By Feature Writer Rebecca Nelson Lubin
guest I met Sierra in 1997 when I arrived for my meet the children interview for what was to be my first full time Nanning job. She was four years old, with blond hair cut short like a boy’s, huge brown eyes and a tiny little body barely grown beyond the perfect roundness of toddlerhood. She lived with her sister Willow, a lanky five-year-old with equally huge brown eyes, and her dad Jim, who was raising them alone after a divorce. Being a transplanted New Yorker, I couldn’t quite grasp the concept of a Single Dad, but hey, this was San Francisco. Things were different out west, even though I was quite certain that had my dad been left to raise me alone in the 70’s, he would have surely lost me before a week went by.

My first day with Sierra was a bust. I should have been warned that she was a Scorpio with a spirit filled with pure fire, but I might have declined the position had I known what was in store for me. I managed to get her out of her pajamas after breakfast, but could not convince her to get dressed for preschool. For three hours I pleaded and cajoled and sweated that I would be let go on my very first day of being a full time Nanny while she sat and screamed at me in defiance, clad only in GAP extra small purple checkered underwear, occasionally standing up to yell “Go Away!” and whack her head against her armoire doors in anger. She soon had a large red welt on her defiant little forehead.

Jim poked his head in the doorway of her room and smiled.

“Don’t worry,” he said, “you’re being tested.”

I was indeed. But I held my ground – for weeks – and Sierra evened out eventually when she saw I wasn’t going to cave. We grew very close very quickly. I would arrive at her house at 6:45 each morning and tiptoe upstairs to find her and her sister curled up with their dad in his bed, the three of them all sleepy with messy hair. He would carry them to the breakfast table where Sierra would promptly hide her vitamins under her napkin and Jim would read to the girls from the New York Times while they munched on orange slices and competed on who would feed him his pills. I learned slowly over those first weeks that Jim, aged 58, suffered from a heart condition. He had had a heart attack a few years back and confided in me during my first weeks that he feared he would not be around long enough to walk his girls down the aisle at their weddings, but he hoped to at least see them thorough college graduation. I quickly grew devoted to the three of them.
Rebecca Nelson Lubin is a writer and Nanny who resides in the San Francisco Bay Area. You may read more of her articles at



TheOriginalDenverNanny said...

Wow, Rebecca-- what a beautiful, well-written post! Thank you for being a devoted and caring nanny and friend. I wish all nannies and families could experience such a powerful connection :-)

rte66nanny said...

Thank you, Rebecca.

I had a rough day yesterday, my "trial" with a potential new family, and your description of your first day with Sierra reminded me that most nanny jobs start off ridiculously hard, and then hopefully turn into something spectacular.

So thank you, for reminding me that it's only up from here.

A nanny who cares said...

That is a very beautiful story Rebecca! It made me cry and wish that when I lost my dad, in the summer between 8th grade and freshmen year, that I had someone like you in my life. As a nanny I hope I can provide that kind of comfort to one of my charges if need be. You are an amazing nanny and writer. Thank you for sharing your story!

Jane Doe said...

I was reduced to tears multiple times. What a beautiful, but heart wrenching story. Thank you for sharing that with us.

Psyber Chica said...

Thank you for sharing. I lost my husband when our girls were 5 &6. I miss him more for them than I do for me. It has occurred to me that his death is easier at this age than if they had been teenagers. I cannot imagine trying to help that age through this tragedy, what a blessing you are to those girls.

sierra said...

You have helped me through the hardest times in my life more than anyone else in the world. You are truly more than just my old nanny, you are my best friend, my mom, and the one person I know I can always rely on. Thank you for being who you have been for me.. I wouldn't be the same person without you.

Glow said...

What a beautiful story, what a special woman. Thank you.

Marypoppin'pills said...

I echo every word Jane and the others have said... job well done, Rebecca!


I wish I could find a family like this

grateful mom said...

Thank you for this touching story. Makes me want to wake my little boys up and give them a big hug. A great reminder in how short our time can be... Sierra is indeed a lucky young lady to have had you in her life. Thanks again.