Tuesday

"Mary's" Shadow

Received Tuesday, February 5, 2008- Perspective & Opinion
I have a problem. I didn't see it coming. I took a job with a family that seems as great as they did when I originally interviewed. The children seem even better. They are more generous than I ever imagined possible. The problem is I replaced their nanny of 5 years. Before I took the job, I spoke with her. She in part, sold me on this job. She told me how wonderful everyone was. She is working at a hospital about ten minutes away from where the family lives. She talks about her job as if she really enjoys it. I know she went to school for awhile to get her degree to work in this capacity. The problem is, she visits. That isn't so bad. She calls to check on me when she isn't visiting. Okay, maybe she is just being nice. She emails my boss, her former boss everyday. She shares stories with her about her new coworkers. My boss comes home and tells me and her husband about the emails. This usually leads to another "Mary" story or a child will want to call "Mary". Last night, the husband reminded the wife to pick out something for "Mary" for Valentine's Day. In April, "Mary" is going to Florida and she is staying with the children's grandparents. Everyone loves "Mary". In fact when people meet me, they invariably ask me about "Mary" and always tell me to 'Tell "Mary" we said hi'. I have only been here 4 1/2 weeks and I really like these people and really enjoy working with children in general. Question, will I ever get out from "Mary's" shadow?

21 comments:

SuperNannyNNJ said...

4.5 weeks is hardly any time at all. The children, family and everyone are going through an adjustment period similar to the one I went through with my latest postion. There were constant reminders of the previous nanny everywhere. Arts and crafts she'd done with the kids, pictures of them together, frequest phone calls, visits, etc. Very similar to your situation. Now, 18 months later, the previous nanny seldom calls and rarely visits, and the pictures she drew with the kids are replaced by mine. My picture with the kids now sits beside the other nanny's picture with them. I know it can be a bit awkward and weird at first but if you do a great job and form a special bond with the kids you will soon emerge from mary''s shadow. Remember the human heart, especially a child's, has an infinite capacity for love.

Anonymous said...

she was there for years, while you have only been there about a month. in those years, she had ample time to form a bond with all members of the family. she's always going to be an important part of their life. i am still a part of the majority of the families lives that i have nannied for. give it time. form your own bonds with all of them. and make sure you communicate with the former nanny when you need it. she will be a valuable asset in your job. hang in there. time will soften the adjustment for everyone.

Anonymous said...

Our nanny has been with us for 21 months. In that time we have become very close with her and me and my children have even accompanied her home to Arkansas (we are in Florida) to meet her parents, grandparents, aunts, etc. She is also very close to my extended family. I think it's wonderful and feel like one big family. She just "clicked" with our family. Now if I ever had to find another nanny, I could imagine that she may feel the same way you do. Since you've only been there 4.5 weeks, you haven't had a chance to make your own memories with the family. I am sure they will grow to love you as well. Don't measure yourself against the previous nanny, just measure yourself against yourself, doing the very best job you can do! I am sure the family will see that and come to appreciate you as much as they did her!

Anonymous said...

"Mary" must die.

emily said...

I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings (or bad predictions), but I've been in Mary's position, and I think you should face the strong possibility that the answer is no, you will never step out of her shadow. She was there for 5 years when the children were smaller and more impressionable and she's doing an admirable job of reinforcing the love she has for them, making the strong statement that just because your nanny moves on to a new job, she doesn't sto loving you (I wish more nannies would make this ongoing committment to their charges).

If being the most important person in these children's lives is very important to you, you're in the wrong business. They have a mother, they have a nanny they absolutely adore. Your job is to take care of them.

Maybe, just maybe, you will stay for a number of years and grow just as (or more) important than their former nanny. But if you're constantly (and selfishly) judging yourself against someone with whom you simply cannot compete with in the eyes of these kids, you will never ever get there.

mom said...

I know you may feel a bit awkward right now..but actually I think this is a great sign.
It shows that this family is probably really great to work for and that the kids are sweet...which is why Mary misses them. And they obviously treated the last nanny (Mary) with a lot of respect and made her feel welcome in their home, and maybe even as part of the family...which is also why Mary misses them. And they obviously valued her as a person...which is why they miss her.
I would suspect that they are hoping/planning on having just as wonderful and long lasting relationship with you as they have with her.
Be thankful that you are the one who has this great position and be patient abut the relationship. It's impossible to form real, deep, and lasting bonds with anybody without putting in a lot of time.
My family had just a few, very trusted and well loved babysitters over the years. It was always hard when one moved on (one went away to nursing school and another went on to law school), but because we loved them, we were happy that they were moving "ahead" in life. We kept in touch because they were people we came to care about. Eventually though, we would all come to love and trust the new sitter just as much...and then it would be just as sad all over again when she moved on. (Luckily we had only three over the whole time my kids were growing up, because it is really a very emotional thing to "lose" somebody you have bonded with...especially for the kids.

just anonymous said...

Give it more time, it will wear off. I know it's annoying now, but look at it this way-they are caring people who allow their nanny to become a true part of the family, and that's a rare find in our field of work.

§marypoppin'pills§ said...

I'm sure there may be little 'tinges' of jealousy because Nanny Mary has such a close (and seemingly lasting) bond with the kids, but remember this is for the good of the children. They are learning that just because their former Nanny moved on in life, it doesn't mean she will 'disappear' ... and it's very healthy for them to know that.

Give it some more time, and those kids will bond just as strongly with you. And as Nanny Mary gets busier with her life, she will probably fade a little more and more into the background, but hopefully not completely ... for the sake of the kids.

It really does sound like a lovely job, take your time with it!

Sarah said...

I also lived in a "Stephanie" shadow when I joined my family over a year ago. After about three months there was no mention of her. Now, I don't think my kids even remember having her. Do your best, and everyone will move on!!

tina v said...

Commence operation "bury mary".
Whatever ethncity or religion your people are, discover Mary was ANTI. Then discover Mary's myspace page. You're gonna have to be creative, but it's time to bring Mary down from her pedestal. Seriously, this is one of your option. Your other option is to quit, your third and best option might just to become president of Mary's fan club. Help the children make things for her. Call her with questions.

Anonymous said...

You will never replace their beloved Mary. Trust me, I was with a family for six months. And they idolized their past nanny, even before I left. I think its great to have a close relationship with each other. Don't get me wrong. Its just the family I worked for were not nice to me. And very cold and evil. So I was surprised how they always talked about their ex-nanny. Seemed to love her. Later found out she left because she didn't like them. And was very lonely working for them.

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a wonderful family to work for, so consider yourself lucky. Give it time. Children change and mature so rapidly, and you will be THE NANNY during this next period in their lives. So be patient and with time you will bond, and establish your own place in the family's affections.
UES Nanny

A Fabulous Nanny said...

Give it time girl. 6 months ago I stepped into a situation that I can totally relate to. Their nanny had been with them since BIRTH, and I was dealing with ages 8 & 7. It was first "mary this, mary that" on my end, and mary ALL the time, but 6 months later they rarely mention her. While they ARE impressionable, they will grow to love you so much, and only pull out the "Mary" card when you're not doing what they want you to haha. Best of luck, and hang in there- my first month was the worst, and each week it gets better :)

mom said...

Tina,
That's too mean. Mary doesn't deserve that to happen to her. Plus, it is entirely possible that she is not working for a family of idiots and they would see through such a shallow attempt to harm Mary's reputation for her own gain...and it would then serve only to ruin the reputation of the new nanny (OP.) The high road is always the best course.

Anonymous said...

Mom
I think Tina was saying what she said in jest. It sounds overly sarcastic.

mom said...

Oh good.
Sometimes it's hard to tell on a computer.
I've had that happen to me before too. I made a purposely very dumb comment, thinking it was funny...and then somebody called me dumb. Then I thought, "Well, how was she to know I was laughing here at my desk when I wrote it?"

MissDee said...

I can relate to this story from working at my old daycare, the one in Milwaukee that left the little girl on the van. The director lacked common sense and knowledge of child development, and kept telling me that "Yvette didn't run the room that way" "If Yvette was still here she could show you how to run that room the way it's supposed to be run" or my favorite, "I wish Yvette was still here so she could show you how to run that room properly". Yvette, Yvette, Yvette. Everytime I turned around, I heard Yvette's name, and how she ran the room better than I did, and how she was a better teacher than me.

For those of you who have worked in daycare or have worked with infants, you know that infants develop their own schedule, and they will let us, as caregivers and nannies, when they are tired or hungry. In daycare, schedules are followed, and older infants usually can adapt to the daycare schedule. This director's thing was that she didn't understand the fact that no, you can't have infants on the same schedule as the other children, that they are on their own schedule, until they get to be 10-12 months, then yes, you can put them on a schedule, because they are adjusting to the classroom routine, and the concept of time. This woman wanted all the babies fed by 10:30am, dishes done, and the babies put down for nap by 11:00. I asked her how having 3 babies under a year of age on the same schedule, when one of them was 3 months old, still developing a schedule, and the other 2 were 5 and 6 months, with varying schedules they were at the center, and the older of the two was pre term and had a weird schedule, due to the hours his mom worked. I explained to her the concept of developmentally appropriate practice, and pointed out a few state licensing rules for Wisconsin daycare centers, and no, you can't have a child under a year of age on a schedule, and you can't have them on the same schedule as a child over 1 year of age. In this particular class, I had 4 toddlers, 1 crawler, and 3 non mobile infants. She would constantly degrade my work, and tell me what a bad teacher I was, and that Yvette was so much better.

When it came time for evaluations, there was a space on the eval form to write things about our job that we weren't happy with. I wrote that I was tired of being compared to Yvette, that I was doing what I was taught to do when I took my state required classes, and what I knew from the state licensing handbook. I also wrote that I was my own person and I had my own way of teaching, because I am individual. A few days later, I was demoted to assistant teacher in the infant room. I left that center, and didn't even bother to go back. That director is one of the reasons why I am starting a childcare support group.

Give yourself time to adjust the family, and give the family time to adjust to you. Mary was there for 5 years, and you too, have many years ahead of you to make your own memories!

Kate in CO said...

I agree with many here........give it more time and you'll see...if you're good at your job, they'll LOVE you and Mary will be a distant memory soon! You can do it!!!! They sound like a great family.

Former Nanny Turned Mommy said...

When a family remains good friends with thier previous nanny, there is really no way to get out of the shadow... and trust... they probably talk about you with eachother.

How do I know... I am a former nanny who has a good relationship with the family I used to nanny for... and we talk about her new nanny, life, the kids and such. The little ones still think that at some point I'll return (i've been gone 1 year now) and tell the new nanny her car isn't as clean as mine, her ways are not the same, and that they want me back.

My opinion on this... get a new job where you are better than the old nanny... that is what I did and now I have a family who is friends for life! :)

Good Luck!

Anonymous said...

missdee--Good for you!! You were 100% right. My two girls were in a large daycare center when they were younger. There were separate rooms for different ages and there was no set schedule for the infants room for exactly that reason. The infants room had anywhere from 3 months to 18 months olds in it and each child was assigned a primary caregiver who would work with that infant based on his or her own schedule. As they got older, they did tend to get on similar schedules because they'd want to eat when others did and play when others did, but that is learned behavior that does not start until around a year. Once a group of children were synching on schedule, they would "graduate" up to the toddlers room that did have a set schedule (they liked to send at least 3 together to make the transition easier).

mom said...

Former nanny,
Your story make me sad. I always worry about how kids feel when somebody they love goes away...in this case, you. They are thinking you will come back someday. That makes my heart hurt.