Wednesday, June 27, 2012

On cheerios, nannies, and selfishness

Most days, like today, my son and I started out our morning reading the paper. Me with a cup of tea and the Living section, him with cheerios and the comics. Shortly after, I took him to story time at our local library. God help me, despite being a school teacher for four years, the act of group sing-song rhymes and hokey-pokey bores me to tears. Still, he enjoys it, and this is why we go. We headed to the park after but the heat was blazing and the shade trees sparse so we opted for Target where, in the toy section, we ran into two uniformed police officers wearing batman masks and speaking to each other in a deep baritone.

Entertaining, though somewhat awkward for all parties.

Today, in addition to meeting batman cops, I had another surprising moment when I realized: I'm a minority. At least in these parts. Not in the racial sense [though, yes, that too], but in the staying-at-home-mom sense. At story time, I was the only mother. Everyone else, a nanny. Same at the park. Even at Target, while I saw a handful of other mothers, I saw mostly nannies lugging babies in car seats and checking their lists.

When it happens in the sheer numbers it did today, I begin doubting myself. When I ask the lady next to me by the swings how old is she? And she pauses, crinkling her eyes, and scratching her head to remember the child's age-- its disconcerting; as if I'm the only one doing this. As though I'm strange to be home when a nanny could just as well shuttle him to story time and the park and apparently, even Target. I felt prehistoric.

The questions come with increasing frequency now. What day care is he in? What do you mean, he's not? You're still home with him? You're not back to work yet? He's not two months old, he's two. And this arrangement we have, apparently strikes some as strange. It's odd I guess to go to college, grad school, law school and choose to stay home folding laundry, planning dinners, and changing diapers.

I know I shouldn't let other people's values or opinions influence my own, and on most days they don't, but sometimes like today when you're the only mother in a sea of nannies you start questioning your choices. A nanny could read stories to him, play blocks with him, prepare egg and toast for breakfast. Does he need me at home when a really good nanny would achieve the same end?

Except the problem is, I love it. I feel lucky I can be home with him. I love watching him stomp about in his father's shoes and building towers of legos to topple moments later. I guess the thing is, maybe he would be just as adjusted and happy and exactly who he is if he was with a nanny all day while I worked. But then, I would miss being around for it. So really, ultimately, my decision to be home is truly about me, some could even say selfish. Because who else would I trade cheerios for cherries with over leisurely morning breakfasts?

17 comments:

Tracy said...

Love this. So often we make it about what's good for the kids (staying home vs. working) - but once in awhile it's nice to acknowledge that there's another side to the equation - that some days we're doing it for ourselves :)

katery said...

you are awesome for staying home. let's face it, nannies might be great and all, but they're not YOU, they're not mama. you want your son to form that bond with you, not with someone you hired to care for him. don't get me wrong, i don't think there's anything wrong with those who work outside the home, me being one of them (usually), but ultimately it's a personal choice and i think you have chosen what works best for you and your family.

Anonymous said...

The problem for me is that I don't know that they would be just as adjusted and happy. I don't think it would be easy for me to find a nanny that I can trust with my most valuable assets. I've done daycare before but full-time it was hard for my daughter.

jenicini said...

So, I was in NYC last week and was amazed at the amount of nannies at the park. I don't think I was the only mom, but certainly, my child was the only one with mommy, daddy, and auntie all running around with him (gotta <3 vacation). Thankfully in the area that I live there are a lot of stay-at-home moms, although most of them do not have a career and/or a ton of education like I do. Despite it, I wouldn't miss it for the world. I really love the deep bond we have which I think is stronger because of the amount of time we spend together. If I was at work during the day, I would regret it. While I'm sure he would fine, I would not!!!

Sunny said...

I can't imagine! That would disconcert me, too. Fortunately I am surrounded by SAHMs... there wasn't a single nanny at the library story time this morning. Not that that's bad, I do have working mom friends! But it's nice to know that there are other moms out there making the same choice I am making. I feel incredibly lucky to stay at home, and I thank my husband often for working so hard to support the family financially so I can do so. Sometimes I am not the mom I want to be... on my impatient days, a nanny would be an improvement! But overall, I think it's a benefit to my boys to have mom with them and caring for them as much as possible -- and like you said, I selfishly enjoy it!

Aisha said...

Tracy, thanks, you're right :) Sometimes its nice to simply acknowledge that you get a great deal out of the arrangement as your child does-- as much as the loss of paycheck is a sacrifice, I wouldn't rather be anywhere else at this point in time.

Kate, I always love how you focus on how its the best decision for our family, just as every family has a different dynamic that works best for them. That's exactly right. And that is a great reminder to me. Thanks.

Aisha said...

Anon, that's true, it would take a good nanny to be comfortable-- which is what all parents strive for, but I've seen first hand some good ones and some not so involved ones. Did you quit your job then to pull your child out of day care?

Jenicini, thanks so much for your own personal perspective, out of curiosity, when do you think you'll return to work? Or do you plan to?

Sunny, you're the embodiment of a mother who loves her job completely and has no regrets, I aspire to your level :) I had to laugh at your comment that some day you think they'd be better with a nanny on the impatient days, LOL Yes, I can relate to that for sure! I'm sure there are a ton of SAHM's here. I think I'm going to the wrong places perhaps, they must be out there.

Anonymous said...

Anon again (it's Rasha). I quit my job when we moved and I was expecting #2 anyways. I want to go back but don't now how/when.

sprogblogger said...

Just some food for thought: I don't know if this is true or if I'm passing along unsubstantiated rumors; but I heard once that little ones (but boys especially) benefit in the long term from having one female caregiver in early childhood--that it makes it easier for their adult selves to find one person to settle down and make a life with because they have that base of utter trust in 'one person is enough'.

I don't know how much I believe this, but in my moments of "Where's super-nanny when you want her?", I DO tell myself this over & over again: "I am helping to make sure that my son will make some lucky woman (or man) as happy someday as he and his father make me."

That said, there are entire days when the most stimulating conversation I have is with Rachel on Baby Signing Time. Ah well. The knack of adult interactions will come back to me someday? Yes? Please say yes...

katery said...

because it's absolutely true aisha, what works for one family may not work for another, but that doesn't make it wrong or bad, just different, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Aisha said...

Rasha, ah that makes sense, its hard to get back from what I hear but certainly easier when you have experience like you do, best of luck int he job search!

Susan, I love that. Thank you. I will remind myself of this on any of my doubtful days.

Kate, amen! :)

Aisha said...

C-- I saw a comment from you in my in-box but I dont' see it here. . . if you read this please try again, I'm stumped as to what happened. Hope your'e well!

Aisha said...

YM, I do have my own interests and hobbies and goals and if you think degrees shrivel up because a mother chooses to stay home with her children than you are misinformed. If you think I sit with him 24/7 or that he doesn't have friendships and play with other children than you are truly clueless. please don't diagnose or predict depression for me, and please don't judge my parenting choices. Do what you want with your someday children and I'll do what i want with mine. As usual your comments are not particularly appreciated and going forward I'm going to just delete them. After all these years I'm not sure why you still come by.

Aisha said...

also YM given our past, please don't download pictures of my child as my statcounter indicates has been done by you. We don't know each other and there is no reason to download his picture. Thanks.

Mina said...

You know how I feel about this already. And yes, it is very much about ME and how I feel about this - I choose to stay at home with my son because it makes ME happy. He goes to the crèche for 3 hs because he likes and needs company of children, which as foreigners is hard to provide unless in a sort of organized manner. Plus, he needs exposure to languages. But otherwise, I am very happy to be home for him. And will most probably be there for him a long time, since prospects of my employment are not sunny and the kindergarten/school schedule needs an adult who is not employed or especially employed for this (pick up at noon clashes with a 9-5 job). And I am not really bothered by this. At least not now... :-)
I am doing this for their good, so yes, it makes me happy. :-)

mezba said...

Wow, I didn't realize there were so many nannies in the US! Here in Canada it's mostly about day care - and grand parents!

fleur007 said...

I think you're such a wonderful, absolutely beautiful wife and mother mashAllah!

And, I really, really do believe that you being with your son is making a greater difference than you can even imagine!

The one critical thing that I think is missing from the nanny equation is LOVE, joy and prayers... Those add up and are worth more than their weight in gold! I just think a mother's love is unrivaled.

I hope inshAllah I will be able to stay home with my future children also. I believe that giving children love during these critical years will give them peace throughout the rest of their lives inshAllah. Hopefully I will enjoy it also like you too, inshAllah!

Love you sister!!! ~Kulsum

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