Excuse me, while I write this, after downing 2 glasses of very cheap Sauvignon and handfuls of chocolate: it’s just something I need to write about. Today was a rough day, in a rough month. I sometimes take a step back and replay the day, viewing myself as the unbiased outsider. What is this grown woman doing, hurtling herself along the hallway, yelling after an already-yelling 4 year old? Why is this woman so upset by this 4 year old? What does this say about the woman?
Nannying. The quasi parenting role. The “pretend” parenting role play I found myself in, after a lifetime of crying “The children, the children. I must work with children!” . It’s the responsibility of taking care of, and cherishing, someone else’s heart and soul. Someone else’s lifeblood, their whole reason of being, is in your hands. Someone trusts you enough with the care of their most prized possessions: their children.
It’s been a challenging few years, since I decided to pursue this nannying thing full time. Sure, I’ve been in the field since very young: but I hadn’t consciously taken up the role of Career Nanny until after my stint with YWAM.
What’s it like being a nanny? I can’t say it’s like being a mother, since I have no experience in that role. I can’t say it’s like a primary school teacher, since I don’t have that under my belt either. There was this survey in one of my nanny support groups (yes. We have support groups.) titled “What Kind of Nanny Are You?” I’m the “Fun and Games Nanny”. That’s the one who would rather sit on the floor in the pile of toys than string together cardboard, or paint glass, or whatever Pinterest inspired genius the other crafty nannies do. I’m the one that lets the day happen, throws scheduling out the window. I also am the one who forgets diaper bags, runs late to pick ups because I was searching for said diaper bag, (which I find out was left on the back patio yesterday afternoon after an emergency diaper change during outside games–yes overnight when it rained). I’m not the greatest cook, and silently plead against requests to be the “Family Cook” (I’m convinced one job didn’t go so well because I was the family cook). I worry I’m doing it all wrong, that all the other nannies have some magical talent for organization and some much envied pep for a glue gun. In all of this worrying and doubt, I’ve made some discoveries.
Nannying. It’s…..waking up at 5AM every morning so you can make it on time to make breakfast for a family who would rather wake up to their mother. It’s breathing deeply the soft baby smell of someone who doesn’t share your blood and feeling the slow clenching of your heart. It’s the tender moments with a 3 year old in the sunlit afternoons, turning dirt over in our fingers and again the clench when innocence says “I love you Bekah. You me love too?” It’s the fleshing out of Love Unconditional. You, who did not come from me, who won no merit….who fights me……you that I choose to love beyond myself. And I…..I was nothing but a stranger and yet you took my face in pudgy hands and said “I love you”. I’ve had these moments time and again-it’s what makes it worth it all.
It is also the chaos of after school hunger strikes, supermarket meltdowns, iron willed warriors, food fights, infant diaper blowouts, broken dishes and toys–all in one day. It’s the tear streaked faces staring down your own tear streaked face. I’ve also had these moments–probably more so than the tender ones, lately.
Children have a way of stripping you of yourself. They take every crutch you lean on and find the weak spot-and not even knowingly. Children can fill you up so full of love your heart is bursting, and can teach you the simplest truths in a single sentence. They will also show you your darkest self: the one hiding in the corner of your heart. This has been the greatest blessing, and the most sobering of realities.
My patience is only so deep, my joy only so wide. I have found that pride of my own strengths with which I sauntered into nurseries, schools, interviews has been taken from me-time, and time, and time again. Children strip you, yes. Bare. Exposed. For this I am so amazingly grateful. Each time I have run out of myself-I see Jesus waiting for me to open to Him, and His supply. I am learning to be so dependent on His strength, His love, His patience, and the surrender to the truth that I have no love apart from Him. Oh God. This sounds so cringy. I wish I could say that my reactions and my answers were so Christianese all of the time. I wish I could tell you that today I did not stand by the window and swear under my breath in fury as the kids did exactly what I told them not to do for the enth time in a day. That I had to hold back every ounce of myself and close my eyes and breathe very deeply when the clashing of wills happened again today.
Nannying is a blessing: it has placed me, a flawed and desperately dependent vessel, in the lives of the most precious. To teach of Love, and how to be Love…..but really, I suspect, to learn of Love. God help us all.
Honestly though: I’m at my end. I think at the end of the end of myself. Sometimes, there is only so much to give….and i don’t know if I have anything left. I don’t even know if I want to have anything left. I think this nanny wants to throw in the nanny towel.