My mom loves “Baby Boom” and in particular, the scene where Diane Keaton interviews potential nannies. My own nanny interviews went similarly– some too young, too immature, too weird. In response to asking if she was a career nanny, one retorted, “what is a career anyway?” Well, I know what a career is and that’s why I have to hire a nanny. I thought a lot about what type of nanny I was looking for and decided it was… Mary Poppins. I wanted someone who could pull anything out of her purse, who could make sidewalk chalk come alive, and whose laughter was infectious. So when we finally interviewed L and she showed genuine interest in my son, came with good references, and seemed like someone who I could talk to for hours, I figured she was the next best thing. Best of all, we were done with the horrendous interviews.
Three weeks later came the 6 month shots and L called me at work to say that N had a fever and was inconsolable. Hearing my baby screaming on the other end of the phone was torture. I worried that he was having a reaction to the vaccines and instructed her to meet me at the hospital. He was fine as soon as I picked him up out of the car seat. L on the other hand, looked distraught. They spent the rest of the afternoon at my office. I sent her to the cafeteria to eat lunch and take a break, wondering myself if N just needed some mommy love or if L wasn’t able to meet his needs. Selfishly, I figured it was all about me and gave L another chance.
Weeks turned to months and while she continued to let me down on the Mary Poppins front, she otherwise seemed to be working out well. Then one day, she left her diary at our house. We knew we shouldn’t read it. We didn’t read it for a whole day. Until we read it. “You’re going to want to read this,” is what B said to break my moral fortitude. In red ink in various handwritten fonts scrawled across two pages were the scariest words I have ever read. “N won’t stop. Won’t. Will not. Will not. Shoot me. Shoot me. Silence. Shoot me. Almost done. Hate this. Shoot me. Go to sleep. He refuses to sleep. Only slept 1/2 hour today. Hate myself. Love myself. SHUT THE CRACK UP. Breathe. Breathe. Its just crying. Calm. Calm. Calm. Sleep. Go to sleep. Sleep. Sleep. Sleep. Want to punch myself and the baby.”
Giving your baby over every day to another person is a painful experience, made less painful by the belief and trust that this person loves your baby nearly as much as you do. I believed this to be true, until I read this. Since that moment I have gone through many, many emotions: disbelief, anger, fear, sadness, rage, frustration, anxiety, confusion, guilt, bargaining, and more anger. The one that lingers now two months later is betrayal.
I wish many things as well– that we had interviewed more nannies, that we hadn’t hired L, that we found the diary sooner, that she told us how she felt sooner, that I listened to my gut. I also wish that I had left her a note in her diary before returning it to her. It would say, “N won’t stop. Won’t. He’s determined. He’s strong, opinionated, and passionate- everything you are not. You aren’t almost done, you are done. Go to hell, go to hell, go to hell. SHUT THE F*@$ UP. Breathe. Breathe. I’m crying. Calm yourself. Go to hell. Hell. Hell. I want to punch you.”
But I didn’t write that, so instead, I’m writing this post. I don’t know what the moral is of this cautionary tale, but I talk to working moms all the time about their nanny issues, or daycare woes, and we all struggle with how to ensure our child will be loved in our absence. I know I’m no Mary Poppins myself, but I know for sure that no one loves N more than I do. So the next nanny I hire will either have to match that or fly in on an umbrella.