Tuesday I found myself the only mom in the room again, but in a much different way.
Elanor and I went to the mall to pick up the portrait art I’d bought as part of her first birthday picture package. When we arrived, it was pretty dead, and Elanor wandered over to the room where the last two times we’d gone to the studio, she’d had her picture taken, expecting to get it taken again.
“No, sweetie, no pictures today,” I told her.
“Actually, X is new here and needs to practice. We’ll trade you a free 8×10 for a photo session with X, if you think Elanor wouldn’t mind,” the manager said.
“Um, sure…” I said.
Never have I been so happy about my anal retentive need to dress my kid in a cute outfit head to toe (well, her sneakers aren’t that cute, but they’re there for orthopedic reasons, so we live with them). She had on a black turtleneck, a red sweater with ladybug pockets (Flitter Flutter line from Gymboree, found at a consignment store for $4…retail price last winter was something like $30) and matching jeans with little ladybug buttons down by the hems (same consignment store, maybe $5, retailed last winter for $30…I WIN at shopping).
So they do the 30 minute or so photo shoot with her, and then go back to select which photos they want to use as part of the whole “practice customer” experience. This usually takes around 10 minutes and they are right next door to the play area, so we head over there.
There are 3 other women whom I’d judge to be in their mid to late 20’s, possibly early 30’s. Four other small kids are running around. I assume they’re the moms, until I overhear the following…
“You’re full time?”
“Yeah. The dad’s a federal judge and the mom’s a trial lawyer, so they’re really busy.”
I continue to eavesdrop on the nannies, and hear about the dad who sees his kid maybe twice a week because he comes home after one am regularly. I hear about the mom who’s so into her job that the nanny is the one to get the kid up and put them to bed EVERY DAY. I hear about 60 hour weeks. I hear about parents who aren’t “that into” their kids.
Now, I read The Nanny Diaries, and I taught in at least one school where the per capita was high enough that I had one parent teacher conference where the nanny was brought in so that she “could be on the same page as us,” so I’m not naive enough to think that these parents didn’t exist. But looking at the brunette cherub of a little kid, I can’t imagine wanting to have so little involvement in my child’s life as the parents the nannies are describing.
I trade smiles with the nannies, none of whom have spoken with me as I pick up Elanor and take her back to the portrait studio to pick up my free 8×10…and the other pictures I couldn’t possibly walk out of there without (it’s not my fault…they put a SANTA HAT on my child….A SANTA HAT…and let her play with ORNAMENTS…) and gave her an extra tight hug to let her know how much I love her.
Before anyone accuses me of slamming working moms…SO NOT what I’m talking about here. MY mom was a working mom. She worked full time almost my whole life (with a short exception when I was a baby, and obviously which I don’t remember) but she always made a point of making some time for me. Sometimes it was a weird time of day because she had a strange schedule (she’s always had “blue collar” jobs like cashier at a grocery store or cook at a fast food restaurant, and sometimes she took classes at a community college) but she was THERE.
I fully believe you can be a full time mom, even with a full time nanny, and be a super involved and caring mom. BUT when your nanny works from the time the kid wakes up until the time the kid goes to bed SIX days a week, ask yourself how involved you really are.