Yesterday was a bad day. Yes, it was a Monday, and Mondays traditionally kinda like to slap us around a bit. But at 8:30 am on a bright and sunny fall morning I was not prepared for my awesome nanny, the person who makes my daughter light up when she enters a room, the person who has rocked and walked and carried my most precious Jellybean for over a year – I was not prepared for her to quit.
I of course was busy doing 857 things; making a frittata for everyone for breakfast (because that’s just the kind of terrific employer I am), unloading the dishwasher, checking email, etc. She set down her son and said, ‘I need to talk to you about something’, and I figured it was just another reminder about one of the things I continually do wrong, or that she needed more time off to visit her Baby Daddy or something. No, she wanted to talk to me about how frustrated she was, and how the hours were no longer working out for her, and how she couldn’t continue making less than minimum wage. It was obvious that it wasn’t going to be a negotiation kind of talk; much like I tend to do, she had obviously been stewing about things for some time and had made up her mind.
Not that there was anything I could really say; I work 8:30-5:30, like 8,000,000 other people, and that couldn’t change. Despite the fact that most days I let her leave at 4:30 and struggled to finish my work with a frustrated Bean trying to get my attention, it wasn’t enough. Despite the fact that THOSE WERE HER CONTRACTED HOURS. Despite the fact that she was able to use whatever time she needed during the day for her own appointments and personal errands, long lunches with friends or shopping or going to her house and doing whatever needed to be done. Despite the fact she was averaging 8 weeks of vacation a year, plus any and all sick or personal days off she asked for.
And yes, the money was terrible, I’ve always been totally open about that, right from the very first interview. I am a single mom and I technically ran out of my nanny budget 3 months ago; I’ve used up my savings and have been putting groceries on credit cards just to keep her as long as possible. But I always made sure she had gas money, and paid for any memberships or lessons or activities she asked for, for both Jellybean AND her son. I paid for their breakfast, lunch, and snacks, which had a surprisingly large impact on my bills. I bought her son toys, and clothes, and was generous at birthdays and the holidays. And most of all, for three hours every afternoon while my baby slept, she was effectively paid to play with her own non-napping son. She was not responsible for any cleaning, or laundry, or any other chores. Ask me how happy I’ve been about taking out diapers for her baby for a year!
Ok, sorry about that, I get a little defensive when I think about it, and how she’s behaving now.
The contract we drew up states that we were to give each other a month’s notice, but she wants to go back to school, and the class she wants to enroll in starts in just under two weeks. TWO WEEKS. Yes, I could point to the contract, and did mention that, and her response was that the next class wasn’t for two months, and that she would stay if she had to but would be miserable. Well, thanks for that, I sure would love to have someone terribly unhappy caring for my child. And that is a lovely way to express your gratitude, especially since I had offered to write a nice letter of recommendation for whatever you do next.
So yesterday I was shaky, and weepy, and felt a huge loss, and tremendous guilt and I toured less-than-satisfactory daycares and spoke to unreliable home daycare providers and became even more despondent and had several raging headaches and couldn’t sleep last night.
Today I am angry.
I am angry because every single day, five days a week, for the past year, I have been extremely conscious about providing a good working environment for this person. I have continually overlooked lateness, and questionable behaviors, and a thousand other little things because I knew that regardless, she was taking great care of Jenny. I worked late at night and early in the morning to make sure the house was clean. The fridge and pantry were always stocked with foods she liked. I am a terrible boss at the best of times, but with her I thought carefully about every word that came out of my mouth, every action, because I knew it directly affected The Bean. And it wasn’t good enough for her. I feel betrayed, and disrespected, and resentful. And worse yet, I’m pretty sure she feels the same way.
But you know, I didn’t change the rules. I can’t help the fact that at 21 years of age, the grass is always greener somewhere else. And really, it’s probably better this way, because I was going to have to face letting her go when the creditors started calling, and that tough decision has been made for me. I think Jelly would likely thrive in a daycare environment; she’s sociable, and flexible, and happy to please, which are perfect characteristics for a likeable little Toddler Class enrollee. And if worse comes to worse, I’ve got a line on an in-home provider who could take Jenny right away, even though she isn’t sure yet if she’d like to do it permanently. Yes, there are still lots of worries; what am I going to do about night care when I have to travel next, and ugh, the thought of getting up an hour earlier and fighting traffic to do drop-offs and pickups. Letting go of the ridiculous guilt about not being able to afford another nanny, and the overwhelming sorrow at the thought of not having Jenny directly downstairs every day for me to run and kiss and nuzzle. The sadness of Jenny losing a brother, and a surrogate mother.
And yet… I get my house back. I get a realistic budget back. Jenny isn’t listening to a screamer all day long, someone who hits her when she tries to lovingly pat his head, or takes her toys and taunts her. I can stop running a half-empty dishwasher, and have the temperature set where I like it, and the furniture placed where I want it.
In spite of it all, it’s a member of the family saying good-bye, and it’s a sad, scary thing.
NOTE: Some of you know my soon-to-be ex-nanny. Some of you may, in fact, have an upcoming scheduled playdate with her later this week (so jealous!). If you see her, please do not say anything like, ‘OMG, I totally read all about everything on the internets!’. I may be upset, but I would not want to do anything to make nanny feel bad. Please continue with business as usual and respect her privacy. And have fun.
2 weeks ago