Here at E2S, our primary focus is encouraging moms who are already staying at home with their children. Our goal is never to attack or discourage working moms who happen to come across this blog. We realize, however, that there are readers who aren’t moms yet and haven’t decided what they’ll do when they have kids. This fall, we’ll be addressing some posts to that last group of readers.
Anna and I are stay-at-home moms not only for the positive reasons we’ve shared about our calling to be homemakers and moms, but also because we actively chose not to embrace other childcare situations. Before having children, I worked as a summer nanny and was a part-time nanny right up until having my son, and those experiences confirmed that I did not want to raise my kids the same way. We’re trying to be honest on this blog about the joys and struggles of the decision to stay home full-time with your children, but there are also struggles inherent in the decision not to stay home. In the interest of providing a big picture, here are some scenarios I’ve seen with a full-time nanny. Would any of these things bother you?:
- You can’t tell what your baby’s cries mean, and the nanny immediately identifies the problem and soothes the baby.
- When the nanny hands a calm baby to you, he starts crying, but stops as soon as you hand him back to her.
- At the doctor’s office, your pediatrician directs all of her questions on your child’s development to the nanny and not to you.
- When your child is sick with the stomach flu, he refuses to drink for you but will immediately drain a bottle for the nanny.
- When your child starts talking, you have to ask the nanny what your child is trying to say.
- Your nanny knows your child’s likes and dislikes better than you.
- Your nanny sees your child’s first steps, among other milestones that you’ve missed.
- Your child joyfully reaches for the nanny when she arrives in the morning and cries when you get home from work and the nanny leaves.
- Your toddler calls the nanny “Mommy.”
- When your child is not feeling well, she calls out for the nanny and not you.
- You start paying the nanny to stay through bedtime because she can put the preschooler to bed successfully in half the time it takes you.
- Your child obeys your nanny throughout the week but acts up constantly on the weekends while you’re home with her.
- You think your child will have the same caregiver until he starts school, but the nanny gets a new job or moves away, leaving your child feeling abandoned.
All of these scenarios are not hypotheticals—they’re just a brief list of actual experiences that a professional nanny friend and I came up with one evening when comparing notes. We agreed that while having a great nanny in the home sounds like the kindest, gentlest way to meet a child’s needs while mom works, it still means that the child is bonding more with the nanny than Mommy. As my friend commented, “A one year old doesn’t understand quality time over quantity.” It’s a simple matter of how many waking hours a child spends with his or her primary caregiver over the course of a week. Working moms often say that “anyone can give them a bottle or change a diaper.” If you subscribe to this sentiment, it logically follows that anyone can become your child’s main source of comfort and security. Especially in the early years, I’m loathe to give up that role to anyone else.