Sunday, June 17, 2007

Why Can't My Mother Just Move In and Take Care of Us?

Everyone I talk to these days wants to know if I’m totally loving being back to work (I am), how I’m getting everything done (I’m not), how the kids are adjusting (not as well as I’d like), and how the nanny’s working out (compared to what alternatives?).

First the nanny – I think I’ve mentioned that we had one nanny who my husband scared away after three weeks. On his behalf, she didn’t clean up after the kids, she was impossible to communicate with (no English), she didn’t drive and so had people waiting for her in our driveway to take her home, and the kids didn’t really dig her (even though I don’t think she was mean to them or anything – she just didn’t connect with them somehow). But still – the way we learned she quit was she just stopped showing up, which was not very fun.

So on to nanny number two. She showed up in her Volvo (she lives in a neighborhood I can’t afford), and at the end of our interview she said, “I’m an independent contractor -- I like to be paid on Friday, and I don't work weekends.”

And I said, “Uh – um – okay.”

I asked my husband, “Do you think she’s a little bossy?”

And, remembering all the people who’d answered our ads for a nanny saying things like, Well, I got laid off from my fast food job six months ago and now I’m just looking for something easy… he said, “I think she has her shit together, and that’s what we need, just hire her.”

But it all reminded me of my former boss, who I once overheard on the phone with her housekeeper. The housekeeper was ripping her a new one, because my boss hadn’t left the house the way she liked it when she arrived to clean. I said to my boss, “Why do you take that kind of abuse from your housekeeper – I don’t understand?”

And she said, “Oh – it’s so hard to find a good housekeeper, you don’t even know – and she’s really good, so I just have to let her abuse me, I have no choice.”

And alas, the bossy nanny shows up exactly when she’s supposed to, is very good to my kids, and when I get home the house is clean. So it’s all good. According to this article, it’s the best I can hope for anyway.

As for the kids, when I asked how they liked the nanny (who is here less than 20 hours a week), J answered, “Well – she’s not Mama or Daddy.”

I fluctuate between feeling guilty and relieved to know that I’m irreplaceable to them.

"'The highest function of love is that it makes the loved one a unique and irreplaceable being." -- Tom Robbins

As for work, in addition to this job, the company I wrote about here, who didn’t hire me last December, contacted me recently and asked me to do some contract writing for them. So now I really am sort of a writer – I don’t just pretend to be one on the internet anymore – and that is pretty exciting.

Finally, my real job has definitely been good for stimulating my creativity. The other day I was chatting with a co-worker, and he said, “Oh – Stace – did I ever tell you about the time my second wife’s first husband was in bed with his fourth wife and…”

I’ve been writing for twenty-five years, and I’m sure I couldn’t possibly come up with a better beginning for a story. I’m sorry I can’t repeat the rest of it in mixed company, but I will say that yes, even with the stress, the guilt and the feeling pulled in a million directions all the time, it is seriously great to be back to work.


Her Bad Mother said...

We have had no end of nanny weirdness. We're totally dependent upon a super-expensive nanny who doesn't clean and who takes off on holidays when we least expect it, because a) good nannies are a bitch to find, and b) WonderBaby adores her. So, you have my sympathies.

Jill said...

We've been lucky to have had four awesome nannies in five years. Of course, that's also the down side. They have all been young women with other plans for their lives, so they don't stay very long. They've all been good though.

I can also truthfully say that it warms my heart when the baby cries when she leaves in the evening or the 5-year old accidentally calls me by her name on the weekend. That tells me that they are getting good care.

It's really hard to take care of someone else's kids. I know I sound a little Pollyanna here, but in my book a good nanny is worth as much as you can afford to pay her.

Mary Tsao said...

I can sympathize with your nanny issues. I pay my nanny to sit around and watch Spanish soap operas because she loves my kids and she's been with us for almost 2 years. At this point, I clean up *before* she comes over to make *her* life easier. Don't ask.

Also, I miss office gossip a lot.

.. Dallas Meow >^^ said...

awesomeness - now, let go of that guilt - there's a time a place for everything!