What Being a Nanny Means to Me
By Sarah Faria.
Being a nanny is not all the “glitz and glamour” that it appears to be when parental cheating scandals are exposed on TMZ. It's not private jets and family vacations to run on the beach with kids every other month. It's not driving expensive $100,000 cars to drop kids off at school or run to the grocery store for organic lettuce. It's not getting your makeup and hair done before you go to a toddler and me yoga class while sipping lattes with your nanny friends. It's not letting kids watch television all day, so you can sit on social media “liking” pictures of everyone you know. It's much more difficult than all of that.
I've been a nanny for almost a decade now, working for families that have appreciated every single thing I did, and of course some that still barely acknowledge my existence, even though I single handedly raised their children because they were always "busy," and of all the things it's taught me, being reliable, being responsible, and being a role model are at the top of the list. While most employees have co-workers and others who they can rely on when things are tough, nannies don't. I don't get to call someone to cover my shift if I didn't sleep well the night before, or if I stayed out late all weekend. I don't get to leave early because the kids have been whining all day, making up the hours another time. I don't get to sit in a break room and complain to my peers about all the bad bosses I've had. I don't get to call in sick last minute because I AM the coverage, I AM the backup, I am the child care the parents rely on.
And sure, after ten years on the job I've tagged along on family trips (never to a remote island to lounge around in a private house), I've used parents' cars for outings (ask me how to make a minivan look cool, just ask me), and of course there have been the occasional snuggle and movie days, (but those are few and far between).
Being a nanny requires being able to come into someone else's home to help run the show for them in their absence. It's about having a parent ask you a question about how to do something with their kids, and knowing when they just need to hear they're amazing parents, and when they want to hear your feedback. It's about all the little things along the way that help children grow.
Being a nanny is temper tantrums and changing diapers. It's sleep training a baby, just to have to start from scratch after the weekend. It's crunched up goldfish on the floor that just crumbled in between your toes because the kids didn't pick them up after snack. It's running in circles, even when you're completely out of breath and dizzy, because the kids asked you, "Just one more time please," and you've been working on manners all month, so how can you refuse? It's paint smears on their bodies (and your clothes) after making a Mother's Day card for your boss. It's folding laundry, vacuuming, mopping the floors, and sometimes washing dishes three times in a row because the kids wanted to bake afternoon brownies. It's building castles out of blocks, teaching a kid how to throw a football, practicing spelling each other's name in a workbook, counting all the way to 20, knowing all the words by heart to a book you've read over and over again, tractors, train tracks, science experiments, and everything in between. Because even on my worst days, I'm still a teacher, a chef, a coach, a best friend, a person to cuddle when they're sick and mom's not home, an architect of dump truck sites, a referee for dance-off parties, a Lego master builder, a maid, a human jungle gym, a comedian, a voice of reason when they’re acting up and dad's not going to be back until later, and most importantly the hider of the good snacks.
It's hearing a kid say your name for the first time, cheer for your favorite sports team, or remember a joke you told them a year ago. It's when you run into them at a restaurant with their parents and they run up to you and give you a hug; it's the first time you see a kid complete a task you've been trying to teach them for days upon days. It's being able to love with every single beat of your heart, even though you didn’t give birth to them, knowing that at the end of the day, they're still not yours.
It's letting them make this mess just because they "wanted to" and cleaning it all up before your boss gets home, just so you can come back tomorrow morning to do it all over again.
…And finding out only when you're at the register picking up your pizza on the way home from a long week, that you have stickers from craft time stuck to the side of your arm.