“I LOVE You…” Is A Dream Come True

I remember back when I was pregnant with Ellie, a coworker asked me what I planned to do for childcare.  I explained that a nanny was really the only option…being single and working crazy hours didn’t make daycare even a remote possibility. 

I HATED even saying the word “nanny”.  It is such a loaded word…one that conjures up images of celebrities having little or nothing to do with their kids, jet setting and living fabulous lives, while having “the nanny” raise the kids.  Before I had my daughter, I thought nannies were who rich and privileged women hired, to do all of the things that were too mundane and menial related to the kids.  An identity I certainly didn’t relate to.  At all.

BUT I couldn’t come up with one daycare that was open at 5am (the time I was leaving for work), nor would I want my daughter to be dragged out of bed at that hour, and schlepped across the city…nor could I find a place that was open 24-hours – so working late to cover big news events would also be a conflict.  

My guilt and stress was compounded when this coworker said, “Well just wait until the baby wants the nanny instead of you…I’ve heard it happens all the time and it is terrible…”

“Awesome,” I thought, “Thanks for the heads up.”

But honestly my daughter preferring the nanny over me, was waaaaay down at the bottom of my single and pregnant list of things to worry about.  

So I placed a very specific ad on SitterCity.com and hoped for the best.  The first person I hired was a very sweet, smart girl who was with Ellie until she was about 9-months old.  She was then offered a job for A LOT more money than I could ever afford, so she took it, and I sort of freaked out.  

I was in the middle of going back and forth to Family Court more times than is even remotely reasonable, looking for a larger and more affordable apartment for the baby and I (she was sleeping at the foot of my bed in my 385-square foot midtown place), going to work before the sun came up, and trying to ween my daughter from breastfeeding.

And now I had to hire another nanny to watch my daughter…changing her consistency of care and impacting my day to day – and reminding me that I couldn’t be there every day like I wanted to be.  I needed someone immediately, but I am REALLY particular about who I leave my daughter with.  There are a  lot of places to cut corners in life to save money and time – child care is not one of them.   Ever, in my opinion.  If I don’t get things right with my daughter – really nothing else matters.

And, as much as I hated to admit it – this person was going to be spending more daytime hours with my child than I was going to – so I wanted someone that was a complete extension of myself…in every way possible.  

So my sister’s friend helped me out while I posted the ad again, and I prayed.  And I prayed hard.  I looked at about 90 resumes, interviewed about 15 people on the phone, and interviewed 3 people in person.  2 came highly recommended from colleagues, and one was Jillian.  When I met her, I immediately felt at ease.  And Ellie crawled right over to her lap while she was sitting on the floor (which I would later realize is Jillian’s default seating location in any home).  

She had her degree in birth to 6th grade development, had recently moved to the area, and was crashing on a friend’s couch until she found a job.  More than anything she said she wanted to live in New York City and to work with kids.    

I was a bit hesitant  given how unsettled she was in the City…this place can be brutal…walking everywhere, paying $6 for a beer, getting soaked by cabs on rainy days, subways that are gross when they work, and horrible when they don’t, rents that are much more than most people’s mortgages…I mean the list goes on and on.  

I slept on it.  I spoke to her references – who had nothing but fabulous things to say about her.  I slept on it some more, and at the end of the day – I followed my heart and I hired her.  I knew she would be a wonderful caregiver to my child.

And over time, I learned that she was as loving and considerate and solid with me as she was with my daughter.  I knew I had made the right decision when a couple months after she started, I came home from work crying because I was exhausted, the apartment I had found for us to move to had fallen through, and I just felt so incredibly overwhelmed.  When I walked in the door, I tried to stop my tears, and put on a happy face for Ellie, who was delightfully oblivious.  

I filled Jillian in on the apartment situation and got choked up all over again. While she was putting her coat on to leave for the day, she looked at me and reminded me that everything happens for a reason, and then told me that is okay if Ellie saw me upset every once in a while…pointing out that I didn’t need to always pretend I was unmoved by a few key shitty circumstances.  

The rest is sort of history…I found a great apartment…we moved…Jillian made the daily long commute up to our new apartment, remained completely flexible with my work schedule, slept over when I travelled or worked super late…and became a dear friend along the way.  I didn’t realize I was even doing it at the time, but I would keep running lists of all things Ellie did during the hours she wasn’t there, and share them with her in the 5 minute overlap we had from when she got to my place in the morning and I put my shoes on and ran out the door.

And after a while, she became the person that was most aware of my job searches, keeping me focused and motivated when I started to feel like I was never going to find something that I really loved that worked with my priorities.  

…And somewhere in there, my daughter started telling Jillian that she loved her.

“I love you too Ellie!” she says at the end of every day, while giving her a kiss through the bars on the staircase in the hallway of my apartment.

I did find the job that Jillian promised me I would…and it allows me to work at home…which means that I have a decreased need for in-home childcare.  So starting next week, my daughter will start a full day at her preschool…and we won’t get to see Jillian every day.  

Jillian is going to work with a friend’s family – and they know how lucky they are to have her, which warms my heart.  We have made plans for her to still watch my daughter when I travel and when I  have to work in the late afternoon/evening…but I know it won’t be exactly the same.  Like I said to a friend the other day, I feel like my boyfriend is moving out, but we are going to still be friends…it’s not a fun feeling.  

I am not ashamed to say that Jillian has become my partner in parenting, and my daughter’s other parent…and without really realizing it, that is what I set out to find when I hired her in the first place.

As for getting upset about my daughter wanting her over me – that hasn’t ever been an issue because we have been involved in raising my daughter – together.  When I was pregnant and scared out of my mind, I would pray for a partner to raise my daughter with, someone that would love her, and be invested in her life and her development…someone that was considerate and reliable and had excellent values.

I now see those prayers were answered – not in the form of a romantic partner…but in the form of Jillian.

My daughter and I are so incredibly blessed.