The Mommy V/S Nanny Saga
The tease in my family is that my daughter has a mom and a surrogate mom. The nanny is the mother and well, I am the surrogate mom!
When I had my second one, like a lot of mom’s in Indian homes, I started my search for a nanny. I found an exceedingly efficient lady to care for my child. The jappha bai I employed aced the job of caring for my little one. She swaddled her beautifully, gave her the most soothing baths, burped her with expert strokes and did everything under the umbrella for her. But something bothered me. I realized that she had no affection for my child. No matter how minutely I looked, there was no flaw that I could find in her services. She was professional to the core. That, in a strange way that hurt me. I wanted her heart to pine like mine did if the baby cried. I guess a tad too much to ask. In due time the curtain on her presence in my home fell.
Exit old bai. Enter new didi (current nanny).
She had the vibes. Dressed in a pink and white salwar kameez, all the way from Darjeeling, she was timid and coy. Today has marked the fifteen month nanny-versary. She’s everything I could have asked for. Neat, well-mannered, polite and above all, she loves my daughter like her very own child. I guess she’s found her own daughters in mine. Yes, the two teenage girls whom she’s left behind in her village. The ones she sees once a year. Correspondingly, Baby I has a deep affection for her. She needs to cuddle with her didi at night. The nanny had made her way into Ruhaan’s heart too. Ruhaan always saves a spot for didi in his drawings of ‘My Family.’ My husband teases me that the baby resembles her ‘didi.’ Unarguably, I go through a range of emotions. None of them though, is envy. I know it may sound strange, but here’s why.
- The nanny at her job
It would be quite paradoxical if I said that I wanted my nanny to have a strong emotional bond with my daughter but not expect my daughter to be attached to her. Wasn’t that part of the nanny’s job description? To offer love and security to my child? So if my child is drawn towards the nanny for me it means that the nanny is doing her job well.
- Schedule mother-only-tasks
Being attached to the nanny does not mean Baby I is detached to me. Nor does it make me any lesser a mom. As a mother, it is my job to create boundaries around certain “mother-only-tasks.” These include our morning drives to my son’s school bus stop, the visits to the park on Sunday’s and the morning baths. These are the times I schedule to spend exclusively with her minus the nanny. I say schedule because with a full-time nanny on hand, spending time with your baby can become a choice.
- Abandoning the guilt
I am not a mom who is driven by guilt. I know what and how much I can accommodate in my day. I know where my priorities lie. So while I make it a point to be there for Baby I the best that I can, I have made my peace with the nanny doing the rest for me. But what I do ensure is that I have flexible working options so that I am there for my children when the need arises.
- Two is better than one
I’m still thinking this through but I’m beginning to conclude that a child can benefit from more than one caregiver. There is that much social interaction, exchange of thoughts and that much bigger a support system for the child. Besides children always evolve socially and emotionally. I will not put myself under pressure just because in her toddler hood my baby is exceedingly attached to the nanny.
- Kids can always tell
Kids eventually do distinguish between family and caregivers. My daughter may on several occasions show her preference towards her nanny, but that does not mean that she doesn’t know who mommy is. I am the mother and nothing can be replaced in that capacity.So as long as I am secure in my parenting, I think I have no need to fear my nanny.