami conducted her own background check which may or may not involve chanting to la Virgen and praying for signs. What? A Dove? A Raven?)
El Husband who is a serious, tough guy liked her.
She came over the week before I went back to work so we could all get used to each other. Baby L, always my blessed happy baby, smiled, raised her hands, tested her lungs with little screams. Biscuit took up his new spot–anywhere near the Irish Nanny. I had to run an errand and leave my baby, for the first time, with someone who was not El Husband, Mami, or Papi.
I can’t do this. What if this woman is acting and grows impatient at the first sign of fussiness?
What if something happens? Baby L can’t tell me what’s going on.
Mami flips out: “I’m going to come over every day for a month to observe La Nanny.”
“OK, let me get this straight,” I say as I grit my teeth, “You’re going to observe the nanny observe my baby?”
“Jes,” Mami responds with her arms crossed and one foot in front of the other–her over-my-dead-body-language. “I’ll bring a book. I won’t get in the way and I can make dinner so you won’t have to.”
I escape Mami’s wheeling and dealing to Walgreens to buy something I don’t need like TicTacs. I call my big sister.
“Hey girl! I was thinking about you,” Vivi sings into the phone.
“Helloooo?? Dropped call?” she asks.
“No,” I squeak collapsing into a tsunami of water works. “What if Baby L is traumatized for life? Mami is turning into the ultimate Nanny Cam and is going to move in to stalk the nanny. I’m the worst mother ever!”
“Yeah you are. NOT. Look, you’ve gone down the list. Everything checked out, right?” she asks.
“Yes,” I answer.
“And if there’s any comfort in this, millions of women work and their kids turn out OK. You’re not the first melting down, and you won’t be the last,” Vivi rationalizes.
I guess so.
I returned home.
“She’s a doll, this little lassie,” the Nanny declared in Irish brogue, as she places Baby L in the crook of my arm. My little girls eyes lit up when she saw me. Biscuit came bounding up, his tail wagging, his snout gently poking the baby’s foot.
Maybe I’m not The World’s Worst Mother. Maybe everything, maybe I’ll, be OK.