Any advice for a stay at home mom who gets a lot of flak from a lot of people because I employ a full-time nanny? No, I'm not lazy and I don't have any delusions that I'm too good to change diapers or anything; I'm just very lucky that we are comfortable enough to be able to afford help, and I truly believe that I'm a better mom because I'm not frazzled all the time. But when I say that, people invariably hear something different, and their judgments are harsh. It's gotten to the point where I feel ashamed when the nanny is outside with the kids because I know the neighbors can see her.
I sort of snickered at the post, thinking, "Why does she have a full-time nanny?" And then came Carolyn's response:
Wow. Tell them you're doing your part to create jobs in a down economy, conjure a vivid image of yourself flipping them a monster bird, have yourself a Mona Lisa smile, and carry on.
Followed by this other reader's more direct answer:
To the Mom with the Nanny: the attitudes of the people who judge you are PRECISELY the kind of thing that keep stressed-past-the-limit parents from getting necessary help. You may be erring on the side of over-caring for your children, but I'd call that the right side. And I wish I could smack the people who perpetuate the idea that needing help with your children makes you abnormal.
And just like that, I was smacked upside the head. These women were right. Every parent could use some help and maybe even a full-time nanny. A full-time nanny would give me time to cook a week's worth of meals at one sitting instead of squeezing cooking in two days a week. It would mean a cleaner house. It might even mean a nap for the anti-napper, Monkey, because there'd be another set of hands to read to him and get him to sleep while I put Munchkin down. It could mean more patience and more (not less) attention from me. After all, if the nanny spent time with one child, I could focus entirely on the other. A nanny could, in fact, lead to better parenting, and isn't that what we all want to offer our children?
I think I, like a lot of parents, carry an image of what "real" parenting means. We don't want to be like those wealthy mothers of lore that can barely be bothered to get to know their children and (purportedly) had children to improve their status or, these days, their brand. Instead, we feel we have to be with our children every second of the day. We don't get help. We judge other stay-at-home-parents who have their kids in daycare or have a regular weekly sitter.
When I quit my job after Monkey was born, it was the first time I hadn't earned my own money since I was 11. I felt terribly guilty and thus was slow to spend money on a sitter to help out here and there. It wasn't until I got a full-time job that 13-month-old Monkey went to daycare. After working for a year I realized that not only did I want to stay home again, but I wanted Monkey to stay in daycare two days a week. He loved the activities and the massive amount of creative toys and we loved the structure, the education, and the social skills he picked up sharing, eating and playing with other children.
Now, my life at home is about to change as 10-month-old Munchkin will start daycare two days a week in September and Monkey will be in preschool five days a week until 2:30pm. I again feel guilty about the ten hours a week I'll have without children, but I'm going to try to stop the guilt and make the most of my time alone. I will run more errands, do more cooking and do more writing when they're not here. I hope those ten hours will translate into more fun and education for them when they're away and a more focused and balanced mom when they're with me.