Saturday, January 26, 2013

Nannies Vs. Husbands

Whenever I bring up having another kid, everyone looks at me like I am crazy. (Well, we know that I am crazy, so why are they surprised?)  The comment is that I should have a husband first. 

I know something about husbands. I have had two of them. I know something about babies. I have had two of them, too.

Aside: When people find out I have been married twice and have two kids, they always ask if they have the same father. This irritates me.  They do, for the record, but why is this the burning question? So what if they didn't? Does that make me a whore? If I was married to two guys, we can assume I had sex with two men. Children could result from having sex.  If I adopted two kids it would be safe to assume they had different fathers, given all probability, and that would be fine.  I don't think they are just curious about logistics and parenting schedules; I think they are looking for a way to feel superior. But then, it has been said that I am too sensitive.  

Back to the topic. Having a husband is not a guarantee of having help or support in raising kids.  Know what is?  A nanny.

You pick out a nanny based on how they treat your kids, and how well they follow instruction. If you tell the nanny to go wash the baby, they go wash the baby.  They don't piss and moan. If you tell the nanny to do the dishes when the baby naps, they wash the dishes. The nanny does what you tell them to do and doesn't back talk. If the nanny doesn't like your parenting style, the nanny leaves.  This is sad, but there is no nanny divorce court you have to go through.

I have had the good fortune to have had an excellent nanny. (Not the live-in kind. That would have been Heaven.) I found her on In our interview, I noted she had a nose piercing, a cat with a crumpled ear, and lots and lots of toys nicely put away in her living room.

A normal person would have interviewed a nanny at their own house, seeing as that is where the person would be watching your kids, and they might need to know how to find your house, where to park, and where you keep the toilet paper. Oh, and they might meet your kids first. 

For some reason, I felt I would learn more about her if I saw her house and met her kid. (Her kid was sleeping during the interview, so that was a fail.)  I don't think I asked particularly brilliant questions. I remember some discussion about religion (She's Hindu, I'm Unitarian, at least on paper) and about why we didn't plan to homeschool but admired people who did.  

You know why I hired her? 

She had a cat with a crumpled ear.  A mean cat with a crumpled ear.  Anyone that could go to the pound and decide the crumpled-ear cat was the one they couldn't live without was the person for me.

I did call her references, and I did run a background check. I am not entirely stupid.  Basically, though, I went on instinct.

She was amazing.  She parented my kids the way I would have.  For example, on the first day she took them to a playground, but she selected a fenced in playground so they couldn't escape.  Not knowing my kids, this was wise. Tiny Pants, just two at the time, came home with a red mark on his eye from walking around with a stick. (The white part of his eye, not the lid, for your visual reference.)

We had some sort of conversation like this:

Nanny:  "I just wanted to let you know that Tiny Pants has a red mark on his eye because he was walking around the play ground with a stick."

Me: "OK, well, I would totally let him walk around with a stick. Explore nature and all that."

Some might think this was a bad start, but it wasn't. I do want my kids to climb trees and experience the world with their hands.  If they are going to get injured, I'd rather it be the kind of injury they'd get with me.  Not like chemical burn from washing the floor on their bare knees or something bizarre but well-intentioned. If you read my blog, you know that a cleaning-induced injury is highly unlikely to occur on my watch. Poking eyeballs with a stick is.

Nanny became like family. She saw me on the days I could barely pull it together to go to work, and she'd do nice things like the dishes. Once she cleaned my microwave as a surprise.  My kids love her.  She is still the only one they don't hissy-ize about if I leave them while they are awake.

Sidenote: I normally sneak out and leave them with a sitter only after they are asleep. It reduces the stress level for the whole family.

Beloved Nanny moved away, so I found a college girl. She did not own a cat with any deformations. She seemed nice.  She was willing to drive all over hell's half acre to pick up the kids from various schools.  She asked me big-sister type advice questions.  I caught her rummaging through my dresser drawers. 

After that, Nanny moved back (thank God) and stayed back for a very long time. A few years of blissful co-parenting one or two days a week.  Sometimes I'd come home and she'd have that same crazy-eyed look I get, but she'd always smile.  She never threw things at my head when I came home, even though some days I'm sure she'd have liked to.  Once I went to a hockey game, and my son got a bloody nose, then her son puked on the bed.  She came back.  I don't think I could have been that strong.

Sadly, Nanny the Beloved got a full time job.  I have gotten to watch her kid a few times, in a role reversal.  This actually causes me a little stress.  I am not sure I can nanny as well as she did, but the kids miss each other, and I do enjoy it.  I would totally be a nanny if I could choose the kids and the parents. 

Now husbands?  Haven't had so much luck there.  Here's a secret I'll share with all the internet who might happen to randomly stumble on my blog and is miraculously still reading:  I suck at compromise.  I have really zero interest in it.

The father of my boys and I had a few major parenting disagreements.  One was on letting the baby cry, and one was on how to diaper the baby. I had one way to solve all parenting debates; you don't bitch, and I will do all the work.  I went to my ex and said, "Here's my plan. I will do every single night feeding/comforting.  You don't argue with my parenting choices."  He agreed.  Who wouldn't?  But that attitude- the my way is the only way attitude - is not fine co-parenting.  Apparently it's not so great as a relationship strategy either.

I don't regret that decision, I just realize that if you are going to refuse to compromise a nanny is a better option than a husband.

So that leads us back to babies.  I'd totally have another baby, like yesterday.  Babies are sweet and snuggly. I don't mind their poop. I don't mind their crying. I'm not a baby person per se…in general I'm not down with OPC (Other People's Children) but I do really like my own.

But….babies become toddlers. Toddlers become teenagers. That cute snuggly baby is another person you are responsible for for life.  I'd totally have another baby if they went to college at 3, but the long haul is…well, long.  (Eloquent, aren't I?)  I'm not sure I have that in me.

If I decide I do, I will beg borrow and steal to get Beloved Nanny back!


  1. So glad you didn't fire me that first day with the stick incident and we had many more years together! haha. We love you guys!!

  2. You are hilarious! Just wanted you to know I've spent an hour of my very limited time reading your blog. I have two girls & need to hire a nanny so this article caught my eye. Although my husband is amazing and works really hard, he's on 100% commission (not much at the moment) and I make quite a bit (at the moment) so it's annoying that he won't just watch his own children and I have to pay someone instead, but such is life! Nannies "don't piss and moan" as you say, so... there's that. Hope I can find someone like your Beloved Nanny!


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