December 19, 2008

The Nanny Chronicles: Part I

I think it may be time to find a new sitter. What does this have to do with a blog about careers? Well, this blog is about more than just work advice...this blog is about work and life and, sorry to break it to you, there is no way to keep them separate. Sometimes, life just happens.

I have been telling my husband forever that I think we need a new sitter but it is so hard to make the decision to cut the ties. It almost feels like what I think divorce would feel like. We are attached to her, she is attached to my daughter, we expect things from her and know what to do and what not to do during certain much we can get away with and how much we can't...just like in a marriage. Yet, there comes a time when you realize that the dance is not worth the sore legs later. Such is the case today.

So, let me give you some history. My daughter is 16 months old and has been with my sitter since she was a month old, so we're talking about 15 months of bonding here. Now, all in all, my sitter is really great. She takes care of only my daughter and treats her like her own child. She is passionate and affectionate and caring and everything else you could want in somebody watching your child...she just doesn't understand her role, which is this: She is the sitter and I am her employer. Her job and my main priority is with her watching my daughter. That is what I pay her to do.

Over the course of our relationship, she has asked me from time to time if I could pick my daughter up early because her son had a weekend camping trip or some other affair that she wanted to attend. I didn't really mind because these events usually landed on Fridays and I looked forward to the opportunity to dodge out of the office a bit early to start the weekend. This was still during a very busy time at work and as the HR Manager, I had a full plate that I would often bring home with me to finish, anyway.

Things started to really slow down at work so I would take the time and opportunity to plan doctor visits for the kids and often when I would take my daughter to get her shots every three months, I would just keep her home with me so I could keep an eye on her. I explained to the sitter that work was slow and that on these days I could afford to just work from home to be with my little girl. I guess she took this as her opportunity to take advantage.

The requests for me to pick up my daughter started coming more frequently, where it seemed like at least once a week, she had something to do, either at her kids' school or otherwise. Now, I understand that she has kids and that she wants to do things with them but, if that was the case, then she should not have agreed to become my sitter. I am busy too and obviously I need a sitter or I would not be paying one. I don't like daycare but that's a whole other story. Anyway, I digress...

I think what is quickly becoming the last straw is that ever since Thanksgiving, I have had to pick my son up from school at 2:15pm everyday since his after care closed down (the economy is affecting everybody, I guess). About two weeks ago, she sees me at the school (her kids go to the same school as my son) and she has my daughter. Of course, I see my baby and I want to take her home with me so I do. Now, maybe this was a mistake on my part, but it seems like ever since then she'll text me (yes, I said text...that is a whole other post in and of itself!) every day to ask whether or not I am picking up my daughter when I pick up my son!! Ummmm...NO!! If I want a part-time sitter then I will pay you to be a part-time sitter. I still have errands to run or work to do or writing to get done that I can do with an 8 year old who plays outside or can otherwise keep himself occupied (and yes, I am sure I will hear about how I am a bad mother for not playing with my son during working hours, but whatever). My daughter is a baby, on the other hand, and wants constant attention...the kind I can not give her when I have conference calls or reports to run or fires to put out.

I try to explain all of this to the sitter and you know what she tells me? "Well, I have things to do too and sometimes I have to take (insert my daughter's name here) with me." Well, too freaking bad! That's what you signed up for. It's your job to watch my daughter between the hours of 7am and 6pm. If I choose to pick her up early, then great for you, but if not, then that's that...don't expect it.

Which brings me to today. My son's holiday party was today at his school. I want to try to be there for my kids as much as possible so I volunteer to bring in cupcakes and cookies and stay to help out. I had made mention of this to my sitter through casual conversation a few days ago and she made it a point to inform me that she was planning to go to help out with her kids as well. No problem. So, last night, she texts me (man, does that bother me!) to remind me that she is going to the school with her kids to help out and what do I want her to do with my daughter? WHAT?!?!?! Is she serious??? So, I text her back (hey..two can play at this game) and I ask her what she means. I tell her that she is putting me in a bind and I would expect her to watch my daugher. Besides, I said, what would she do with her if I was actually at work? She sends me a message to say that she will take her with her but just wanted to find out if I was planning to pick her up. Man...the nerve!!

Then today as I am pulling out of the parking lot of my son's school, she sends me another text asking if I am getting my daughter now or if my husband will be picking her up later. I quickly send her back a text to say that he will get her later and that I have some things to do. Do you know that she had the nerve to text me back to say that she has things to do too and now she has to take my daughter with her??? Are you kidding me? This is what I pay you for!! I don't care that you have things to do. I don't care that you want to volunteer at your kids' school and take them places during the day (yeah...yeah...say what you want). I don't pay her for me to care...I pay her to provide a service, for which she is not doing such a good job.

Whew!! I vented and I said all of that to say that I am torn. I don't know whether to break the bond that she and my daughter have and commence on the never-ending quest for the fantastical, non-existing perfect daycare or put up with the BS that I do because my daughter loves her and beyond all the mess, she really is good with her. As any working mother (or hell, even fathers these days) can attest to, the balance of work and life is a precarious one. Everyday there is an unsurmoutable mountain of issues on top of work that need to be dealt with and the pressure can sometime be unbearable. As you can see, I don't have all the answers, but sometimes venting can be powerful and who doesn't need to let off a little steam every now and then?

So, thanks for listening. Until next time...

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