illustration by Jen Lemen, Mondo BeyondoHave you ever felt like there was a time when you really struggled to do something, and it was failing miserably for no apparent reason? Who hasn't, right?
For the past 3 weeks, I have been on a relentless search for a new babysitter, and in that time, my life (our life) has devolved into complete and utter chaos as my need for a nanny has gone on unfulfilled.
At first, my preference was to find a day care center, but it became clear after about, oh, thirty phone calls that this wasn't going to happen. With long waiting lists and minimum age requirements of 2.5 for centers I felt good about, there just was just not any availability. I was surprised to learn how many daycares use television - up to two hours a day. Definitely not cool with me.
So, I changed my search to looking for a nanny. I wrote to friends, talked with former babysitters (who are fortunately now our dear friends), and put the word out into our community. I wrote an ad and posted it on craigslist and on urbanmamas. I emailed about 50 people, heard back from about 15. I interviewed. I called. They rescheduled. It just hasn't been working.
Last night, in the long, long hours when I couldn't sleep, I wondered about this, and realized it's something I've experienced before - I try and try and try for something I feel I need and want, and just end up pouring energy and emotion into one dead end after another.
So I thought to myself:
OK, what if the thing you are saying you want is at odds with what your heart really wants? What is it, if not a simple babysitter, that our family needs? It's time to really pay attention to your heart, rather than your head.
To be honest, I don't have a choice about needing childcare, so the question isn't "do you really want to find childcare for your kids."
I guess the thing I realized last night is that what our family needs isn't a nanny. While the primary job description may read "take care of twin toddlers for 25 hours a week," what our family needs is more like a doula, a grandma, a loving figure who cares about the themes we are playing out, who cares to take the time to be objective about what the present needs are. This may sound burdensome and too large of a job description, but I have friends who are like this who work under the "nanny" job title. We as a family are being birthed into a new phase of our life together - a new phase that will land me either employed outside the home or back to grad school (please, let it be the latter!), will transform Laurie's time and open the space for her to direct energy back into her career as an illustrator, and finally, this change will impact how my sons are socialized, the day-to-day experiences they will have, and the amount of time they spend away from their parents.
In the ad I originally placed online, I wrote that we needed an "adventurous nanny," when in fact, we simply need a nurturer.
I feel a calmness now; I have identified the dissonance that might have been blocking us from finding that person who no doubt would love to nurture our family in this way. Because really, in the end, that's what I believe family is about, and it's the role I believe can be so powerful as a care giver - someone to love us for who we are, where we are, and someone for us to love back.