The Nanny Crisis

We have heard of the mid-life crisis, the quarter life crisis, recently in this blog “The Mum Crisis” and that brings me to The Nanny Crisis! What is it you might ask. I will do my best to define exactly what it was that happened and what it meant to me.

Being a Nanny is something I was excited about. Not that I wanted it to come too soon mind you. With two daughters, two step daughters and some other children I semi-raised along the way it was inevitable it would happen and I was excited about this new moko making his way into our lives. So the Nanny Crisis kind of hit me by surprise.

I had figured out what it was to find the new me when I became a “new mum”, a “working mum”. More new things emerged as I became the mum of school aged children. The new me developed even further when I became a “divorced mum”, a “step mum”, the mum of teenagers, “my girlfriends mum”, a “mother in law”. There are a range of labels and hats we learn to wear as our children progress through the years. I’d had to create an entirely new life as the nest became empty and I was a mum of adult children. So why on earth did I think it would be any different as I reached a new milestone and became a Nanny?

My Nanny Crisis started when I realized that the birth of my moko might happen while I was out of the country. What kind of Nanny isn’t there when her moko is born? Should I change my plans? This trip had been 4 years in the making. ALL the children had been told in 2015 that there were to be no weddings and no babies in 2019! They were well forewarned but it wasn’t making it any easier to accept that I was a “Bad Nanny” before he was even here.

That wasn’t what ended up happening and he was here 4 days before I left. But before I got to meet him the Nanny Crisis reared its head again. Colleagues and other Nannies started asking if I was going to be at the birth. I hadn’t necessarily thought I would be, but I hadn’t ruled it out. I had thought I would go along with what my daughter wanted but I wasn’t prepared for what it would feel like when I was told that they wanted this to be about their own little whanau. I was delighted at the fact that they were going to welcome our bundle of joy in such a loving way but I was also feeling some FOMO (fear of missing out – for you Nannies who are not up with the play).

Despite knowing that I would struggle to watch her in pain, feel emotional not being able to help her, or do it for her, or make the pain go away. Despite knowing that if I, or anyone else, was there that she would get caught up in their emotions and emulate or take on what they were feeling rather than focusing solely on what she had to do. Despite these things, hearing I wasn’t needed was initially a bit heart wrenching.

I don’t say that because it’s something I have held on to, or for anyone to feel any guilt. That feeling is long gone. It was what was best for my moko to be born swiftly and calmly into a world of aroha. It was a feeling at the time which caught me by surprise and made me aware of my Nanny Crisis.

My Nanny Crisis continued when I reached the maternity ward to meet my new moko. I knew what I’d expected to be as a Nanny, but I hadn’t anticipated what that would like in terms of arriving to find two new parents, totally in love and ultra-protective of their newborn pēpi. They were worn out after a long night and I sensed they would have preferred for their bubble to remain untouched for some time. I wanted to get to know my moko, knowing that I had a short 4 days before I wouldn’t see him again for 5 ½ weeks. My Nanny crisis was an internal struggle about what was best for the new whanau and my own selfish wants.

Once they got home and we were on our way to the airport I wanted those last cuddles which would sustain me during my time away. I did what I thought was right and cooked dinner and prepared to settle in for the night, only to find that this whānau wanted to be tough and learn how to do this on their own from the start. It stung a bit, but I also completely understood. This was their journey and I had to let go and make sure that they did this their way.

I wanted to be able to give and be everything all at once but realised this was not my job. I was beginning to realise that a Nanny needs to listen, step back and give support in different ways than you do when you are a mum to child who is not a mum. Being the mum of someone who is also a mum is new and different than before.

You’d think that now that you are both mum’s that this would strengthen the bond and that there would be new understandings of one another. There definitely are, but there are also some feelings of “yes it was like that when I was a new mum too” which are dismissed as being irrelevant. I know from my Nanny friends that this dismissiveness from their “daughters in law” cuts pretty deep. Those moments where there is more understanding and the bond is strengthened, are indescribably amazing though.

Surprisingly my Nanny crisis extended to my appearance. I have plenty of grey hair, which I try and keep under wraps by dying it frequently, I wear glasses, so that puts me in the Nanny category surely? But apparently I don’t look like a Nanny. I know I should be flattered because perhaps this means I am keeping the wrinkles at bay, or does it mean I don’t look like I have the qualifications, expertise and wisdom to be a Nanny? What should Nannies wear, what do they do, and how should they behave?

My Nanny Crisis eased when I was “finally” allowed the privilege of taking care of my moko on my own. I say finally because it seemed like forever, but the reality is he was only 2 ½ months old before I was allowed a few precious hours with him on my own. Of course that time came with a long list of instructions, emailed to me prior, and a very worried and slightly mistrustful Māmā who took her time to leave the house.

Those hours were bliss, we snuggled, and sang, followed all the instructions for feeding, changing, bathing, wrapping, sleeping and routines (except for the vegan bodywash, which was nowhere to be found until after the bath time was over). On her return Māmā was relaxed and happy, my moko was settled and I had passed the Nanny test. You aced this Nanny!

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