So your daughter loves her nanny, so what?

Delphina Labedan
I don't know what to do about this situation! I am the nanny for three children, two of them are 12 & 15. They don't need me for much. My job is principally to take care of the three year old girl.

When the other children were younger, their mom spent more time with them, but Mom is now in a very tough spot at work and has no time for her 3 year old (or herself).

Last week, they went away for a family vacation, the first since I have been here. It was only a long weekend. The second day, a Saturday, the teenage girl called me and asked me to talk to the 3 year old because "she is crying for you and Mom doesn't know how to make her stop". She came on the phone and cried, "I want you" 20 times. I distracted her, told her a funny story and made plans to make a fort when I saw her again on Tuesday. The conversation ended on a positive note.

The next night Sunday, I got a text from the mom saying "X is having a hard time without you, will you call her at bed time?". I did. The father answered, acted bothered by me and then got the little girl. The mom came on the phone at the end and said, "thank you, but she actually calmed down earlier." I said to call me if there was any thing I could do or anything I needed and she thanked me.

On Monday night I got a text from the mother saying she wasn't going in Tuesday, she was going to spend some time with the three year old, but I should still come and take care of the older kid's meals and driving.  Just to insert this here, I had no problem with any of this. A mom spending time with her child is good in my book.

On Tuesday the mom slept late, so the 3 year old came out to me and stuck with me. She was super happy to see me. The mother rolled out of bed at 10:30 and called out for her daughter. At that time, we were on the floor in the family room playing with dolls. She looked at me and said, "What are you doing?" I expressed that I was confused. She told me, "I took this day off specifically to have a day off with her." I started to explain she came out originally for breakfast. I apologized (although I wasn;t sure for what) and said -Older Son- didn't need to be picked up until noon. She said to me, "Could you just, GO NOW!", I kept my cool and said, "of course." I had to use the bathroom but I grabbed the keys and headed right to the door, the three year old followed and kept saying she was going with me. I told her she got to have a fun day with her mom. Mom was standing right there. The little girl was crying, "I don't want to, I just want you".

The mom is glaring at me. I felt so uncomfortable. I literally had to unpry the little girl's hands off of me and push her  a little so I could shut the door behind me. I heard her banging on the door and crying immediately. I left and went and waited at the gym for the son to be ready. I took him home and the mom and 3 year old were fortunately gone.

I went about my business as usual. At 5:00, I got a text from the Mom saying she would be home in twenty minutes and that I should let the kids now, but could go ahead and leave. She texted "Don't worry tomorrow will be a regular day".

The next morning the mom was nice, but cold to me. I felt like I couldn't engage the three year old how I normally wanted. I didn't want to read to her or hold her or anything until her mom left. I kept telling her to go play and busied myself chopping vegetables.

So here is my question. No one in this scene is a bad person. The mom is actually usually very nice. The two teens are polite and have been raised well. The husband is a nice guy and I'm a really good nanny. Right now, I feel like I am "in trouble" for loving this little one too much. It doesn't feel good to distance myself from her in anyway because I don't know what that does to her head. I want her to feel loved and secure by everyone in the family. I know she lover her mom very much, but her Mom has just played a different role so far in her young life.

Now that it's Friday, the Mom is back fully immersed in her job. Are there any tips you have that I can use to make the situation better? Like if Mom heard me tell her daughter to give her a kiss goodbye, that would probably be upsetting, but if the daughter did get that part of having this wonderful working mom was great hellos and goodbyes, isn't that a good thing?

In the past few days, I am back to myself with the little girl when Mom isn't around. The little girl has told me at least a hundred times that she loves me every day since coming back. I tell her I love her too, but now I feel like what if the Mom heard that?  I wouldn't want to work for anyone who didn't want me to love and dote on their child. I have no issues with the mom or need to outmom her. I would think that was painfully apparent.

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Jenna said...

I think it is awesome that the little girl has bonded with you - my little boys have bonded with my nanny too. They call for her at night sometimes and call me by her name. I am sure the mother you work for appreciates you like I appreciate my nanny.

That being said --- it is still REALLY hard to be a mother and have your child look to someone else for comfort. REALLY hard. I am sure the mother, like I deal with it the best we can, but it is a gut reaction sometimes to be sad or upset.

Overall, I am sure she is glad that the little girl has someone like you in her child's life, but just because something is great logically - that doesn't mean it doesn't feel weird emotionally. I would cut her some slack and just go about working how you have been.

NYC NANNY said...

I would try and make some activities just for mom.

I love my charge and she screams when I leave at night, and asks to come to my house on weekends and such. But when she says I love you, I always say I love you too, and so does mom and dad and ect...

We have certain things that are just ours like our trips to the library or our "coffee " dates, or to visit the covered bridges.

But stuff like breakfast dates at the diner or painting nails or pottery art studio - those are just mom and daughter activities. And this is by my choice.

I want mom to feel like she gets to do super fun super special things in weekends that differ from what I do during the week. So that my charge is super excited to spend time with both of us. And mom feels special too.

You have to put yourself in her shoes sometimes. It's hard having a nanny. And some people have to have one its not a luxury, and for some its heart wrenching.

I've been a nanny for 12+ years. But I know when. I have my own kids I will stay home. Because I know my personality and I know what I can handle. And what you've described would break me.

Hope that helps, you sound great at your job. Hang in there.

Ames said...

I love all my kids and charges, but I still maintain a boundary. It can be done. Mom is right to be upset. The way to fix that though is by spending time and giving the lo attention.

You're good at your job, but let the parents set the tone regarding affection. As a mom, you want to be your child's comforter/soother. It's wonderful that you love her, but you're not a guarantee in her life. You can quit and walk out any minute. Tough either way.

Anonymous said...

I had the same exact issue. I came in one day And the little girl ran up to me and just cuddled on me. The mom boss was very happy with how much she bonded with me- and would comment and compare it to previous care givers that were fired...until that morning. After that everything changed- the moms attitude towards me, new schedule and my new fear of having the child like me. It made me feel anxious about building a relationship with the child. It was a sad situation for everyone. For the kid, me and the mom.

It almost sounds as if your mb was okay with it though. Maybe db talked to her and made her feel guilty which is why her attitude changed. Maybe they were worried about inconviencing you on your off hours. It might be worth it to sit down and talk to your mb and db about it.

I agree with NYC Nanny. But now I don't think I could ever work for a family that has those issues... No ones happy. I no longer have patience for parents who act like leaving their kid with me is akin to leaving their child with a criminal. If they want to stay home then they need to find a way to make it happen. If they can't find a way they should take it out on the child or the nanny. Those parents only think about their happiness- not the child getting quality one on one attention that helps them grow.

this_nick said...

I couldn't work in a "don't love my kid too much" situation. If the person that spends the most time with your kid isn't supposed to show them abundant, unconditional love, look forward to the esteem issues that come for kids whose parents love them but have little time to show it and whose caregiver isn't permitted to show it.

Mike's wife said...

My girls love our nanny. Sometimes it bristles..but it is so worth it to me to deal with unintentionally hurt feelings...I know my nanny loves my kids and get to travel with my husband knowing my children are in good hands. If you can't appreciate when you have it good, your either insecure or subsconsciously self sabotaging yourself and your family. Woman up!