hen our grandsons first came to live with me, I thought: I can handle this. But handling a three-month old and an almost two year-old at 53 proved quite a different thing from when I raised my two daughters, also nineteen months apart, at 30. So after almost a year, I decided to find a live-in nanny.
I wanted someone who was trustworthy, brought good references, and innately loved little children. I needed Mary Poppins.
I was reluctant to buy a “nanny-cam.” Instead I planted my mother in my house to keep an extra two eyes on the nanny to see how she interacted with my grandkids. I’d surprise her at the park to make sure she hadn’t taken her eyes off of them. I’d listen in on the baby monitor. Good references were easier to come by than I thought. Later I found out that some of these women give you the telephone numbers to people they know and not people they have worked for. Loving my grandsons was the easy part.
Nanny Number One was so efficient I wanted her to be my secretary. After one week and the realization that she would have to do some light housekeeping of the boys’ stuff, she revealed to me that she was allergic to cleaning products. All of them. At her initial interview, Nanny Number Two asked for an extra $50 per week. When I saw all the gold jewelry she sported, I knew why. But she was always well-dressed and her make-up impeccable, so why not?. Number Three, her antithesis, rarely combed her hair and wore pink furry bed slippers all day.
I bought her new shoes, but how to approach someone about a daily bad hair day? Once—one single time—I asked her to get up in the middle of the night with the baby, and she quit! Missing a good night’s sleep made her nauseous. Number Four was an older lady. After three weeks, she still couldn’t remember my husband’s name and would say, “sorry, wrong number,” to everyone who phoned.
My grandsons never knew who was going to show up on Monday mornings. I mixed up their names. My mother got bored of being a spy and she missed having lunch with her friends. I was at the point of just hiring anybody, a warm body. I longed for Mary Poppins, but then I remembered that Julie Andrews won an Academy Award for that role back in 1964. Numbers One through Four were shoe-ins for best supporting actress.
I asked someone who had a home with a full staff, what on earth I should look for in a nanny. She recited a Spanish saying which loosely translated suggests that the person you look for has to come into your heart through your eyes. Like love at first sight.
My cousin from the funeral highly recommended his deceased mother-in-law’s caregiver, and I fell in love with her during the telephone interview. Then, she interviewed us. Her references were good—and true. She was the one, even though she was really the fifth. She is (not was!) cheerful, hard-working, loves my grandsons, and has changed the energy in our home. Like love at first sight.