Today I’m going to share a huge portion of my life — being a nanny. To be honest, I’m totally shocked I haven’t once blogged about this before! When I am asked what I do by new people I meet, I avoid the question because sometimes I feel embarrassed that it’s not a “career” job which most college graduates attain, say…. a nurse, a teacher, a hairstylist, or even an author. It’s plain, old, just a nanny. But little did I know, this “job” would soon become one of the best decisions in my life and I’d fall in love with every part of it. Being a nanny is so much more than just turning on the TV and ignoring the kids. I have changed more diapers than most adults my age who don’t have children. I’ve dealt with level 10 tantrums, sibling wars, nonstop whining and tattle telling. I have cooked hundreds of meals and fed hungry stomachs. I have folded mountains of laundry. I have prepared bottles and snacks. I have played the role of “Taxi Mom” to soccer practice, baseball games, piano lessons, and late night’s at friend’s houses. I have helped with homework and school projects. I have disciplined. I have problem solved. I have multi-tasked. I have snuggled. I have loved.
Some days I walk out of the house thinking that I could totally manage having a few kids of my own. Other days I walk out of the house feeling like I failed and never ever want to suffer from “parent guilt.” But most days I find myself deeply invested in each individual child. I am constantly learning new ways to look at certain situations. I am always being stretched to learn how to be a better version of my adult self. I am someone the kids can look up to, and I do the dirty work that others don’t have the time or desire to do. I mean, I pretty much consider myself (and every person who cares for kids as a living) to be a mix between Mary Poppins and Wonder Woman. I may not quite fly with an umbrella, but I wipe boogers and cure bloody knees so that’s just as magical in my opinion.
In a way, nannying has shown me what parenting is like. It has taught me that the Lord depends on His daughters to carry out His work by raising children upright in the Gospel. In truth, our duty as parents is to help children find joy in living the gospel but to do that on top of bathing, cleaning, and cooking?!?! Blah. It’s difficult and feels impossible. Even though it is a great responsibility we have to teach them, more often than not I find myself being taught by them. Here’s just one example.
During the month of September, I watched a family of four kids while their parents were traveling Europe for 3 weeks. The parents left me an envelope with $300 inside to pay for food, activities, and anything else that came up while they were away. I had the envelope in my backpack when I picked up the five year old girl from kindergarten and I took her to McDonald’s for an ice cream cone & to play in the play place. We stood in line for our ice cream and as soon as I ordered, this little girl did a little potty dance telling me she had to go to the bathroom. Frazzled, I paid for the ice cream and took the cones in exchange. I followed her around the corner and waited for her outside the stalls. She washed her hands, grabbed her ice cream cone, and ran back out the door. We sat at the booth and talked about her day at school while we munched on our afternoon treat. When we later climbed back into the car, I had the thought to check for the envelope in my backpack. It was gone. I had a small panic, and told this little girl we had to go back inside. She questioned why but I simply told her I forgot something. I asked several workers if they had seen the envelope, looked high and low in the bathrooms, the play place, near our booth, and even in the garbage cans. No where. It had vanished. We walked back to the car and I explained through my fear and tears to my sweet little nanny girl that I had lost the money her parents left for us. She started crying too and said, “Maw-lee, we need to say a prayer!” I hugged her, asking if she wanted to say it. She nodded and asked Heavenly Father for help. “Please help us find the money so my parents don’t get mad at Maw-lee and she can babysit us again.” Every prayer we said before their parents came home, the kids took turns asking that we could find the money. We went to McDonald’s nearly every day and even though the money never turned up, these kids taught me that sometimes all you can do is pray, pray, pray! And they had enough faith to do so.
I quit my day job to be a nanny because it’s been an opportunity to give motherly lessons and no preparation to become a mother one day is ever wasted. Being a full-time babysitter/nanny/caregiver/practice mom/whatever you wanna call it, has certainly been a tender mercy for me because I am blessed to see the light of Christ in little children on a daily basis. It truly is the best (and messiest) job in the world.