I never thought I’d have children. My goal in life was to travel the world and experience things far, far away from home. Then I got pregnant and was far away from home, and quickly realized how lonely motherhood could be.
Growing up, my mom was my only caregiver. After struggling with over a decade of unexplained infertility and a complicated pregnancy, she decided to quit her booming career to become a stay-at-home mom. Sure, sometimes my grandmother took the night shift so my parents could go out to a fancy event, but mostly she did everything solo.
When my son was born on a cold February afternoon, my parents were in a different city. They were freaking out trying to buy plane tickets to make it in time (which they didn’t) and that’s when it hit me: Being a mom far away from my family is—on top of all the other ways motherhood is hard—a challenge I would have to learn to overcome.
All too quickly my maternity leave was over and it was time to go back to work. The stress of finding childcare in a city that is not yours, in a language that is not your first, in a place where everyone is so busy and disconnected overwhelmed me.
My husband and I decided we wanted to have a nanny because that would give us the flexibility we needed with both of us sometimes working long hours way past bedtime.
And so the interviewing began.
I struggled with the idea of leaving my 6-month-old tiny human with someone I didn’t know. Everyone we talked to had stellar references and yet I would find reasons to keep looking. I even had a panic attack thinking we would never find someone and declared that that was it, I was quitting my job, even though I didn’t really want to. It was all so overwhelming.
Until we found her.
I knew she was going to be our nanny the second she asked to pick up our son and he smiled at her.
She was gentle and caring, even when she had just met all of us.
She didn’t mind the chaos caused by our dogs barking or that our apartment was tiny and cramped.
She immediately felt like family. Like the family we didn’t have physically near us.
I thank her every day for the things she does for us.
For cooking delicious meals for our son and helping his taste buds expand to new flavors.
For being a holding hand while he was learning how to walk.
For teaching him Spanish and making sure he knows how to say phrases in both languages—because she knows how important that is for us.
For taking him on all the adventures we can’t take him on because we are busy at work all day.
For going to the park and letting him make new friends and interact with children of all ages.
For giving us the peace of mind that he is well taken care of, loved, respected and nurtured every single day.
For reminding me that I need to buy more diapers (oh, they don’t magically appear at our doorstep?).
For sending me photos every day, which always have my smiling, shining, little boy in them.
For teaching him respect and setting boundaries, especially now that he is a rebellious toddler.
For teaching me how to be a better mother—after all, she has raised her children and grandchildren successfully so she’s an encyclopedia of knowledge compared to me.
And for allowing us to have a date from time to time, even encouraging us to do so when we feel bad for making her stay way past her normal hours.
I sometimes get jealous of my friends who can pick up the phone and ask the grandparents to take care of their children. I’m jealous of childless weekend trips and vacations with families.
Sure, we are missing out on that, but I’m so, so, so thankful for what we do have: a newly adopted Grandmother (I call her our third Grandma jokingly, but also, I’m for real.)
My version of motherhood is not the same as my mom’s was or even what my friends have, but it is exactly what my family needs. I wouldn’t be able to be the parent I am if it weren’t for our nanny. And for that, I will forever be grateful.