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.
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
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.
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.