Last August, I wrote a post about our wonderful nanny and I gave some tips on how to hire your own (“We’re not Brangelina but we DO have a nanny“). Turns out I’m going to have to take my own advice as our nanny of four years gave her notice last week.
When “Lala” (what the boys call her) first told me that she was leaving, I was in shock. My mister and I had assumed — and had confirmed with her — that the plan was for her to stay with us until both Big and Little were in school. That meant that we wouldn’t be saying goodbye to her for at least two more years. But things change. Lala got engaged and she and her fiancée are planning to train to become foster parents. How can I complain about that? It’s fantastic and I’m happy for her. Really. Well, I am now, but it took me a week to get here.
Lala came to work for us when Big was only three months old. She was here with me when he had his first anaphylactic reaction to peanuts. In fact, she was the only other witness to that event; my mister wasn’t even here to see it firsthand. She was here for both boys’ first words, first steps, all of the firsts. Lala has been a huge part of our boys’ life and they are going to be very sad to see her go. She entertained, educated, and loved them for four years — all of their lives — and I will be forever grateful for that influence on them.
It’s not just the boys who will miss her, though. When I found out I was pregnant with Little, Lala was the second person (after my mister) to see the pregnancy test. She was our official birthday party photographer and she made gorgeous quilts for both boys on their second birthdays. Since I work from home, she’s seen me at my worst — unshowered, sick, angry about something with work, angry with my mister, stressed out, all the ins and outs of my life for the past four years. She’s been my sounding board and my co-parent, my friend and my assistant. Of course there have been bumps in the road, but that’s to be expected with someone with whom you spend forty hours a week. She’s been a huge part of my life, too, and she’s inextricably linked with my experience of being a mother.
I’m not proud of my reaction to her announcement. In my defense, I was home sick that day and had just dragged myself out of bed to make some toast. I was standing in the kitchen with my back to her when she told me, and I think I initially just slumped my shoulders, dropped my head, and muttered, “Fuck.” Then I recovered enough to say, “Well, okay then. Thanks for telling me.” Later on, I may have thrown out there, “Would it matter if we paid you more money . . .” which she answered with a sad shake of her head.
I panicked. I grabbed the boys and hugged them tight, having to reassure myself that I was still their mama and that would not change just because Lala was leaving
us them us. I told myself over and over, “These are my children. She can’t have them.” Irrational, I know, but that’s how I was feeling.
Then I got mad. I went upstairs and cried angry tears. I felt betrayed and rejected. If she really loved the boys, how could she leave? What about our agreement? I’ll admit I had some selfish and ugly feelings. Who would stay with the boys when my mister and I finally took our very first kid-free vacation? Guess that’s not going to happen now. What business does she have being a foster parent anyways? She’s not even married yet! On and on, the ugly thoughts rolled in.
Then I got maudlin, remembering all the cards and pictures and videos and crafts that the boys had made for me but that had undoubtedly been dreamed up and coached by Lala. Who would do that for me now? How would I break the news to the boys? Would they understand or would they feel the way that I do, that she had rejected
After the kids went to bed that night, I tried to explain to my mister what I was feeling. I cried all over again and he did his best to comfort me. He understood the amount of stress we were going to experience with having to hire a new nanny, but I wasn’t there yet. I was still feeling the loss and he didn’t really get that part. I tried to explain that it felt like a break up. It’s that same feeling of panic and loss and mourning over a way of life that was going to change, a feeling that once I got married, I thought I would never feel again. I was wrong.
For the rest of last week, I barely spoke to Lala. Of course we exchanged information about the boys and how the days were going, but nothing personal. I couldn’t talk with her about her decision because I was afraid I would cry again. The most I was able to squeak out by the end of the week was to ask her not to tell the boys yet; I wanted to have a plan in place before they found out and I wanted to be the one to tell them first. At ages two and four, Big and Little have no sense of time yet anyways, so I didn’t want them obsessing about her departure for longer than absolutely necessary.
It’s now been a week and Lala and I are back to normal but we still haven’t talked about all the things that need to be worked out. My mister and I have started looking for a replacement and while that’s difficult, it’s been a distraction from the harder stuff to come.
I still need to figure out how to say goodbye. And thank you. And I truly wish you all the best. And you will be a great foster parent; any child would be lucky to have you in their life for however long. And you will always be a part of our family and our boys’ childhood. And thank you again for helping us raise our boys thus far. We couldn’t have done it without you.