My birthday was this past weekend. The first present I saw, after I woke up and headed to the kitchen, was a gorgeous Orchid, my favourite type of flower. The card read, “Dear Rebecca, Here’s wishing you a day that’s as special as you are…Happy Birthday!! We Love You! xoxo Aecel, Julius, Aji.”
Aecel is my children’s nanny. Julius is my nanny’s husband. Aji is their 10-year-old son. All three of them live under the same roof, with me, my son and my daughter. How did this come to be? I’ll get to that in a minute.
First, last week, Khloe Kardashian clapped back after being mommy-shamed, after a paparazzi photo of the Keeping Up with the Kardashians star (and, I think, single mom now) featured her daughter in a stroller with an “unidentified woman” following her, the same woman who has been seen in numerous photos. The “unidentified woman” is her nanny.
One troll commented, “Khloe acts like she can’t go anywhere without her nanny. Nanny is in every pic and place she goes. She can mother on her own, we all do it! What a joke. She literally can’t go to the market, a party, or lunch without her nanny. WTF?”
Yes, WTF! I also take my nanny with me on many, many excursions, including taking my son to school on a rainy days, so she could run him in as I wait in the car to drive her back home and going grocery shopping together, because, let’s be real, grocery shopping is fucking boring alone, and my nanny knows what my family likes to eat more than I do.
My nanny also came with her son to help celebrate my father’s 80th birthday party, and, yes, many, many weekends, I’ve taken my nanny’s son, along with my own son, to arcades, bowling, indoor mini-golfing. Together they have a great time. And if you nanny-shamers think that’s a “joke” that I can’t go anywhere without my nanny, then buckle up. Because my nanny is also my “glam squad,” my friend, stylist, therapist, cook, personal organizer, and, most importantly, part of my family. (In this article, I’ll refer to Aecel as our ‘nanny’ but we call her “Tita,” which means “Aunt” in the Philippines, so, yes, she really is like a relative!)
Khloe Kardashian shot back with, “I can go anywhere and everywhere with whom I choose to. I choose to treat everybody like family that is in my house. I choose to invite whoever wants to come to fun outings…and create memories together…”
Just like Khloe Kardashian, I choose to treat everybody who lives under my roof as family. After three years of my nanny living with us, and after a very painful and frustrating sponsorship experience, which cost thousands of dollars and hours of my life—I don’t usually get political, but boy was I mad when I found out Justin Trudeau had three nannies, while I was desperately trying to get one nanny I loved sponsored—finally, my nanny’s son and her husband were legally allowed to come to Canada. Yes, I invited them all to live with me.
My ex and ex-bonus children had just moved out, so my large finished basement sat empty. My nanny already had a bedroom downstairs, plus a private washroom, plus her own private entrance. Immediately, after they arrived, they realized quickly how expensive an apartment is in Toronto. My nanny told me about her searches and how expensive it was to get even a half-decent one-room apartment. My finished basement is larger than any of the places that were in their price range.
“Why don’t you just live here, so you can save up money?” I suggested, to which she seemed slightly uncomfortable, but then responded, “Really? You wouldn’t mind? You’d do that for us?” Of course I didn’t mind! Of course I’d do that for her! So we set her family up downstairs with a fridge, a microwave, and a dining room table.
I bought a bunk bed for her son, for the large empty room downstairs, and a large-screen television, and two couches. The bathroom they share is nicer than the one in my bedroom. More often than not, while my nanny’s husband is at work, the night shift, my nanny and her son eat with my children and me. In the days, she makes her husband dinners in the kitchen.
I don’t charge rent—she buys all the groceries and household supplies—and she gets paid, because, frankly, she’s the one person who I could really rely on to make my life, and my children’s lives, run smoothly and happily. Most importantly, she treats my son and daughter as if they were her own.
Who of us can really imagine what it’s really like to raise someone else’s children…while waiting four years to hug your own child? I certainly can’t. Could you imagine not giving your child a goodnight kiss, missing out on years of milestones, not cuddling with the baby that came out of you, all the while helping to raise someone else’s children?
I’ll be candid: She’s sort of my nanny too. She’s like a drug-sniffing dog, every morning finding my keys, the pants I want to wear, the bra that’s missing, getting my to-go coffee ready, packing me a snack. If it weren’t for her efficiency and knowing me so well, it would take me three hours to get my shit together to leave the house. I may have been crushed when it didn’t work out with my ex, but, I will be more crushed when she eventually leaves us.
When I have an event to go to, she is not only my stylist but my glam squad. She’ll straighten my hair. She’ll do my make up. She’ll tell me if she doesn’t like what I’m wearing. And I listen!
She’s the first person who I signed my latest book, Blissfully Blended Bullshit, to. Why? She was just as excited, if not more so, when the book arrived in the mail, taking pictures of me opening the box. My nanny is proud of me, like my best friends, and that’s a pretty good feeling.
Is it an ideal situation? Well, I’m assuming my nanny ideally wants her own place for her family, but, as for now, it’s a sure-fire way to save money for a place of their own. I think her family deserves that.
Now that my nanny, her son and husband have lived with us for more than a year, my daughter and son call Aji, my nanny’s son, their brother. My son truly believes that my nanny’s son is his brother, and why wouldn’t he? We are 100 percent comfortable, all living together.
There are a lot of people who believe that parents who have nannies worry that their children love their nannies more than the parents. Puh-lease. I will admit that my son, when it comes to eating or bathing, listens to his nanny more than he does to me. But do I feel less loved by my son? Nope! Not. One. Little. Bit.
In this article titled, I’m Jealous Of My Nanny: A Mom’s Honest Confession, they begin with a guilt-ridden mother. “I feel jealous that they do fun things together while I’m the one who forces Kate to eat the vegetables she hates. I make dinner, give her a bath, brush her teeth, and then she’s off to bed…”
Um, that’s called parenting. In my opinion, you shouldn’t feel guilty – feel relieved – and be happy that your kid IS doing fun things and being looked after, so you can work (mostly) guilt-free.
When I came home from the hospital after my daughter Rowan was born, it was Mimi, the nanny we hired before I gave birth, who was waiting at home to help me take care of my new bundle of joy. She took care of Rowan for three years. Whenever my daughter visits her birth town of Calgary, she always has a sleepover at Mimi’s. It’s a beautiful relationship they have kept up.
It’s also been incredibly helpful. It was my nanny’s husband who, when I was away, washed my car. Last week, they did the gardening, collecting dead bushes. Not because I asked, but because they wanted to contribute. It is my nanny’s husband who I ask to change lightbulbs, and who figured out what tap turns off the water when I needed a new washing machine. He managed to fix the wooden planters crumbling in my backyard (something I definitely couldn’t do!)
So, nanny-shamers. The majority of us (hopefully) treat our nannies, not as employees, but as a family too. And I’m not ashamed to admit that my nanny is so much more than a nanny, her family is also my family, and without her, I couldn’t be the mother I want to be.
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