Call Me Godmother

guest column
Last February my employers and I had a conversation where we kicked around the idea of making me the legal Godparent of their two youngest children. I had told them that while I had been the Godparent to several of my friend’s children in spirit, I had never been a formal Godparent in name, and I would be humbled to be offered such an honor. As the year rolled on we kicked around the idea from time to time, but it was not until my employers had to travel internationally in October for work, leaving their progeny at home in California with me, that they visited their lawyers and made it official. I spent October 1st, my first day as Guardian and Godparent of my beloved charges baking apple pies and carving pumpkins and basking in the glow of our new special status. Every little adorable sentence held a new special significance.

My Godson, I thought, as my almost five-year-old charge spoke whimsically of the irrational attitude of Angry Birds.

My Goddaughter, I thought, gazing adoringly at the little two year old snuggling down in her crib under her little pink blankie.

I’m a Godmother, I thought as I fell asleep, scooting over for more room, as both the 11 year old and the almost five year old had insisted on having a slumber party in the master bedroom with me under the pretext of missing their parents. I didn’t care. I was exhausted from a long day of carving and baking and play dates and household commotion. When I had arrived home with the pumpkins I had found Karena, our weekend Nanny, white as a sheet, standing on the kitchen island with her cell phone in one hand and a spatula in the other. She said that she had seen a rat and that it had run under the stove when she had screamed. I called pest control, but they had not found anything. I had had a sore throat all day too, and I been sneezing. Whatever. I was so happy to be a Godmother, and with that wonderful thought, I drifted off to sleep.

I awoke some hours later with two thoughts. One: It is the middle of the night, and two: I am going to throw up. I slipped out of bed and scurried to the bathroom and assumed the position. Again, two thoughts crossed my mind. One: Wow. This toilet is incredibly clean, and two: Holy Crap my employers are in Europe and I am sick! After, shaking and feeling mightily pitiful, I quietly walked downstairs for a cold glass of water and the forehead scan thermometer, which is the most accurate one in the house. As I slid it across my forehead, I heard a curious crunching sound coming from the pantry.


I jumped up onto the kitchen island with an extraordinary spryness for someone who had just emptied the entire contents of their stomach into the master bathroom commode, and again, two thoughts crossed my mind. One: this marble surface feels divine against my feverish forehead, and two: I must close the pantry door and trap that horrific rat. Does anyone remember the movie “Close Encounters Of The Third Kind”? Remember the scene where the aliens are trying to get into the house, and the Mom realizes that they are coming down the chimney and she steels herself as she grabs for the flue, and strengthens herself as she counts to three and then slams it shut? Yeah. It was exactly like that.

I made a mental to do list as I staggered back upstairs. Call the exterminator to come back. Cancel the play dates for Sunday. Call for back up, as I had seen my fever was 102 before I had dropped the thermometer in horror at the realization of the reality of the rat.

When I woke up the next morning it was even worse. My throat ached and the glands in my neck were beyond tender and my head spun with fever and my right leg felt curiously damp where my almost five-year-old Godson was curled around me.

“I think you might have had an accident.” I croaked.

“Oh brother!” he said.

As a Nanny, I knew how I would have handled this situation. I would have called in sick and then spent a lovely day semi conscious in my very own cozy bed while addictive TV like “Keeping up with the Kardashians” droned in the background while I drifted in and out of sleep until I recovered. I might have spent an entire day like that, perhaps even two. My housemates would make a Whole Foods run for me and fetch me soup and ginger ale. My employers would send me loving texts wishing me a speedy recovery. That is how I would have handled a sudden onslaught of flu, as a Nanny.

But I was a Godmother now, and two thoughts crossed my mind,

“Get up, your Godson needs a bath.” was the first.

“This is a huge responsibility.” Was the second.

I have often wondered where parents gathered the strength to conquer exhaustion, and overcome illness and transcend tribulation to do the best by their children. I had, at times, theorized that there must be a hormone that is released upon childbirth that makes parents stronger than usual, everyday childless adults.

I do know that upon being named Godmother, I gathered myself up out of my sickbed, bathed my Godson, changed the bedding, called the exterminator, threw out everything in the pantry and washed the shelves with bleach once the rat was gone, took the eleven year old to baseball (and dozed in the car) and did what needed to be done.

So call me Godmother. I’ve seriously earned the title.
Rebecca Nelson Lubin is a Nanny and writer who resides in the San Francisco Bay Area. To see more of her Articles visit


Ms. Vivienne LePeaux said...

I had, at times, theorized that there must be a hormone that is released upon childbirth that makes parents stronger than usual, everyday childless adults.

I can really relate to this sentiment. I currently have two children (teenagers now). I clearly remember, before I had kids, wondering how in the world parents did it.

One Saturday morning I was sleeping in late, feeling horribly ill, when I heard my neighbor's children playing outside. I thought, "how would I ever cope if those were MY children needing MY attention when I am feeling this sick? I would just want to kick them out of my room and stay in bed!".

But there are several factors that I didn't know to consider.

First, most parents start out with brand new infants, not older walking talking kids. They grow into being parents just as infants grow into being parented.

Second, you sort of have it right about the hormone thing, IMO. Especially for mothers. There is a lot to be said for the hormones released during pregnancy, childbirth, and lactation that alter you in a way that equips you for stepping up to the plate.

Before I had kids I never believed in any such thing as "love at first sight". But honestly, with both of my kids, the moment I laid eyes on them in the birthing room I was completely and helplessly in love with them in a way that transcends sore throats, fevers, and any other of life's difficulties.

Not that it's easy -- it's the most difficult thing I've ever done! -- but it is certainly possible to do right by your children in spite of the sacrifices required.

You sound like an awesome godmother, you will do just fine. :)

Nanny E said...

Great story, Rebecca. You are right, you've definitely earned that title. Also, hot picture! Sorry, my creeper bi side just came out a little bit! :p

Rebecca Lubin said...

Why Thank you Nanny E!!

LuvWhatIDo_ (formerly Wow) said...

I missed you, Rebecca! Great article!

MissMannah said...

As a rat-owner, I am preoccupied by your aversion. What happened with the rat? Did the exterminator ever come out? That part of the story made me so sad. :( Actually, don't tell me, I don't think I can bear to hear about the poor ratty being killed.

I know that was completely beside the point. The rest of your story was lovely and yes, you sound like you've definitely earned the title of Godmother. Maybe next you'll get your fairy wings.

Laura said...

Just FYI, "Godparent" is a spiritual title, typically used in Christian denominations to describe a sponsor for a child who is baptized. You cannot be a "legal" Godparent. Otherwise, nice article!

Rebecca Lubin said...

Actually Laura, I was raised Jewish and I had Godparents. They were my Aunt and Uncle, and like this situation with myself and my employers, named in my parent's will as the people who would raise me if something happened to my Mom and Dad while I was still a minor. We had an extremely close relationship, which was extra special because I knew that my parents had chosen them as my Godparents and I felt very secure with them in that role. The term Godparent is frequently used by people to describe the person that you have chosen to raise your children if something terrible happened to you. I am also aware of the spiritual side of the term, but again, being Jewish, I was not baptized, nor were the children I care for. My nieces, who are also Jewish, also have "Legal Godparents". It is not very uncommon.

Phoenix said...

Congrats on becoming a godparent! You see it isn't a hormone released it is a sense of love that makes you get up and get things done when you should be unable to move.

That was so funny about the rat! I was sick not too long ago and even though I had just thrown up I was able to jump a good 7 feet, bound over my couch, and leap onto my kitchen table at the horror of a grasshopper attacking my face. (I know not scary) Whatever! I hate them and they terrify me. Here I am standing on my table swinging a rolled up magazine while I have 5 cats jumping into the air and doing acrobatics only kitties are capable of with eyes as big as saucers, while my husband stood laughing at me! This was serious!!!! It is so funny what adrenaline will do to you. LOL

I also had a grasshopper wind up in my car. I'm driving along and I feel a thump on my leg. I slam on my breaks, jump out of my car and that thing is sitting on my seat. So I go to the other side and attack with body spray. I spray him and he jumps out and flys onto my windshield. I dive back into the car. Must avoid the wrath! I drive. He hangs on! I speed up. He braces himself. I stop and think. Oh windshield wippers, duh. Turn on...swish, swish he jumps onto them and he stares at me through the glass while hes riding my wipers. Swish, swish. Turn on faster! swishswish, shishwish, swishswish. Use the water. Spray....swishswishswish.

Fucker still stayed there. I called my husband to come out and shoo him off my car. He walked out of the house and the thing jumped away. I think it still watches for me. I hate them. Evil.

Too bad I don't time to tell you about the bee that came into my car while I was driving... remember Tommy Boy?

FamilyNanny said...

Spirital Godparent is great and congratulations. My friend and I don't share the same religious veiws but I'm her precious infant's Godmother. I've loved him since he was still in her but then I feel guilty cause I can't feel that way about my niece's expectant bundle of joy lol. Probably because I'm going to help raise one (spiritually) and literally raise the other.