By Feature Writer Rebecca Nelson Lubin
This past weekend I went to Santa Barbara to represent for Parents Weekend for one of my favorite old charges, Sierra, who is sadly down one parent these days, having lost her Dad a little over two years ago. I was a little nervous as I set out for the airport, as I had worked for her Dad for about ten years, but for the first time ever would be staying with her Mom. It is an awkward situation at best, to be employed by only one of the parents of the children you provide care for, and feel a sense of loyalty towards that parent, as both your employer and your friend. Sierra’s Mom Gila and I were never able to forge a true friendship over the years, but I held her in the highest respect as the Mother of the children I cared for. I wondered, as I flew from San Francisco, how did she feel about me? Here I was, her ex-husband’s ex-employee, bonded with her daughter to the extent that she wanted me at her school for the weekend as a parent. Would she see me as some sort of usurper? The Other Woman? All these years I wanted nothing more to tell her that providing care and support for her girls was one of the most rewarding things I have done with my life, and that it was always done with her best interest in mind, although sometimes with deep feelings of guilt as while she was their Mother, there were times when I was the woman helping them into their pajamas and putting them to bed, because a judge had determined a joint custody agreement that decided when she could be the one bathing them and caring for them, and when she could not. I would have resented me.
But the wonderful thing about being bonded over beautiful children is that it gives you common ground, and a shared goal, for their goodness and their health and their growth. And I found that while Gila and I had never had the opportunity before to kick back and really talk, now that the chance was here, we grabbed it and found that we adored each other. Why should we not? The truth is that we have been part of the same family for over ten years now; we just never got around to hanging out together. For three days we talked, and laughed, cooked goat cheese lasagna, and reminisced about all of our shared history, and spoke fondly towards a future of support for her girls – and deeply for me – for her. Divorced or not, It can’t be easy to lose your co-parent when your children are young, and be left alone to guide them through the world. It has to be the world’s most difficult job. I hope that the knowledge that there is someone out there who has her back will make it easier for her. I now look forward to future weekends of goat cheese lasagna and chatting lightly over homework and helping her girls find their way in the world. It ain’t gonna be easy. It’s going to take a village…and then some, and their former Nanny is looking forward to being a member of that village.
Rebecca Nelson Lubin is a writer and Nanny who resides in the San Francisco Bay Area. You may read more of her articles at http://www.abandofwives.ning.com/