Our nanny is amazing, but she’ll never be ‘mama’

Here’s how it *really* felt to have a nanny caring for my kids.

Our nanny is amazing, but she’ll never be ‘mama’

I came across her by chance.

She was working at my children’s school and she was PERFECT. Master’s prepared, kind and, best of all, my children already knew and adored her.


So, after doing the daycare thing for a while, we took a leap of faith, and hired our very first nanny.

At first, I was completely awestruck at the idea that this person was going to just show up at my door at 7am.

Wait, you mean I can just go to work without making three stops on the way to childcare drop off, looking like a pack mule lugging back packs, water bottles and lunch boxes in and out of my children’s perspective homes for the day? I can show up at work without looking like I already need a nap?

This was the stuff working moms daydreamed about.

But, it was a much different experience than dropping them off and picking them up from school, camp or daycare. This woman was caring for my children on my turf, cutting the crusts off of their sandwiches in my kitchen and cuddling up to read them a book on my couch, where I sit with them.

And she was good. Actually she was amazing. I had a front row seat to how much my kids were enjoying having her around.

So, here’s how it really felt to have a nanny caring for my kids.

I felt like I was no fun.

Suddenly, I was coming home to squeals of joy from my kids as the nanny was chasing them, tickling them, playing super fun games with them. They would tell me that it was the “best day ever,” and that is a direct quote.

I would, of course, reply “That’s great!” but, really, I was wracking my brain, trying to think of the last time I made them laugh that hard or did something that warranted a “best day ever” proclamation, which is like the Emmy of motherhood when you have little girls ages 3 to 9.

I thought about all the boring things I got stuck with like doctor’s appointments, baths, making sure they ate well-balanced meals.

I felt inadequate.

My nanny was helping my kids with their homework. I can remember witnessing them having that “ah ha” moment when they finally grasped a difficult concept. The one I had desperately tried to help them achieve the day before. Only, I wasn’t the one sitting next to them this time, she was. I was just getting home with arms full of groceries or dry cleaning. This always left me wondering what else I was missing.

I felt like I wasn’t in control.

She would stick around after I got home to help out while I got settled, started dinner or put a load of wash in. I know what you’re thinking, that’s awesome, right? But, secretly, I always wished she’d leave right away. This was in part because I wanted to trade in my bra for my favorite PJ’s. But it was also because I wanted my kids to myself. I wanted to regain control of my household.

Let’s not forget the guilt.

I felt guilty having someone else put my little ones to bed while I drove my oldest daughter to and from gymnastics. It sounds ridiculous. How could I possibly be in two places at once? But, I wanted to be all and do all for my children, however impossible that seemed.

But, despite these feelings, I could not deny the value in having her there.

As time went on, I learned some things about myself and what it takes to have a successful working relationship with a nanny.

I had unrealistic expectations and I needed to get them in check.

This was a 25-year-old college grad with no children, not my clone. I could not expect her to take care of my children the EXACT same way that I did. I had to let go, however uncomfortable it felt at the time, and believe me, it was uncomfortable.

I had to let go of things like mismatched outfits and the art supply bomb that appeared to have detonated on my kitchen table.

I had to take a deep breath coming home to dirty little feet because they wore their crocs in the sandbox instead of sneakers and tracked dirt all through the house.

I had to tell myself it was okay that they went out for ice cream and that my youngest missed her nap.

It takes time to get it right.

This person is attempting a great feat, weaving themselves into the tapestry of a family, a household. And she needed to be just as patient with me as I was with her at times. From the novel length emails I sent, in the beginning, detailing everything from the snacks I preferred they eat to limits on screen time, to the barrage of neurotic reminder texts and last minute “Oops, I forgot, she has to be at practice at 5, not 6” texts.

Most of all, having a nanny doesn’t make me any less their mama.

I am a mother who has a career outside the home, so childcare isn’t going away for me anytime soon. But, there is no amount of special outings, finger paintings or extra-gooey brownies that can replace the bond that I have with my children.

I am still their home, their safety, their source of unconditional love.

So, I’ve finally convinced myself, it’s okay to have an amazing nanny. In fact, it’s awesome.

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