Back in December, I had a moment of panic.
By moment, I mean a month…and by panic, I mean a swirling pit of denial and anxiety and fear.
I wrote a post about my cousin needing to step down as my nanny and having to turn to daycare for my son before he was a year. My plan for him has always been to put him in some type of nursery school or preschool as early as possible—an environment where he’s cared for, but also learning something. My hope was that I would be able to avoid daycare until that time had come. And as I said in the post, I have nothing against daycare as a whole, it just wasn’t for me—for our family.
The weeks ticked by, and I reached out to coworkers and friends on what daycare centers they used—including speaking with and getting referrals from my brother’s girlfriend, a childcare worker who used to work in one—but never made a solid step toward finding a place, toward setting up a meeting. As Christmas was upon us, I remarked to a friend how fucked we were going to be when my cousin left for vacation for several weeks and then would start school immediately after. Time was running out. But I just couldn’t pull the trigger.
But a wonderful chain of events happened. My mom said something to my aunt over Christmastime. My aunt then said something to her stepson’s wife, a SAHM apparently looking for a way to make a little money that didn’t involve being away from her children before and after school.
Ta-da! This is the point where Joey and I walk onto center stage.
She called me before New Year’s Eve, I called back that weekend. I set up a time to bring Joey by her house the following weekend, we visited, and that was that. Rate of pay was easily agreed upon, hours were agreed upon, everything was perfect.
It’s been about a month now, and I could not be happier for a multitude of reasons.
First of all, she’s family. By marriage (my aunt’s marriage, and then again by my uncle’s son’s marriage), not by blood, but still family. And it’s not as if I didn’t know who she was. I guess she saw a lot of me as a child, less of me as an adult. I mean, hell, I see less of my aunt as an adult. But you know what I mean. When you get down to it, she’s more my aunt’s family than mine…so I would rarely ever see her. I had actually seen her last summer during my aunt’s pool party, and she hadn’t even known I was pregnant. Imagine her surprise when she saw me holding Joey! Likewise, when I was brainstorming a way to keep Joey out of daycare, she didn’t even come to mind.
Second, to bounce off of the above, it’s an amazing opportunity to get to know this part of my extended family better. Whereas before this I was maybe seeing them once every handful of years and hearing about them second-hand from my aunt, now I see them on a daily basis. I’m getting to know the kids better, I’m getting to know my…second-cousin (I think? by marriage? twice removed? can I just say uncle?) and his wife better. It’s just a wonderful result of having this opportunity.
Third, and possibly most importantly, I trust her. My cousin was younger—more “moldable,” so to speak. She didn’t have preset ideas of parenting in her head already, so she followed my lead when it came to caring for Joey. With this new nanny, her parenting style is so similar to mine that I don’t have to worry about him at all. I watched her with him during that initial visit to the house, how she let him explore but watched him very closely, and felt so at ease. We have at least one conversation a week where I mention something—be it our occasional cosleeping or that we are still room-sharing or my anxieties about other stuff—and her responses are empathetic and free of judgement. (Which isn’t to say anyone who has, does, or would have watched my son is Judgy McJudgerson, but—fellow parents, you know what I mean. Parents-to-be, you’ll know soon enough. #parentingwars)
I am so happy, so relieved, so grateful.
My mom said something to me shortly after the new nannyship began: “You’re so lucky you’ve got this support network of family to help you out.”
She’s right. I am so lucky. I’m so lucky to have one person paying full attention to my child at such a young age; I’m so lucky to be able to afford childcare (barely) that doesn’t suck up my entire paycheck; I’m so lucky to have someone in my family (albeit extended family) whom I trust to watch him, who has the same parenting views as me. I’m so lucky I don’t have to conform to the standard childcare hours because my husband and I work different shifts, or pay extra because my husband has an early doctor’s appointment in Boston or because my workday ran late.
And I mean…Joey loves his new nanny. He hardly napped the first few weeks there because he was so excited to explore his surroundings and get to know her. The youngest daughter (age 9, pictured above with Joey) is obsessed with him, and he with her! She comes home from school and avoids doing her homework (much to the exasperation of her mother) so they can play together. She even shares her old toys with him.
So…daycare. Eventually? Well, you can never say never. But anytime soon?