Nannies and Boyfriends

Posted: October 26th, 2006 | Author: | Filed under: Friends and Strangers, Husbandry, Misc Neuroses, Miss Kate | No Comments »

Sometimes I wonder if my brain works very differently than other peoples’. It seems that I can’t have an experience without somehow tying it to something else in my life. I mean, I guess that’s how we all operate on some level, to process change. But for me sometimes it feels more like a game of Concentration. I turn over one Jack and know I’ve seen another Jack somewhere…but where was it? It’s fun to me to make the connection.

So Shelly. Our nanny. As I’ve not been shy about sharing, we got off to a rocky start. I was returning to work after a year off. Mark was traveling for business. Shelly was new to all of us. And in addition to the new job, new team, new industry, I had a new commute which I’d yet to understand the traffic/distance and timing ins-and-outs of.

Most of my family and friends offered their shoulders for me to unburden myself upon that first week. I was going to be 5 minutes late getting home on my second day of work, and Shelly’s reaction was less than easy-going. It was a stressful interaction with her that dominoed to Kate also being stressed, and especially without Mark here to help me wrangle with it, the whole experience lead me to question where she was truly The One to care for Kate.

Well since then the job has become less new. I have an understanding of the intricacies of the commute. Mark has been traveling less for work. And I ironed out some issues with Shelly’s hours that allow me more wiggle room in my drive home. She and I have also gotten to know each other better. And she and Kate have clearly forged a bond.

And yet, the outpouring of support from those family members and friends who had my back when I was sure the nanny should go, haven’t all caught up with our current state of contentedness. When they inquire whether we’ve found someone new, I feel the need to justify and explain why we haven’t and how we’ve had a change of heart. And still I worry that the kind inquirer won’t really believe me, or think I’ve made the best decision.

It leaves me feeling like you do when you and your boyfriend have a fight, or break up, or he just does something jerky. You do what any typical gal does–reach out to your posse for support. And often that support comes in the form of “you’re too good for him,” “you should ditch the dope” and sometimes even the candid I’m-telling-you-this-because-I’m-your-friend-and-care-about-you “I never really liked him in the first place.”

Which all gets a bit sticky once the incident that set off all the need for all the extra love and support is past, and you find yourself back together with said BF and feeling all butterfly-stomachy in love again. Those conversations in which you and you friends fantasized about him getting afflicted with a lifetime worth of he’ll-never-date-again acne suddenly need to be swept under the carpet by all parties. When both groups are together again, say, you sitting on your parent’s couch snuggling with the guy who they know did you wrong, you’re aware that your parents are secretly still cursing him, but you want them to see that he’s changed! He’s different now! Everything is okay–really.

Alas, I fear that’s where I’ve landed with poor Shelly. Will she ever meet a friend without them wondering what it was she was so hopped-up to get to that she couldn’t stay 5 extra minutes with Kate that evening? Are they judging me and Mark as parents who really should find another nanny but are maybe just too lazy? Or worse, don’t care enough about who watches Kate?

And maybe in my most self-doubting moments, do I fear that they are right?

In my Mental Game of Concentration, I have to compare it to yet another thing. It’s like looking for apartments. When you’re looking, you want it all–hardwood floors, fireplace, parking, walk to BART. And when you finally get a place you’re thrilled that you didn’t have to take that place that was so dark, or expensive, or whatever. But you still can torture yourself with the fantasy that the perfect reasonably-priced rental with a hot tub in back and a Viking range was out there and you missed it.

Ah, well. Yesterday I went for a walk with Kate when I got back from my work trip in LA. I was looking up at the Berkeley hills and remembering when we just moved here how I felt so misplaced in this neighborhood. (After a dozen years in Noe Valley, it’s no wonder.) But now, I look up at those hills and revel in their beauty. I look at our little local library and the coffee shops and people with their yoga mats tucked under their arms waiting to cross the street, and I think of how lucky we are to be here. Without a doubt, this is home now.

Our rocky start aside, I’ve been getting some of that feel-good vibe from Shelly recently too. Seeing the great healthy meals she cooks for Kate, the way she teaches her little games and how to blow kisses. The care and concern she’s expressed in the past couple days about Kate’s runny nose.

Hopefully some day all the friends who have ever heard me kvetch about Shelly will know that Mark, Kate and I feel content and lucky to have found her, and confident that we have the right nanny–even if there may be one out there who’s just as good who charges a little less.

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