Thursday

A Father's Experience with the Nanny Game

Received Thursday, September 28, 2006
My wife and I have been through some interesting... processes... with several nannies.
Our longest relationship with a nanny -- whom our four-year-old son adored, and, still, years on, remembers frequently -- included helping her deal with the truly bad behavior of her drug-dealing, drug-using partner-of-choice, and her own drinking, which -- while it did not take place while she was with our son (as far as we know) -- did on a weekly basis cause her to 'call in sick', setting off that cascading chain of schedule failures among me, my wife, and our clients that I'm sure other readers know well.

I have sympathy for the 'be positive about nannies when you can' position, and very little for the holier-than-thou position parents like to adopt with nannies.

When we decide to bring a nanny into the care-giving process for our children, we are not hiring an employee. We are adding a member to the family, a member with the emotional authority and responsibility of a parent -- and I think we have a moral obligation to accord that member of the family the same care and understanding (and, yes, tough love, too) we accord to any other family member.

I am still not done sorting out what I observed about, and learned from, this particular nanny, but I can say this: in our case at least, my son had three parents, and we had an odd sort of intimate relationship with our nanny. The nanny's close and loving relationship with my son threatened both my wife and me, at times, and we reacted badly on those occasions, usually. We didn't want to be usurped. The nanny herself got confused from time to time about who my son's mother was, and felt it was appropriate, more than once, to tell my son that in essence his mother was clueless. Our nanny made rather overt attempts to compensate for what she saw as our 'failings' as parents, particularly our failure to bring our son up within an established religion -- she snuck my son off to the local church at least once a week.

And, like me, and like my wife, she carried tons of baggage from her childhood and rearing into her work as a nanny, and, when in doubt, did what was done to her as a child. She lied to us, repeatedly, was unreliable in the extreme, and caused huge amounts of emotional discord between me and my wife.

And we depended on her, utterly. And gave into her charge our son.

Our nanny left us, after almost three years, when -- at 35 years of age, mind you -- she decided she needed to get off the sauce and get a 'real job.' She went home -- to her father. Everyone cried for hours the day she left.

We've had other nannies since then. Our current nanny likes taking our son to the Dollar Store (every day, nearly), and so our house is filled with plastic toys made in China, and my son's head is filled with all the basic rules of American consumerism. She also likes to spend time with her mother-in-law, who's a professional foster mom specializing in the care of kids whose parents are doing time for meth convictions, so my son runs with a pack of older kids from broken homes (some of whom have two parents in the can), who have taught him about guns (verboten in our house), police, jail visits and other things we'd rather not have him exposed to.

Just the other day -- our current nanny relates to us in a breezy tone -- our four-year-old held a six-year-old in his arms while the six-year-old bawled because, the night before, both his parents were hauled off by the cops for dealing.

My wife is a perpetually furious with our current nanny as she was with our alcoholic no-sense-of-boundaries nanny. Yesterday, she suggested we call our long-running ex-nanny at her father's house and offer to bring her back, house her, help her get back on her feet, just to have her back in our lives, and our son's life. And the idea appealed to me. Better the Lutheran God than the Dollar Store. Better booze than meth. For sure.

A nanny isn't an employee, to whom you can hand a (however detailed) job description, and whom you can correct, discipline, fire. The contract we offer our nannies is the contract a family offers a family member -- mostly unspoken, hard to interpret, frequently violated. And I also know that I could chose to live another way -- a way that put my son not 'first among equals' with job and marriage, but actually first. I could stop working. I could be his primary, daily caregiver, and then he'd be surrounded by the neuroses and bad habits and failings of his father, not his nanny. My wife could make peace with the ambitions and plans that motherhood has delayed or altogether thwarted, and be that primary caregiver. She -- or I -- could spend all day, every day, focused solely on the well-being of our son.

I readily admit that I personally cannot make the change I know to be possible. I am too selfish. Perhaps there is a saint among us who can cast that sharp and heavy stone, and say to me, with complete authenticity: you shouldn't have had a child, then. But I doubt it. Nannies are the embodiments of our selfishness, our desire to have time for other things, and as such they are a constant reproach to us, just by being, by standing there holding our children while we pack our bag for that quick trip out of town. We load our own guilt and freakishness onto them, as surely as they bring their failings and frailties to their work.

My wife -- for whom this is a serious, daily, issue -- periodically decides to boot the nanny-o'-the-moment and immerse herself totally in care-giving. I convince her not to do so. I don't want my wife to make a change, because I want life-after-childhood for her, and with her. Each day, I want her to have a few hours to dream, screw around, plan, create. Otherwise, I am afraid she will emerge from that first period of intense mothering so drained of herself that I will have lost my wife, in some material ways, forever. This idea is intolerable to me, in part because I saw such a terminal exhaustion happen, in my first marriage, with my elder son. He had no nanny. And by age 8, he also had no mother. She had been....evacuated. And in my estimation she has never recovered, may never recover.

So we have a nanny. Several nannies. We're serial nanny-izers, really. And our son will pay whatever price there is to pay for these decisions of ours, and perhaps when he is older he will take us to task for those decisions, in one way or another. I watch closely for signs that the price is too high, and I see no signs that he's paying any significant price so far -- no bruises, no strangeness. He trips down the streets of cities in foreign countries, introducing himself to strangers and babbling about his new puppy and his rugby ball. All seems well.

But I'm sure he's had a lot of soda, and times when he ran amok on playgrounds and in shopping malls while his nanny screwed off. And I am sure that he's seen a thing or two that no child should see.

I read these blog postings -- of nannies dangling shoes as toys and slipping soda into sippy cups and being otherwise human (along with the postings about monsters, I'll grant you) -- and I wonder if the posters incensed by the soda and the shoes ever reflect on the fundamental salient fact that nannies enter our lives because of choices we make, and remain there (or not) because of choices we make.

Everyone is culpable. Only a few are ever, truly, guilty. And anyone telling a story in which one party is wholly innocent, and the other wholly guilty, is not to be trusted.

43 comments:

Anonymous said...

A question for the dad who wrote this: why not use a nice daycare center instead of an alcoholic nanny who undermines the boy's mother or one who takes your young child to play with older, troubled kids? Daycare centers are licensed and inspected by the state. They offer age-appropriate activities. There are many eyes there in the form of multiple caregivers and other parents. There are no cascading scheduling failures for parents if someone calls in sick. Children have playmates their own ages and someone supervising the activities of all of them.

If you have a gem of a nanny, that's wonderful. But if someone is inappropriate for your child and family, why leave him with her? You and your wife are the child's only parents.

If your wife really wants to care for your son herself most of the time, I don't understand the objection to that. Anyway, good luck.

Anonymous said...

How about taking care of your kids yourself instead of working all day to buy that cavernous big house and that big screen TV?

priorities out of whack

Anonymous said...

Seems that your first marriage/baby experience made you give up some principles and loose the common sense... guess it's time to review some concepts, dude. Decent human beings and decent nannies didn't disappear from the face of the earth. Plus, the Dollar Store won't turn kid into a consumption freak (altough I admit that a daily visit is too much) it will be the lessons "you" teach him and the examples that you give. But please, don't call the old nanny back. And good luck for all of us.

Anonymous said...

I wrote the last comment and looked at your posting again and decided to add a couple more cents. Your posting disturbs me. There was one rationalization after another for placing your son in inappropriate settings and troubling circumstances with less-than-ideal nannies.

I cannot fathom why you would prefer this for him than that he spend his days with his mother, who apparently wants to care for him full-time or most of the time. Yes, children need for their parents' marriages to be strong and healthy -- and yes, children's needs deserve high priority. They are young and vulnerable and can't make their own life decisions yet, so they need parents to be somewhat unselfish in making those decisions.

That doesn't mean mom and dad can't go out or get a weekend away. It doesn't mean the child should be placed in subpar care, either, because daddy is afraid that mommy will become "drained of herself" and won't be the same ole gal he married. Guess what? She's not exactly the same gal you married, because she is a mother, and that is a fundamental part of who she is now.

She can still be wife and lover, too. Handing your son to a nanny who gives inappropriate care doesn't guarantee that your wife will find whatever that right mom-wife balance it is that you want - and she may resent you for talking her out of her chance to spend more time with her son.

Or you can find a better nanny or set clear guidelines with the one you have now on where you do and do not want her to go with your son. She may not be an ordinary employee, but you are paying her to care for your precious child. It's your role to protect him. You should be able to do that by establishing clear policies with the nanny.

Anonymous said...

So what takes presedence here? Your guilt over chosing and maintaining the wrong type of nannies in your employ or your selfishness at not wanting to lose your wife to your child? Seriously, yes you are to blame but at least you are aware and can do something about it before you see the signs. They aren't always obvious to the eye btw. I agree, find a licensed daycare. Poor kid.

Anonymous said...

I think this is fantastic. Not the situation, but the honesty of it all. This guy is simply being honest to himself and the situation he knows he created. The reality is that not everyone can afford daycare, not everyone can adhere to the schedule of daycare, not everyone wants to give up their life. Parents feel an obligation to give up their lives to raise a child. My mother gave up her life to raise me, and now my parents are getting divorced. So perhaps the crazy nannies might impact the children, but a divorce after 30 years of marriage and 3 kids makes me feel guilty- makes me wonder whether putting me in daycare, or hiring a nanny would have saved their marriage. A bad nanny in my opinion is better than a childhood of lies.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry your parents are divorcing. Do you really think they are splitting after 30 years of marriage because your mother was a stay-at-home mom? I doubt that that was the main reason, if a reason at all, and certainly not the only reason. Even if it were, you should feel no guilt over it. Your parents were the grownups. It's sad, but not a reason for you to feel guilty.

Did your mom really "give up her life" to raise you? Or did she give up a job? Did your father force her to do that? I assume you and your siblings have been grown for a while, so if your mom feels she has missed something, it must be more than whatever she gave up to be a stay-at-home mom.

The fact that your parents are splitting now doesn't mean you had a childhood of lies. It sounds like you probably had a happy childhood, and that was real. Your parents may have been happy then, too, even if one of them now says it's been forever since he or she was happy.

You're understandably feeling and looking at this from a child's point of view, even though you're probably an adult. Children can add stress -- along with joy -- to even the strongest marriages. It's the job of the husband and wife, not their children, to keep the marriage strong and healthy.

You might have been fine in a good daycare, but I don't think placing you with a crazy nanny would have helped your parents' marriage. I am sure you realize that there are marriages of all stripes -- those with stay-at-home moms, those with two working parents -- that break up after many years. The childcare arrangements alone are unlikely the key culprits.

Anonymous said...

Wow these comments are totally insane. If you believe in "good" and "bad" nannies (words carefully disguised as appropriate and inappropriate) then you might as well believe in the tooth fairy and Santa Clause.

The original post had it correct when he talked about the nanny as a human being. The respondants would do well to truly examine self and faithfully discover their true reality.

Anonymous said...

You can't find a nanny that isn't crazy because everyone is insane to some degree. That is what it means to be human.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the orignal post. The nannies are neither good nor bad, crazy or sane. Normal humans.

Anonymous said...

Paying more for a qualified nanny may be an option. Or daycare. Or since the mom in this case is willing to stay home, that may be an option. Staying at home doesn't mean she'll lose herself. The dad can pitch in more w/childcare so she can enjoy some me time. Leaving the kid in the care of people w/substance problems is dangerous. What if something happens to the child while visiting the environment where guns, drugs and probably abuse are common?

Anonymous said...

Sure, everyone is crazy to some degree. I have a nanny that is flawed. But the thing is we know all about it. She isn't secretive or devious. I had friends tell me to and I quote, "get rid of that one". Five years later, she is still here. She knows all of my hangups and weaknesses and I know hers. We know Dh's too. We work well together. Our children are not perfect but they are happy, loving and exceedingly honest. Our nanny is a role model for the children. She has screamed at them and lost her temper in traffic and used bad language. But she apologized to the children and then told us. Honesty. It rocks!

Anonymous said...

What moved me in the original post was the story of the 6-year-old boy who was devastated because his parents had been arrested the previous night. The 4-year-old boy who comforted him sounds very sweet. I have to wonder, though, how healthy it is for that 4-year-old to be exposed to that sort of trauma, even indirectly, at such a tender age. It's bad enough that the 6-year-old had his troubled parents ripped from him; it's upsetting for me to think about it, so why should a 4-year-old needlessly worry about it, and about whether he might become torn from his parents? He doesn't need to learn about hard knocks at his age.

Anonymous said...

The original post is extremely melodramatic. Of course a nanny is a person and should be respected as a human being. This doesn't mean a nanny shouldn't meet certain standards as a professional caregiver. It's amazing how you selfishly rationalize your nannies' problems. There are many qualified and reliable nannies to choose from. Why don't you do your research and find one?

emilene said...

What a surreal and rambling post. It seems that your subconscious guilt over being inherently selfish and wanting it all, and having to employ someone else to care for your kids, lead you to justify every bad trait your nannnies have. Umm... yes... "nannies are humans", "nannies are people too"--no kidding!! and... newsflash--there are good people, bad people, flawed people, irresponsible people, and people that maybe should not be taking care of children. Just take the time to find yourself a qualified, well-deserving, and responsible childcare professional and stop whining. Be friends with your old nanny if you want, but don't have her take care of your children. It's pretty simple--no need to psychoanalyze the situation.

Anonymous said...

Jane Doe --
Not all women are doomed to suffer the fate of your exwife. Its not fair to compare your wife to her anyways.

It is possible to be a stay at home mom and do a lot of things that are solely for personal growth and satisfaction with your time (write a book!, volunteer, get a hobby, open your own business!) Taking a few years off during your childs formative years will probably make a HUGE difference in your kids life (and a positive impact on yours too). Maybe there were other issues in your previous marriage -- especially if it dissolved.

Granted money is important, but dont' let the instant gratification of a job overrule the wonderful return on investing in your family. How often do you all go on trips? Camping, travelling, visiting relatives, going to museums, anything? Do you help your kid with their homework? Do you read to him everyday?

Think about how you are assuming life will repeat itself all over again....and rememeber not everyone is the same, so don't compartmentalize people. Good Luck, and I hope you really think about your choices. Give your wife the benefit of the doubt,and support whatever she decides to do wholeheartedly, and let go of the past.

Anonymous said...

There are many roles that a person can take on in their lives -- I have been a stay-at-home mom, a part-time mom, and a full-time worker. If at any time I truly doubted the quality of care that my child was receiving, I would have stayed at home. Period. No f-ing job is worth wondering if your child is hanging out with meth addicts or their children. If you can't get that, god bless you.

Anonymous said...

sometimes trauma builds us up to be the wonderful and interesting people we are

best to avoid trauma where possible, but a little bit of trauma can mean the world of difference (in many, many ways) many years down the road

food for thought

Melissa said...

I admire your honesty and this line is so true in so many parts of all our lives.

"Only a few are ever, truly, guilty. And anyone telling a story in which one party is wholly innocent, and the other wholly guilty, is not to be trusted."

Also this: "Otherwise, I am afraid she will emerge from that first period of intense mothering so drained of herself that I will have lost my wife..."


Though I know other people have different experiences and make different choices, I have been at home with my children as their daily caregiver for nearly 8 years.

I've hobbled together my 'self' as best as I could but I do feel vacated a lot of the time. It's a choice we made that I would be home with my kids but there has been a cost and because I've lived this experience I understand not wanting to make that choice.

I admire your honesty with yourself.

Anonymous said...

(re the father's experience with nannies)
Maybe the main problem with getting nannies is that the writers expect people with not much education nor middle-to-upper-class background to have the same values as their employers, and to behave in the same way.

Anonymous said...

This OP breaks my heart. As a former nanny, and now a stay-at-home mom, I can tell you that nothing is more rewarding than the time I spend with my son. Being here for him has not ruined my life, it has given me life. It has showed me that no job, no car, no thing from any store will ever bring me the rewards and depth of emotions I experience everyday. I'm sorry the OP will never know that kind of relationship with his son, and sorrier still that his son won't.

Amelia said...

I started to read this but gave up at some relatively early point. If this writer presumably needs a nanny for his child because he and his wife work, where does he get the time to ramble on like this, on a web log? Talk about getting your priorities straight! And my irritation and disgust grew with every line: I cannot imagine hiring ANY nanny with the faults he describes in just the first two (I didn't get any further). No nannies who drink, no nannies who have connections to foster homes with kids from troubled backgrounds. This is insane! Why in the world would you allow your child to be even peripherally involved in that world?

I'm writing as a mother of two children, now ages 10 and 8, and we've always had help while I worked part-time (from the home). The first one was with us for four years and the only reason we didn't stay with her was because we moved to a new home that wasn't accessible by bus for her. Our subsequent nanny (who had always been our housekeeper/babysitter) took over after that, now having been with us for 12 years in some capacity. It's the parent's responsibility to find someone trustworthy and responsible and wholesome from the get-go, and it's the parent's responsibility to treat the nanny well so she will want to stay in her job. The only friends of mine who seem to "go through nannies all the time" are the friends who are clearly neurotic in all aspects of their lives.
I'm sorry to be so harsh, but this father's self-indulgence is nauseating, and I feel so sorry for innocent children who wind up damaged through no fault of their own.

Anonymous said...

This is absolutely the most self-serving and selfish thing I have ever read, and is an example of how screwed up most people's priorities are. It's OK to not want children, it's OK not to have any. BUT if you do, then their wellbeing has to come first. And guess what---some of us actually love being mothers and fathers. It doesn't "evacuate" our minds, it actually challenges and interests us, and makes us more interesting in return. My husband and I have raised 5 kids--one still at home--and we have more of a relationship than this poster and his wife ever will because we agreed on what was important and supported each other.

There is nothing wrong with two parents working and having good child care. But to rationalize your willingness to put up with behaviors in your nanny that place your child in harm's way for your own convenience is ridiculous. AND if your wife wants to stay home--for god's sake shut up and count your blessings. If she's happier, she's a better wife, mother, and friend.

Anonymous said...

OMG, STFU.

Whine, whine, whine. You really need to grow up and be a man.

Anonymous said...

My God, this post makes me sick. Support your wife in what she wants to do, whatever that is. That's being a good spouse. And maybe your wife wouldn't want to quit her job if she felt certain her son was being responsibly cared for. You do not have to make the kind of compromises you are making. And the biggest compromise is your child's safety and well-being. You are waiting for signs that he is in trouble, before you act? Knowing he is spending time most days in a troubled environment? Suspecting his caregiver is neglecting him? There are plenty of wonderful nannies out there. Your son deserves to have one, whether you believe that or not. It's YOUR responsibility to make that happen for him.

Anonymous said...

It seems that both you and your wife are professionals whose incomes, presumably, are substantial (they must be, if they're worth the angst you recount resulting from your decision to work out of the home and leave your child in the care of someone else).

Oh, wait a minute. It's not the money. You want to have a "life after childhood," and you worry that the stress of motherhood (not exactly a new occupation, by the way) will cause your wife to be "so drained of herself that [you] will have lost [your] wife, in some material ways, forever."

Good Lord in heaven, I couldn't write something so simultaneously sappy, condescending and nauseating if someone paid me to do it. In fact, I'm inclined to believe that yours must be a "joke" post, possibly by some college kid with a sardonic sense of humor.

But just in case I'm wrong, how's this for a suggestion: Hire someone who is well-qualified (such people do exist, you know), and pay her well. Not well by urban ghetto, alcoholic, meth addict standards. Pay her what a professional charged with shaping the next generation of humanity deserves to earn.

I really have no sympathy for parents who consider a couple hundred dollars a week and a moldy, windowless room in the basement (maybe with a 13-inch television and a used fan purchased at the Salvation Army, if the nanny is exceptionally lucky) to be sufficient compensation for raising a child.

One more thing: I wouldn't be too upset about your child learning that the world isn't perfect and that people do, in fact suffer. The only thing about your post that I found in the least bit touching was the mention of your child comforting another child whose parents had been arrested. That's a beautiful image to me. Your son responds to the pain of others not by immersing himself in self-righteous denial like you do ("things he should not see"), but by comforting those who weep. Not that terrible a thing, as far as I can see. In fact, I'd be pretty proud of him, if he were my son.

Maybe it's something he picked up from that "Lutheran God" Who you condescendingly compare to the Dollar Store. Jesus spoke of comforting the afflicted, weeping with those who weep, clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, and many other things that you apparently find unimportant, at best, seeing as how you are so troubled by your son's obvious and genuine compassion for another human being.

So my closing advice is this: Don't worry so much about your son. He's doing fine. Take a look at yourselves, instead.

Anonymous said...

Yikes... why so harsh??? The original post seems to be honest. The poster is just talking about how NOT PERFECT we all are. Then he gives details on some decisions he and his wife made, and, even though they are not the same decisions I have made since I became a mother - I respect his honesty. I especially respect his not being afraid to seem weak at times. We all make mistakes, but many of us don't ever admit to them. So many people think their way is the only way. Well, OF COURSE we like our ways - that's why we chose them - however, that doesn't mean all the others are totally wrong!
I always thought I was going to be a working mother. I was very ambitious, loved challenges... looking back - I THINK I might have looked down on stay-at-home mothers! But, for some reason, when I was about to become a mother, my professional ambition just disappeared - I wanted to be with my baby non-stop. I gave up 90K/year to stay at home with my kid (now two kids). Still, I do not consider working moms selfish, greedy, materialistic... Some HAVE to work in order to have a house, food, clothes for the family; some WANT to work because they like that kind of challenge... IT's THEIR decision, THEIR LIFE, it's not illegal, not immoral. As for my family... don't get me wrong - it's not like I don't care about money, NO WAY - we have half the money we had before, and twice the people in the family. I'd love to have more money, but it was either - or. It just was the right choice for us at the time we were about to become parents, and now, 4 years later, thankfully, we are still at peace with that decision. But I don't expect everybody to be just like me. My way is not the only good way for all!
What I am trying to say is - live and let live! The guy gave us his story, and even though we might not agree with everything he said (I am not too happy with the drinking nanny... and I do think the foster care thing is a great experience, and not something a child should not be exposed to! Except the guns, of course.) - all the bashing was just uncalled for.

Anonymous said...

"I don't want my wife to make a change, because I want life-after-childhood for her, and with her. Each day, I want her to have a few hours to dream, screw around, plan, create. Otherwise, I am afraid she will emerge from that first period of intense mothering so drained of herself that I will have lost my wife, in some material ways, forever.

The way you describe the potential outcome of your wife staying home is both chilling and validating to me, because for the first time ever I am witnessing in words what has become of me.

In my case, though, I wanted to stay home. I had a university position with my own office, and as much as I enjoyed being there, being with my daughter was so wonderful that I couldn't imagine going back. She was such a delight, that I couldn't wait to have a second child, and planned to have children two years apart. My son was born two years later. He turned out to be a handful, which everyone around me assured was simply the result of being a boy. However, it turned out that he has ADHD (he was diagnosed at 6, almost 7). Not the worst thing in the world, you might say, but let me tell you, the stress and conflict has worn me out to the point that I am no longer the person I once was. If I can look at my husband -- who goes off to work each day as ever, his outer life not altered -- and think to myself that I don't even know who he is anymore, I can only imagine what he thinks when he looks at me. The reason I don't know who he is? It's because my focus has shifted so dramatically, that he is just another "thing" I have to deal with.

You might ask why I don't spend more time outside the home, now that both of my children are well into their elementary school years (these were good and valid suggestions mentioned by another poster), but unfortunately, that is just not me. My former job was one in which I was able to recede into the woodwork, so to speak; I worked in a university setting but not with students, and not with many others, either (I was a publications writer and editor). I have no interest in working on any of the various mother-run committees at my children's school; I'm not one to long for an adult, botoxed-up version of the ultimate high school clique. (I'm sure many of you reading this know what I'm talking about). However, I do serve as a parent representative for my school district's special education committee. Here, at least, I feel I am serving a real purpose, one beyond raising money for a self-serving "Moms Night Out" at the country club, or an ass-kissing "Teachers Appreciation Luncheon" (I mean, the teachers are PAID, aren't they?) Or raising money for "extras" in a school district where spending per pupil is close to $20,000.

You might say that it seems more as if suburbia has driven me to the brink, but I actually enjoy my surroundings. I'm far from the perfect, Carol Brady kind of mother I would like to be (I find I'm more like the bus driver on "South Park"), and so when I read about all these less-than-perfect nannies, I can actually relate to them. Sure, there are really bad nannies -- and mothers -- out there, but most of us are just plain human. How can anyone expect a nanny to be beyond what they, themselves, might turn out to be, were they to spend every moment with their children? The mothers I see around me who appear the least stressed (strangely enough, the school-committee variety), not only are stay-at-homes, like me, but also have the added luxury of -- yes, you guessed it -- nannies.

I thought that being home meant no need for child care, but it turned out I was at least, in part, wrong. I might not have had need for someone during the day, but fell into the rut of spending not only my weekdays with my children, but weekends as well -- with no time alone with my husband. He works long hours, in a position that has required overseas travelling, so weekend time with the kids is pretty much his only time. This wasn't a conscious decision -- not going out on a Saturday night -- but kind of fell into place from the beginning, an entire decade ago. There were never even any relatives to relieve me -- not even when my first child was an infant, and I was alone day and night for weeks at a time when he travelled -- so being with the kids all the time became "normal" for me, so to speak, as well as for my husband and me when he was home. And so it has remained.

And so, I am no longer the me I was.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it's true that a nanny becomes a member of the family, but would you choose just anyone for your wife, let alone the part-time mother of your child? A nanny should become like a member of the family, and just as membership has its priveleges, priveleges should be revoked when members don't live up to the standards of the family.

Anonymous said...

To the previous poster who says "A nanny should become like a member of the family, and just as membership has its priveleges, priveleges should be revoked when members don't live up to the standards of the family."


"Member of the family" does not indicate that the nanny is a child member of the family. You wouldn't revoke priveledges from a spouse or a sibling, now would you? No, you wouldn't...you'd only do that to a child, your own child. Perhaps you didn't consciously mean it in that sense, but I get the feeling that a problem with the "member of the family" mindset is that lots of parents and families view the nanny as a lesser-than, as a child. This is not, and should not be, the case. Treat your nannies with the same respect you'd treat a coworker, and you'd be amazed at the results.

Anonymous said...

A nanny is not a member of the family. I love the children I care for, and have a friendly relationship with the parents, but it is a JOB! If you want a great nanny who will be responsible, and do a professional job, you need to understand that. Stop patting yourself on the back for keeping someone with a substance abuse problem. You are putting your child at risk.
A nanny

Anonymous said...

Agree a nanny is NOT a family member she or he is your employee and a contract is ESSENTIAL. Hiring and firing are as in any job. You lack the professionalism of a proper employer and your nanny is highly unsuitable to care for children (if what you write is true).

As an employer you have the right to reamin in control re: the places your son visits and how his time is spent. You are failing not only as an emploer but as a parent. There are excellent nannies out there (especially British ones, Ok I'm biased!) Take time to find a good one and your son will reap the benefits for years to come.

Anonymous said...

A nanny isn't an employee, to whom you can hand a (however detailed) job description, and whom you can correct, discipline, fire. The contract we offer our nannies is the contract a family offers a family member -- mostly unspoken, hard to interpret, frequently violated.

This statement right here is why you have problems with nannies. A nanny is an employee, and you should provide her with a detailed job description. You can't expect your nanny not to violate your terms if they are never articulated.

-I didn't read the other comments yet, so if someone already said the same thing, sorry for repeating!-

Anonymous said...

Sir, you are completely insane.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Jane- you made this guy famous! I saw his specifc entry being talked about on two blogs! Someone should send you flowers.

Anonymous said...

in response to some of the above comments: so many parents regard nannies as just "employees" but want nannies to regard the care of their child as "more than just a job". i find that to be a bit unfair don't you?

i think the guy has a valid point at the bootom of his post but i think that you need to set a limit. i understand that varied experiences make a more well-rounded person but take into consideration the age of the child and don't allow him to be exposed this so much of this stuff in his formative years.
while obviously we can't protect our children from everything we need to do so from the worst. and similarly even though we want to protect our children from everything we need to allow them exposure to the real world to help them for when they get older.

Anonymous said...

Uh, is this a joke?
A writer experimenting?
I hope so. If this is a real guy I feel sorry for whoever comes in contact with him. I could hardly get through his post it was so absurd. I mean, he starts off explaining that his nanny is an addict. Uh, ok...
And the part about the dollar store? Consumerism?
With all due respect (which is none at all really) this guy sounds like the typical wacko dumbass liberal who is contributing to the downfall of western civilization as we know it.
If he is real, to say he disgusts me would be an understatement.
I hope he doesn't expect anyone intelligent to take him seriously.
I would feel sorry for his wife but she sounds like a dumb liberal ass as well.

Anonymous said...

man, this guy should have never had kids

Anonymous said...

He sounds like he could be good in bed, though?

SEN said...

I'm not even sure if this is pertinent at this late point in time, but I thought I'd throw my figurative two cents in for the sake of it.

I am 20. My parents put both my sister and I in daycare from the time I was one until I was old enough for elementary school. Did I feel like I was neglected? Not at all. When I was little, I remember my mother expressing her guilt to me; she felt she should stay home and bake cookies. (Her words!) I recall rolling my eyes and telling her that I'd get sick of her doting on me all the time if she stayed home. In reading this, you have to realize that she was a teacher at my elementary school, so I saw her all the time--yet she still felt guilt for not being a stay-at-home mom.

So yes, I totally agree with the OP and his views towards his wife in regards to childcare. I'd be afraid I'd lose my wife, too. Children are exhausting--I may not be a parent, but I worked at an elementary school where I had constant contact with full classes of children. I left work at 4 o'clock everyday completely drained. I don't understand how some of the commentors say things like, "The mom is obviously willing to stay home..." Moms need lives too! Nannies and/or daycare aren't bad for a child. In fact, those things can be beneficial to the child's development.

OP--don't feel guilty. Nannies are human...but maybe I'd put the kid in a good daycare.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion you should grow up. You are responsible for how your nanny acts and how your child is raised.
Don't blame your problems on a nanny, wife, parents or any thing else. Take a look at your self and fix what is wrong instead of whining.
None of us are the same person we were yesterday and we can't stop that. The trick is to change in a positive way.
Your child is more important than either you or your wife, so get your priorities strait.
A job is only selling time so you can have a life, not a life in its self.
Staying at home can be a wonderful chance for personal growth.

Anonymous said...

try a male nanny after all he is a boy right?

Anonymous said...
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