The only thing more confusing than being a mom is being a nanny who is constantly mistaken for a mom.
It’s not like people are throwing out a crazy guess when they think I’m the boys’ mom. I don’t wear a uniform (unless you count yoga pants and t-shirts of Jimi Hendrix and Justin Bieber), and the boys respond to me like a relative, not a nanny.
The biggest stamp of approval I’ve received isn’t from strangers at the bookstore or the library but from Dr. Jana, the pediatrician. Little Bear is just 15-months-old but I’ve taken him to the doctors more times than I can count, our most recent visit last week. LB had a fever which lasted most of the weekend. That Monday I took him to the doctor. Two days later we were back for more bloodwork and a diagnosed case of roseola (which thankfully he didn’t pass to the nanny). Wait, can adults get roseola? These are the things I need to know- that I never thought back in college that I’d ever need to know.
Dr. Jana is the spunkiest woman I’ve ever met. She talks to you like an adult who doesn’t have a medical degree and not like a dumb parent that should have a medical degree. Unless it’s a checkup or something serious, I usually take the boys to the doctor by myself. I don’t mind. The doctor’s office is in the same neighborhood as my grandfather’s house. Although my grandfather passed away over two years ago I still feel attached to his neighborhood, the neighborhood where I would play as a child when my parents wanted a night out. I always drive through his neighbor with one or both boys and wave to his street and think about how when I worked at the newspaper he always read my articles and would leave me voicemails ending with “give em’ hell.” I miss you Yudel! I’m still giving “em’ hell.”
Little Bear is at the age where sitting or standing still is completely out of the question. He’s not quite running but when he starts, we all know we’ll be in trouble. How do you entertain a 15-month-old at the doctor’s office when you have to wait in a confined space for almost an hour? You dance with him, you spin his around and if he’s anything like LB, you pick him up and swing him upside down. That kid is destined to be a gymnast.
When I’m at the doctors I usually talk to Dr. Jana and give her the rundown as to why we are there. Once she examines the boys we call Mama Bear on speaker phone and give her the results. Last week was no different and when we got off the phone, she asked if I was in school. I get that question a lot. “Are you in school?” I get it, who else, if you look like me, would have a nanny gig if you weren’t still in school, especially if you’re studying childhood education or psychology. I told Dr. Jana that I was not, and I said I’m a writer (not sure what I meant by that) but she didn’t ask. The only thing she said meant the most to me. “You’re good with them (the boys), she said. “I meet a lot of nannies and you aren’t like them.” With that we talked about the book and movie the Nanny Diaries and she left and I drove LB and I through Starbucks.
“I meet a lot of nannies and you aren’t like them.” Sadly, I know exactly what she means. I use to think that it wasn’t obvious I was a nanny because of my lack of uniform but now I know it’s because of how I treat the boys, and how they treat me.
Another way for strangers to tell me that I’m not a normal nanny is by mentioning my age. A nurse at the doctor’s once, after I corrected her and told her I wasn’t the mom, said that I was a young nanny. “Young nanny” doesn’t need much of a translation either. It means I’m not the typical Miami nanny.
The problem with not being a typical Miami nanny or being a Miami mom is that I don’t fit into a category. The moms are usually always chatty with me until they hear I’m the nanny. From there most usually find a real mom to talk to and leave me with the boys. Every now and then I’ll meet a mom who hears I’m a nanny and wants to know if I babysit on the side. Then I get the few mothers with whom I exchange numbers with and text to meet at the park and Gymboree.
I might not fit in with the mothers, but I fit in even less with the nannies. When you’re a stay-at-home mom, a day-mom or a nanny in the Coral Gables, you usually run into each other at the same places. The only thing stranger than the stay-at-mom Gables moms who travel with their nannies are the nannies who have no motherly supervision and just do what they want. Those nannies are fun to watch, they genuinely just don’t give a fuck. They’ll text or talk on the phone while the child is directly next to them, looking around for something to do. They’ll force-feed their charges at the park while the nannies sit in a circle and chat like that gals of Sex and the City. Then there’s me, the nanny who is guilty of texting on the job (but never talking on the phone!) but who loves her day-boys and will follow them up and down the jungle gym.
Watching the nannies at the park, I think of Dr. Jana and the nurse and all the strangers who think I’m the mom and who are genuinely surprised to hear that I’m not. I use to be embarrassed to say I’m the nanny. I use to think that they’d look down on me or end the conversation. Now I embrace it. It’s fun to see people’s reaction when they hear I’m the nanny and they see how much the boys mean to me. As nice as it is to have downtime when Big Bear is at school or Little Bear is napping, I start to miss them. I miss Big Bear’s imagination and the way he makes Little Bear laugh. I miss Little Bear repeating (in his own words) what I’m saying and blowing me kisses.
I recognize that this is a strange blog entry, but my job is strange. I haven’t worked in an office in two years so I don’t have any watercooler gossip or drama. I am beyond lucky to work for a family with whom I’ve never had an issue in two years and who treat me as a family member, not the woman who comes and goes each day. They’ve bought me more lunches than I can count and hired a lawyer to defend me when I got a speeding ticket driving through a school zone when asked to come to work early one Monday morning. They trust me with their most prized posession and I try to honor that trust with love and protection towards their children.
Being a nanny is a lonely job. The children you watch all day aren’t yours and you can’t treat them as such. You can’t invite a girlfriend out to lunch and bring the baby along. You can’t call a babysitter when you have last minute errands that need to be completed. Yet the loneliest part about being a nanny is being a nanny who isn’t accept by the other nannies.
I might not be accepted into the circle of nannies at the park or the moms that travel in packs, but I am accepted by the two people who matter the most: A 3-and-a-half-year-old who calls me Rach and a 15-month old who follows me to the door each night when I head home. I’ll take their approval over anyone’s.