Babies come with a lot of extras; extra love, extra cuddles, extra blessings, extra giggles, extra bags to carry in and out of the car, extra poop! They also come with extra people! Yes. People. Well wishers, family, strangers (who want to smile at, and even touch your baby), and so on. But this post is about the help that some are fortunate to have. I am a working mom and I need someone to help me take care of my baby while I am away at work.
Choosing who that person will be is an ordeal in itself. Sometimes, if family is unavailable, you have to welcome complete strangers into your home. If you’re like me, you want to hire the best possible people to take care of your precious baby and you want to spare no expense in seeking out and hiring The One!
But that’s not the end of the story. No-one talks about what sometimes happens next. Maybe its guilt that ties our tongues, I don’t know. I do know that at some point, I got jealous that my nanny was getting to spend more time with my baby during her awake hours than I did. I only got to nurse her through the night, and she would be half asleep then anyways.
Soon of course, I started ‘seeing’ that my baby responded to my nanny more than she did to me. It was as though someone had literally kicked me in the stomach. It felt horrible. And I felt guilty for even feeling bad about it. “Shey i was the one that chose to work and leave my baby with another person?” So after a long day at work, I would come home and i would still insist on giving her a bath myself, feeding her, putting her to bed, and if time allowed, playing with her before she slept. Things i loved doing, now turned into things i was desperately doing. My nanny was good! And that is why my baby was responding well to her, and why I hired her. Yet, I was jealous. Didn’t i want a good nanny? I couldn’t possibly prefer a nanny that my child didn’t like…or could I? (I really did consider this lol).
Yes. That’s my ugly truth. But I’ve accepted it. I’m human. I’m flawed. But there is another underlying issue here. Women can’t seem eat our cake and have it. We want equality right? We want to go out and earn as much (or more) of a living as anyone else, we want to be ambitious and unfettered. Yet we want to remain relevant in our family and in our children’s lives and so we are under pressure not to fall short of our preconceived notions of how to be a mother especially when its caused by our efforts to pursue our other ambitions. I know that not only did i battle with my own insecurities, I also had to deal with the fear of others ‘noticing’ that my child seemed to like her nanny more than me, and labeling me a bad mother. So much internal conflict!! I was under a lot of pressure!
Fortunately for me, I have a wonderful support network that reminded me that my child will always be mine (I must have forgotten that). But that it was also important that I was seeking fulfillment in other things i cared about. I was doing what I needed to ensure I felt emotionally balanced and could thus be the best possible mom. But finally, I was also doing my best by my family (given the circumstances) by leaving her in trusted and extremely capable hands. And that made me an excellent mother.
It’s tough. For some reason women are constantly asked “if they can have it all?” – career and family, as though wanting both is being greedy. When really, it should be the norm and not the exception. While we try to fix the system for working moms, find and nurture your support network. They are extremely helpful through such times.
Photocredit: Bookcover – The Help by Kathryn Stockett