By Feature Writer Rebecca Nelson Lubin
I know all us Nannies have those employer horror stories, the stay at home moms with nothing to do all day but lunch, have their nails done and criticize our work, and believe me, I have had many of those myself. There was the Mom who dressed all day in tennis whites, was rude to her husband and kids and abruptly fired me two days before my sinus surgery my sophomore year of college because I could not come in early enough to accommodate her doubles game. (I was only home because I was, uh, having surgery and besides, my mother hadn’t really approved on me working while I was sick.) Then there was the Mom who told me that when I held her baby it really bothered her if I nuzzled or kissed the two month old because it was like I was “kissing her” and she was seriously concerned that I was coveting her children. I was initially speechless, but recovered my composure and asked her if she understood the biblical definition of “coveting.” She did not. She had no idea that she had gravely insulted me, and offered no apology, and honestly did not feel that affection towards the children you care for was an important part of being a Nanny. Another Mom never once smiled at me – something I should have taken into consideration during my job interview – and the three months of scowls sank me into an all time low until I finally gave my notice. Yet another Mom met my attempts at friendly conversation with nothing short of eye rolls of contempt – how dare I think I was cool enough for her to consider me a friend! This one also didn’t believe in benefits of any kind, paid vacation days, paid holidays, paid sick days or time paid while they went away on their own vacations during the two years I worked for them full time. I got away from that job, and still felt guilty when I left, but I least I had paid health insurance again. The new Mom was better, friendlier, and sweet and trusting that I could do no wrong with her children, but nothing beats the boss I have now. Because my Boss is my Wife.
You might think that sounds strange, or downright wrong, but let me explain. There is no other word to describe the relationship I have with Chris. We are so mutually supportive of each other, beyond the employee – employer relationship. We spend our days coordinating, collaborating and commiserating from the same corner of respect. And yes, I know every nanny loves being supported and recognized for their hard work, and how that usually comes around maybe once or twice a year in the form of a cute card on their birthday or some scant Christmas bonus and re-gifted wrong sized sweater. But Chris lets me know important I am to her everyday. She makes a point to tell me, and to thank me, and even more importantly, she always finds a way to show me. From a simple, “you’re the best wife ever” to all those unexpected bonuses that come in the forms of gift certificates and yummy spa treatments, I feel totally valued. And I value her right back.
Beyond that, Chris is supportive of every aspect of my life. In 2008 when my boyfriend dumped me – on the phone while I was at work – and told me not to come home that evening (we had been living together for two years but it was his house)Chris came home immediately, told me to move into their guesthouse at once, and even offered to pony up a deposit for a new place should I find something right away. And all of this was before I had managed to even stop crying. As it was I stayed there for six months before moving into my dream house. Not only did she refuse to accept rent while I stayed there, but she insisted on gifting me with professional movers when the time came to pack up. Thank God as the majority of my stuff was still in my ex’s basement!
When Chris was pregnant with her third child – the girl baby – she bought me a beautiful blue ring that she had caught me admiring in our favorite boutique. She told me that it was my “baby ring”, my “push present” because the child growing inside her was going to be my baby too. Words cannot describe how deeply moved I was. I feel that way whenever she describes her children as “ours”.
“Betta is Mommy number two,” she will say to the three year old.
Now I wish I could and say that I am the only woman that Chris treats with this degree of respect and love and support, but that’s simply not the case. She has started an entire “Wife” movement, urging all her fellow female friends to treat their female friends as trusted and valued spouses who will always have each other’s backs. She has started her own website called http://www.abandofwives.ning.com/ which is the future of supported sisterhood. (Almost two thousand wives strong!) She tirelessly blogs and campaigns for causes for women and I would like to think that I am a huge part of the support system that allows her to do such amazing work, for just as much as she is my wife, I am hers, and really, don’t we all need a Wife?