We’re at it again. Looking for yet another nanny. Our summer nanny is due to return to school in a couple of weeks so we need to finally find that elusive unicorn that is perfect for both the girls and us (read, me). Like soulmates, I’m worried that you’re only allotted one nanny unicorn in life and that we had her in Seattle.
So I’m trying to dissect what it was about our last nanny that worked so well so that I may magically reformulate it into a successful concoction with a new person.
But if you ask me what do I want in a great caregiver for my girls, I find myself at a loss for words that adequately but simply summarize the complexity of my wishes. Of course I want her to keep them safe, to be patient and engage them in fun activities.
But that can’t be it… because many others have done that and not found a fit with our family, our lives. The kind where you don’t worry about handing your crying baby with a poopy diaper over to this saint while you’re still in your pajamas with bedhead and a pre-caffeine level of coherence. The kind that doesn’t get phased by living in the sausage factory (so many people love to say “how do you do it?”… few have the stomach to see it in action behind the scenes).
So it’s not a simple list of experience and qualifications. It goes way beyond the superficial and the quantifiable.
But then it came to me yesterday. I realize that there is really only one thing I look for: do they see and understand my girls’ hearts?
Do they know that the Bug is wise beyond her 3 years, cautious in nature, but if you can draw it out, you won’t find a kid that loves to be sillier? That she hates to be scared, unprepared or surprised? That talking her through a new activity or showing her is the secret to the new adventures she loves. And the sign that you’ve won her over is how she won’t stop talking to, at, or around you.
Do they understand that the Peanut may appear to be a laid-back, reckless one-baby demolition team but underneath she is clever, calculating and loves cuddling like nothing else? That she is quick to laugh and to forgive but she is fierce about what she wants and will get it through whatever means necessary?
This is hard enough. And I would hire anyone that is able to do even this.
But then, to get someone that can also work with us? That’s the really priceless part.
I’ve said it before – J and run our lives to within an inch of possibility. And often it’s the nanny that traverses the gaps where we don’t manage to connect everything ourselves.
Do they know how much I want to be able to have homecooked meals at least 4-5 times a week but that sometimes I need help prepping or making grocery lists to be able to do that. Can they effortlessly take care of everything having to do with the girls, from cutting fingernails to washing and changing crib sheets every week?
And finally, the magical, je ne sais quoi part of it: can I come home and know in my heart of hearts that although J and I weren’t with the girls during the day, that in some ways they were with someone even better – someone that loves them like they’re their own?
Even just reading all of this over I realize how picky and particular I must sound.
But my girls deserve nothing less. So then, how to find this needle in a haystack? This diamond in the rough?
The search is brutal. But I have faith.
We found it once. We’ll find it again.