If you know me well, you do. It happened Wednesday, July 12, 2006
A montage of memories.
My ex-charge left a message on my cell phone 2 days ago.
It was so great to hear her sweet 7-year-old voice. She sounded so grown up. Was she always that mature?
It has already been one month since I said goodbye and yet if feels like yesterday. I called her back a few hours later and as soon as she heard my voice she let out squeals and pants and cries. I couldn't get a word in edge-wise. Then she started whining and complaining about not seeing me, telling me how sad she was and how I had to call her mother and make a trip out to the Hamptons to visit them. This is all after I said Hi and before I said anything else.
It was sad to hear her lovely, but tear-filled voice, we spoke for about 3 minutes before she calmed down and I reassured her that I would make a trip out to see them. As I spoke to her I kept thinking about how little she was when I met her. She was asleep in her crib, surrounded by 5 or 6 pacifiers, wearing a diaper and not much else.
She was so cute.
I remember when I picked her up she felt so light in my arms. Her little blue eyes peering out at me with suspicion from behind her blond, page-boy styled hair. I fell in love with her almost instantly.
It was love at first sight.
For 5 years, we spent 5 out of every 7 days together. I taught her to use the potty and climbed into the pool with her swim coach once a week, holding her in my arms while he taught me how to teach her to swim. I watched proudly as she learnt to stand on her tippy-toes in ballet class and beat the drums at Diller Quaille school of music. I squealed with delight as she demonstrated to me how her parents had taught her to eat with chopsticks. I sat in the waiting room for hours at her pre-school, just in case she might need me, sympathized with her mother when her first days of kindergarten were hard, made her lunch while teaching her to color inside the lines and made sure I always carried band-aids in my bag for those unexpected tumbles in the playground. I made myself busy while her mom read her book after book, making sure to give them the privacy they needed, looked on, watching their dynamic and learning as they baked chocolate-chip cookies together.
A week before I left, I taught her how to ride a two-wheel bike without so much as a scratch on her knee. Those days passed so fast and now they are only a montage of memories for me. I wonder where all that time went and why it went so fast. I remember looking at her and knowing time was flying by me and that every day was a new step for her and that if I didn't nurture every minute it would be lost. I never lost sight that I was being paid to make sure that this little girls every waking moment was something special. I always reminded myself that it was my job to teach her, to help mold her, to keep her safe to encourage her and luckily for me, her parents were an eager part of the process.
The first year I worked 35-hour weeks, then after my 3rd charge was born, for 3 years I worked 12 hour days, sometimes 65 hour weeks. No wonder it was exhausting.... but I didnt care. They were just so fabulous that it did not even feel like work.
Finally, as they grew and went to school and I got married, it whittled back down to 30-hour weeks. The one thing about nannying that I am grateful for, is the ability to know that time goes by so fast. So many parents don't realize that every passing day disappears and doesn't come back.
For me I know now, that when I have my own children I should enjoy every minute, because as I have noted will all the children I have taken care of, time moves quickly and they grow so fast. The first year I was a nanny, time stood still.
I was still in college in South Africa and I only had to work half days, but that first year was hard. I loved the kids, but it was a trying time. I was learning something new every day, but phew it was a difficult time. On the second batch of children, it was easier. Then the third, it was instinctual and even easier than the last. The more children I helped raise the easier it got, the more I learned, the more I grew. By the time I reached this last family, I was fluid and carefree.
Life was easy, potty training was a breeze, napping, sleep time, dinner ....Everything was easy, because I had done it so many times before with so many families.
I realize that this is how new parents must feel.
That first child is so new that everything seems overwhelming. For me, that was one of the best parts about being a nanny. Calming the parents, helping them learn, reminding them that time flies by in spite of us. While talking to the 7-year-old, I felt so fulfilled, knowing I had done my job.
She is polite, friendly, the perfect hostess and oh so delightful and creative.
Then I heard the little newly-4-year-old yelling in the background that it was her turn. When she eventually pulled the phone out of her sisters hands I heard a little bit of a fight and then this sweet, fresh voice started talking to me.
I almost cried.
This voice of the little baby I held in my arms 3 hours after her birth, this little voice belonging to the little angel I cradled in my arms and rocked to sleep while walking up and down Manhattan's West Side streets at 8pm. The little girl who never left my side for 4 years.
A beautiful cherub of a girl, with curls, sparkling white teeth and chubby cheeks.T he little girl who called me Weezie.
Talking to them was harder than I thought. While I know they want me back, I have to fight the urge to stay for another year, because it would be so easy for me to just go back and to never move forward with my own life. It is so enticing. They are intoxicating and lovely and perfect and their parents are fabulous. Going back full time would be too easy, moving ahead is difficult.
But I like difficult.
I need a challenge.
I need a change!
Their mom left me a message today about visiting them in the next week or so, and I will, but not so soon.
I have things to do in the city and then I will call and make a date to visit.
I can't wait...but I must.
I have to remember to put my needs first.
When it comes to them, it is a hard habit to break.