Y’all, I’m no Mila Kunis so you know what that means right?
Not only do I not get to wake up and
smell Ashton Kutcher’s morning breath, I also have to perform my duties as an
employer to my nanny. Yes, unlike the
former "That 70’s Show" stars, who have
foregone nannies because they want to “know” their daughter Wyatt, I have to be
a stranger to my kids because food and Hello Kitty stickers cost money. Thus, I go to work and a nanny watches my kids.
I’m now five years into my role as an employer to nannies,
and my resume is full of victories—like
all the times I’ve negotiated pay raises and vacation schedules, not to mention
the scores of little issues that come up each week. The hurdles come up, and I do my best to think of equitable solutions. I give
myself and my nanny extra gold stars for how we handled that time she left the
country for three months for her wedding and honeymoon. Oh, and her subsequent three-month
maternity leave nine months later.
None of these negotiations have been easy. I loathe confrontation. Whenever possible, I leave notes and write
texts because the face-to-face conversations make me break out in
shingles. The stakes feel impossibly
high. I’ve entrusted the care of my children to this woman—she’s the last
person on Earth I want to piss off. If
she asks for the stars, my impulse is figure out a way to pluck them out of the
sky and give them to her in a darling wicker basket with a bow I learned to
make on Pinterest.
Who wants to be the woman who tells her nanny she can’t be with her baby because she has to focus on my children?
Like today. She’s
preparing to resume working with us following her three-month maternity
leave. She’s asked to bring her baby
when she comes to work.
In theory, I want to say yes. Who wants to be the woman who
tells her nanny she can’t be with her baby because she has to focus on my children? Not me. It smacks of the same classism that Tina Fey
famously referred to in "Bossypants," when
she explained why she calls her nanny a “babysitter.” (Tina Fey: “I don’t like
the word ‘nanny.’ It gives me class anxiety and race anxiety.”) Also, I remember preparing to return to my
day job and leaving my new baby behind for the first time. It was a startling, overwhelming and
devastating transition. All of that
makes me want to give her a huge hug, woman-to-woman, and say, “Yes! Bring your
baby! Nurse whenever you want! Just keep my kids out of the street!”
But I can’t. My
primary job is to take care of my children. Part of that responsibility is
finding a nanny who will devote her attention and care to them when I can’t be
there. How can my nanny give my children
what they deserve—what I want them to have—when she’s also caring for her young daughter? I wouldn’t be able to wrangle a 4- and 5-year old in and out of
the car and back and forth to activities, while also attending to a 3-month-old. I want a nanny who has her hands
free. I want a nanny whose sole task is
to focus on my children and their needs. I want a nanny that comes without an infant
So there’s a hard conversation ahead for me today. A
face-to-face one. Despite my conflicted
feelings, I’m going to say I’m not comfortable with her bringing her baby to
work. Then, I’ll spend the rest of our
relationship trying not to feel guilty for asking her to put my family before