Received Saturday, June 21, 2008 - Perspective & Opinion
O.k., new day, new problem. My mother in-law arrived on Tuesday to stay with us for approximately 3 weeks while some work on her home is being done. Much needed work. My mother-in-law is moderately wealthy but lives in a small 2 bedroom house with a basement. She doesn't use a dryer, but hangs all of her clothing in the dryer. She washes her clothing in a very old fashioned washing machine. She doesn't have cable because it costs too much. She reads the neighbors paper after the neighbor has read it. Meanwhile, she has about 700,000 in the bank.
I tell you this as a general background. She isn't a pleasure to be around and I was the worst case scenario for her pride and joy to marry. She is a hard worker. She mows her own grass.
I spoke to my nanny (who has been with us 14 months) before this and told her it was unavoidable that she would be staying here. The nanny is a live out and I like her a great deal. She is very quiet and doesn't socialize with a lot of other people but she is very warm with me and my child. She's quiet around my husband, so he doesn't get her like I do. But that's more of a reflection of his personality then hers. (I've been told he is quite intimidating.)
My husband wanted an Israeli nanny. The nanny is not an Israeli nanny. He's polite to the nanny but doesn't think she does enough in the way of intellectual and creative stimulation. He thinks his mother is misunderstood and he coddles her. She was married to a verbally abusive man her entire life who treated her like his maid. My husband has a lot of guilt about the fact that even as a young adult, he never stood up to his father, even while in the presence of such abuse. As such, I try to be understanding about the nature of his relationship with his mother.
On Wednesday, the nanny arrived and began her regular day. MIL was there at every turn questioning her about what she was doing and why and suggesting other things. She asked the nanny when she would read to the children (2 & 3.8) and when the nanny said, "when I have time", Mil lost it. She called up my husband and claimed nanny was rude. Since then, things have only escalated. Mil is attempting to care for the children citing the nanny's ineffectiveness. She has decried the nanny as rude, surly, insubordinate and lazy. The nanny, who I love and understand hasn't been on her best behavior either. The nanny always loads the dishes in the dishwasher that are left in the sink in the morning or after lunch. If I am working from home, she will even come and take my dishes from my office. The nanny seems to have gone out of her way to leave dishes and not touch anything that mil has touched or dirtied, a point that did not go unnoticed by mil. The nanny also fed the older child lunch even though mil walked to the deli. This became a big argument over the fact that mil didn't even offer to get the nanny a sandwich.
I have tried to be a peacemaker between not just those two parties but my husband as well who claims the nanny is showing no respect for his mother. I don't pretend to you that I like my mother in law, and for the most part, despite what comes out of her mouth, I am as nice as I can be to her. Perhaps I am curt or brief in the time I spend with her, but I am nice. If I put myself in my husband's shoes, I can imagine that if it were my mother, I would be incensed. To that end, I am a bit disappointed in the nanny
On Thursday night, I drove nanny to the train station and spoke with her in the kindest way. I thanked her for trying to be patient. I told her we only had two more weeks left. I apologized. I told her that mil does want to be a grandmother and relishes her time with the children (all true) and asked her if she could please try not to disclude her from their activities. The nanny told me that she was an impossible woman but she promised she would try harder. I drove home from the train station pleased with that result. I informed my husband who basically said that the nanny was replaceable and his mother was not and that was his house and blah blah blah. In short, he remained bitter about the things his mother had passed on.
On Friday morning, my husband asked the nanny why none of the "Boy 2's" games from his birthday had been opened. The nanny didn't really have a response and my husband told her that they were educational games and they weren't doing "boy 2" any good sitting in the closet.
I was in the next room but I overheard the tone of his voice and I don't think it needed to be as abrupt as it was.
Today is Saturday. Yesterday, the nanny was due to leave at 6, I was running late, I called and told her to be ready and I scooped her up and took her to the train. I had a call from work and I barely got a 'have a good weekend' out and even in retrospect am not quite able to assess what her mood was. I walk in the door at 6:20 and my mil is waiting. I know something is on her mind. I ask her what is wrong. She asks when "husband" will be home. I tell her. Then I say, "what is it, tell me". She shakes her head and says she will wait.
"Husband" gets home late. "Boy 1 and boy 2" are asleep. Husband sits down to eat cold pizza. I sit down to talk to him about his day. Mil resurfaces, "I need to speak to you" she says. She looks at "husband", ignoring me entirely. I look up at this post and I realize it is probably longer than it should be. I wasn't sure what to include and what not, but let me cut to the gist. MIL produces a wad of tinfoil, dramatically. "Husband" and I look at her. "Husband" goes to poke at it. Mil snatches it away. What is it? We ask. Mil claims that said object ( a brown nugget) is a pill that the nanny put in her coffee this AM.
Mil claims that on Friday morning, she was in the kitchen reading the paper and having coffee. She claims that "Boy 2" called out for her to help him get dressed because he didn't want the Nanny to help him. She claims that on her way back to the kitchen, she passed the Nanny who 'heckled her'. (?). Once she returned to her place at the kitchen table, she thought something was off. She took a sip of her coffee and it tasted strange, so she took the cup to the sink and dumped it out. In to the sink went the coffee and this brown pill that she now had in foil. Mil was claiming the nanny tried to kill her. The nanny tried to poison her.
I didn't believe it at all. "Husband" got upset with me over the tone I was taking with "Mil" Husband suggested we could resolve this right now by driving to the pharmacy. Mil thought the police should be called. The two of them drove to the pharmacy. I don't want to know what was said because it is our town pharmacy and I will have to show my face in there, but they returned with a verdict. It was a pill. (I had suggested it was clumped coffee grounds). The pill was a easily identified by the pharmacist as a 'Senekot' tablet. Or about 1/3 of a Senekot tablet as that was what Mil had gathered.
Husband believes Mil that nanny did put Senekot in her coffee. I asked why Nanny would put one Senekot in a constipated 70 year old's coffee. I suggested it would be a favor and not a punishment. Husband tells me the pharmacist says that they would dissolve quickly in a hot beverage so there could have been more. I do not think the nanny had anything to do with this pill in Mil's coffee. Husband thinks Nanny was angry about his instruction regarding the educational games which came about as a direct complaint against the nanny by Mil. Mil claims she was more angry when "Boy 2" asked for her to get him dressed and said, "I don't want "Nanny", I want you."
I have a day to resolve this issue. I don't want to lose the nanny. I get to work at home about 2 or 3 days a month, but the soonest day I can work from home would be Wednesday. Husband cannot miss any work. Mil claims that she doesn't feel safe around Nanny. I am to the point where everything I say is angering my husband. He suggests I am choosing the nanny over his own mother. Mil informed me about an hour ago that she is the victim and not me, so it isn't up to me to decide anything. She suggested that perhaps she could go to the police department and get advice from them. I am wholly against that fearing what could arise from any sympathy MIL might gather from the police. Husband had been threatening all day to put an ad in the NY Times for a new nanny. I have been able to hold him off but he reminds me that he could easily put an ad on Craig's list and get a hundred responses.
To complicate matters, I have a good acquaintances in the neighborhood with a child the same age as boy#2. Nanny watches her child on Monday afternoon from 12-5 along with mine. She is another person that I could run this by in hopes she would join me in supporting the nanny, but there is always the chance that she too could be tripped up with sympathy for mil. (Despite what I have told you about MIL, she has a very smooth, fake facade that fools many people. The nanny, is as I have told you, not overly friendly with other people. She is a bit of an introvert. Any people I share this situation with could be quick to judge the nanny based one their own negative perceptions of nannies in general.
I'm stuck. What can I do? If wind of this gets to the Nanny, she will surely leave me high and dry. Even before I knew this, on Thursday I wondered if MIL could cause her to not return after the weekend.
Peaceful resolution? Is it possible? If you've read this far, thank you. If you have any productive advice, please share.