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My Daughter Loves the Nanny More Than Me

Photograph by Getty Images/Image Source

In the past three years, I’ve watched my daughter bond with her nanny; today their relationship is one of the great joys of my daughter’s life. All along I’ve supported them having a close relationship because I want my daughter to have a life filled with loving adults whom she trusts and relies upon. I never felt the desire to have her all to myself — to be her end-all, be-all. "There’s enough love to go around" is what I would say to myself when my daughter would cry over the weekend because she missed her nanny. It was a little harder to hold fast to my commitment to supporting their relationship when my daughter, on numerous occasions, called me by the nanny’s name. But I did, because loving attachments are good for kids.

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Truthfully, I didn’t feel that threatened at first. I thought, "I’m the mother — no one can replace me."

It also helped that I didn’t spend much time in the presence of my daughter and the nanny. When the nanny came to work, I usually bolted out the door to start my own work day, leaving them to their mutual admiration.

It’s easy not to feel threatened by something that you never see with your own eyes.

It’s a whole other thing to accompany the nanny on her way to pick up my daughter from day camp. It seemed like a great idea: I got off work early, so decided to meet up with the nanny. In my mind, it was supposed to be a delicious surprise that Mommy came to the end-of-the-day pick up.

I’d marched into the situation with an expectation that my daughter would express her love and enthusiasm for me. It’s not that I wanted it all for myself, but I did want at least a little.

In reality, my daughter acted like I wasn’t there. She was too busy shrieking the nanny’s name at the top of her lungs, practically choking from joy and excitement. From across a field packed with other campers, their parents and caregivers, my daughter ran at full speed toward her nanny, practically tackling her with the most gigantic bear hug I’d ever seen. It wasn’t that she didn’t see me — she’d already given me a limp little wave — a gesture reserved for people whose presence you tolerate, like a little brother or a pesky neighborhood boy.

What could I do? I watched silently as my daughter grabbed her nanny’s hand and dragged her over to the art wall to show off her projects from the day. My brave face cracked only when another mother placed a hand on my shoulder and asked, “Are you okay? That looked pretty brutal.”

It wasn’t exactly brutal, but it did hurt. I’d marched into the situation with an expectation that my daughter would express her love and enthusiasm for me. It’s not that I wanted it all for myself, but I did want at least a little. I’d settle for 25 percent of what she gave to her nanny.

Honestly, it’s a little harder now to support the love fest because I feel insecure. I’m not the fun nanny who swoops in 15 hours a week to set up play dates and find free story hours around town. I’m the mom, and it’s my job to teach her manners, self-discipline, gratitude, healthy habits. I’m not the one she wants to fly across the room and hug as if I was returning from a long journey overseas.

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I take consolation in the fact that I picked a great nanny who has brought tremendous joy to my daughter’s life. Oh, and I also take consolation in the fact that that long after the nanny has moved on to another family, I will still be the mom, and I will have a lifetime to earn that love and adulation from my daughter.

Image via Getty Images

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