Welcome, Mamma Crew, to another busy, chaotic, challenging, and exciting but always beautiful day of an older mom like you!
So for the last couple of episodes, I have been talking about the challenges that we as a family encountered with daycare when the girls were young. The first episode was about our first couple of nannies. Boy, let me tell you, that was absolute hell! And then daycare, which didn’t turn out to be a lot of fun either. And here is our final episode, “Nanny Hell part two”. Now, in all honesty, I am going to give you a spoiler and tell you that it took into a happy ending, but before we got to that happy ending, we had a couple of bumps on the road.
Olivia… Yes, I changed her name to protect her even though she definitely does not deserve it, didn’t make it to the end of the week, okay? Now this woman also came highly recommended, (not by one person, two people, three people). She came highly recommended by several people and we did do a background check on her. So, you would have thought that we did our due diligence with her. But despite her glorious recommendations, the fact that she played very well with the kids; the kids seemed happy; they had started to put on weight (this was after our professional daycare debacles). Well not soon after we hired her, she let Andy play with a nail clipper. One of those big, hunky, nail clippers, you know the ones I’m talking about? Well… Andy clipped her tongue. Ugh! I shudder to even remember it. Thankfully, not the tip, but the middle of the tongue. Nevermind that the tiniest cut on your tongue hurts like absolute hell, this was slightly a bigger cut! I had to embezzle it for about a week in order for it to heal and Andy to be able to eat correctly and suck correctly and speak correctly. Andy was our child that already had a speech impediment. I mean, come on! And why would you allow a child, a toddler, to play with nail clippers?!
I remember my husband picking me up at work and saying, “Don’t freak out!”. Well, guess what? The first thing I did was freak out! My heart was pounding, I wanted to quit my job and that was even before I knew what had happened. When he told me about the nail clipper, I wasn’t quite sure what to make out of it. But of course, I went home and the baby was napping and Olivia was apologizing, “It’s never gonna happen again. It was an accident. I just turned my head around for just a second…” Oh, the proverbial “I just turned my head around for a second!” If I ever hear that from a nanny again, I think my head will go kaboom!
I pulled out her little tongue, saw the cut and I took her to the doctor. I immediately took her to the doctor. The doctor informed us that we were very lucky that she had not clipped the tip of her tongue because then, she would have never been able to speak correctly. But he did insist that we call child protective services and that we fire this woman. How could something like that happen? How could she let something like that happen?! And the thing was, she wasn’t doing other household work. We never had a nanny who did household work because we wanted them to concentrate on our kids. And trust me, having a full-time job, yes, you don’t spend all your time in class but you spend a lot of time creating content, you spend a lot of time grading. It was a full-time job.
And it’s hard to come home and then make dinner and take care of all the things that you need to take care of . Laundering, cleaning the house and all of those other things that you need to do. And nothing like that ever happened when the girls were with me! Despite the fact that I was taking care of the house and taking care of meals, and taking care of the babies. And yet, even though these nannies only had to take care of our babies, they just kept allowing the babies to get into things, things that happened to the babies. I still don’t understand until this day, and as you can tell by my voice, it still really upsets me! Why do they let these things happen?! I don’t know. I really don’t know. But let me tell you I feel for every working mother out there because what can happen to our children when they’re in the care of others is just mind boggling!
Of course, we had to hire somebody else. I couldn’t give up my job. We both needed our salary but more importantly, because the girls were preemies, we needed my medical insurance. Yeah, we were naive enough to think that we had medical insurance problems. Well, the situation is even worse. You pay a lot of money for medical insurance and you get very little in return. But back then, my biggest concern was keeping my job so I would have the medical insurance. Not what my medical insurance would cover. So, we absolutely needed my job, we needed that medical insurance. I could not quit. Not to mention the fact that we own a house in the middle of nowhere. What were we gonna do? Quit? Then I was going to stay home, to live in this tiny little town far away from family and friends? Nope. Nope! I can’t do it. But I did live in terror. Absolute freaking terror! We had to find someone else. Someone else to take care of our babies while I was at work.
Harper (also not her name) also came highly recommended and frankly, by then, I didn’t care. Didn’t seem to make a difference. No matter how carefully you look into their background. No matter how highly recommended these people came, the outcome didn’t seem to make a difference. So, I leave my babies with this woman. Now, she was an older woman. She was in her late 40s, early 50s, (I don’t remember her age exactly anymore). She had her own kids. I had met her kids. Her kids were wonderful people. She seemed like a wonderful person and again, she came highly recommended.
So, what happens next? Hmm… First day. Day one, I come home and find out that Andy has taken a nap crying and Harper tells me this and my husband tells me this, okay? And I go and I look at Andy and I see from the way that she’s sleeping, she doesn’t look comfortable. She looked like she’d been crying but they tell me that it was the new nanny, maybe she wasn’t comfortable around her, it was a stranger, yadda, yadda, yadda!! Okay. Alright. I can accept this explanation. She did look normal but then Harper was still there in her room. My husband was still talking to me about this. Andy wakes up. Son of a bitch. I’ve never heard her cry like this before or since.
The shrill! It was the worst thing I’ve ever heard! It felt like somebody had drilled a stick through my heart and just pounded it in. My husband tells me, “There’s nothing wrong with her. You just spoil them so much, you give them your attention all the time and she knows your home and she just wants your attention. She’s just being stubborn. Let Harper go and handle the situation.” So, it sounded like reasonable words. I held off, I think for about a minute, okay, because I heard my baby cry and my answer was, “Fuck my husband’s opinion. Fuck Harper. I don’t fucking care if I’m being unreasonable and I don’t care if my children are spoiled. There’s something wrong and I’m going to go find out what the hell it is!” And so, I get my baby and I see her face, her features are contorted with pain. and I’m like, “You know what, we’re going to the hospital right now!. That’s all there is to it!”
Harper comes along with us. She’s like “I’m sure there’s nothing wrong. I’m sure there’s nothing wrong. I think the baby just doesn’t like me”. These aren’t I don’t like somebody cries! These are I’m in miserable pain cries! So, my husband, realizing that I was going to the hospital with or without him, takes me and I’m holding the baby, I’m not even buckled in. The hospital (thankfully!) is only like three minutes away from our home. And we get in there and my baby’s crying and I’m trying to explain to the emergency room nurse what was going on when a male nurse comes from the back, takes my baby from my hands and does something to her arm and my baby stops crying.
No more crying! She’s just, like, looking at him. She saw me but the shrilling cries are gone! They’re gone! And I ask him, “What did you do?” He said it was a nursemaid elbow. Basically, Harper had dislocated my baby’s elbow. Ugh! Even now, the expletives that came out of my mouth are not for public consumption. I think I would have put a sailor to shame! I wanted to turn around and choke the fucking living daylights out of this woman!
What contained me? The male nurse explained to me, “This is not an uncommon injury for toddlers.” But I still get so angry! How did this happen? Well, my daughter didn’t want to move in a direction that Harper wanted her to go. Instead of picking her up, she took her arm and my baby dropped on her bottom because she is one stubborn kid, let me tell you. And that’s when the elbow got dislocated.
After Harper’s explanation, the nurse said that that was a very common reason. That it happens to parents a lot. And that the other time that this kind of thing happens is, you know like sometimes, Mom grabs the kid by one arm and Dad grabs the kid by the other arm and you allow the kids to swing back and forth. Kids love it. It seems absolutely harmless… It turns out it’s not that harmless. You can dislocate your kid’s elbow. I have never heard of anything like that.
It took me a while to calm down. I said this in the first episode and I would repeat it again, “Moms out there, trust your instinct! No matter how reasonable somebody sounds (like my husband saying Andy was just being stubborn, because Andy, boy let me tell you she was a stubborn baby. She’s a stubborn kid and she’s now a stubborn teenager. Those sound reasonable!), trust your gut! Trust your own instinct. It will not fail you!” And what’s the worst thing that can happen if you’re wrong, okay? You made a trip to the hospital which you couldn’t afford. Yeah. Is it gonna hurt you financially? Yes. Is it gonna give you tremendous peace of mind? Absolutely!
And even if it doesn’t end up on a trip into a hospital, if it’s simply you have a feeling that things are not right, trust that feeling! There’s a reason for it. So, Harper didn’t mean to hurt Andy. It was a common childhood injury. Nevertheless, I was really uncomfortable after that. Okay. So, another one bites the dust. What can I tell you? Yes. I understood that it had been an accident but I couldn’t understand why Harper hadn’t just picked Andy up. Andy was a tiny baby. As a toddler, I think by the time that Harper made that mistake, Andy was three years old. She was still wearing a size one. She was tiny! She could have just picked her up! So, as I said, another one bites the dust. We had to find someone else.
Darla was our last official nanny. She, too, came with glowing recommendations. Like the others, she appeared to be kind and loving. But unlike the others, she was pretty amazing! She worked with me all the way up until the girls went to preschool. The bottom line was the girls were always happy to see Darla coming through the door. They played with her, she loved them, she read them stories. She was just wonderful. Absolutely wonderful!
was always punctual. She was flexible when I needed to work late. And once, when my husband actually drove himself to the hospital and ended up having to stay in the hospital, and he was there for, I think, like, three or four days, and ended having to have surgery (we only had one car at that point), she actually drove from her home so that she could help me pick up my car that was at the hospital (I know, three minutes away but Uber didn’t exist at that time!) and there was no public transportation in the town that I was aware of. Later on, I found out that there was, like this little bus but it wouldn’t have helped because this was on a Saturday.
So, she drove the thirty minutes, didn’t charge me, so that I could go pick up the car. She had me stay with my husband, okay. She was nice enough that I could spend several hours with my husband. She took the kids back home. She refused to charge me and she was just wonderful. And without me asking her, she starts doing the kids’ laundry. It was a tremendous help for me because, oh my God! Those kids could go through laundry when they’re young, can’t they? She also picked up the kitchen. She offered to run errands for me, I never took on her words with the errands but I would have trusted her to run the errands. I think I would have probably trusted her with my ATM card, which, I don’t know if after everything I’ve been through, makes me a fool or just makes me a human being.
Everything was wonderful until it wasn’t. Why did we part ways with Darla? Well, there were a couple of challenges. Number one: We did feel that we’re being held hostage and I heard this from other mothers recently. They feel hostages of their excellent daycare providers because they ask for raises. Raises that they might deserve, but we can’t always afford. So we kept raising her salary because we have to. She was great. She was fabulous and we didn’t regret that. But our family was just starting out, teaching doesn’t pay a lot and my husband’s business had not yet completely taken off. It did eventually take off, and he did pretty well but at that point, we were still struggling a little bit. So, whenever she asked for a salary raise we gave it to her.
She was never really happy. But we never really could afford to pay her more. This just kept going for as long as we had her. We stretched our budget to the breaking point. We really felt trapped, there was nothing else we could do. So, we kept doing it. Kept increasing her salary every time that she demanded it. And we were just grateful that our kids were safe and our kids were happy. So that was the first reason.
The second reason was a little bit more challenging. She started swatting Andy’s bottom. No, she never left a mark on Andy. Andy’s bottom was never red. Andy’s bottom never had a bruise. It was a swat over the diaper. The problem was that I am the daughter of an alcoholic. An alcoholic who believed in spanking. Now, he had his rules. His rules were, three swings with the belt and that was it. But the belts would leave these purple-black horrific welts on our bottoms. And I don’t know, I don’t know if his reasons for spanking us were reasonable or not. Should we have been reprimanded? Should we have been sent or to our rooms? Should we have had…? I don’t know.
I do know that I didn’t want that with my kids. I didn’t want to hit my kids. I didn’t want to spank my children. And once again, it goes back to what I said in the previous episode. It’s not just whether these people are taking good care of your children or not. Are they imposing beliefs on your family that you are not comfortable with? And I was not comfortable with the spanking! I definitely had a comfy Jesus moment (that I will discuss later) when it came to Andy and spanking.
But I just didn’t want to go that route. I was not comfortable with it, not given my background. And the thing is, that I always felt that it could go wrong, okay? That I, I the child of an abusive parent, who left me black and blue, who sometimes hit me so hard that I couldn’t sit down for weeks, that eventually it went from spanking to throwing me against the wall. That I could repeat history with my children. So, I never wanted to start on that route and it always frightened me. And I know that that has nothing to do with the normal spanking that a parent does. I understand this on a rational logical level, but on an emotional instinctual level, I can’t. I just can’t. I just can’t do it. Sorry, I can’t go there.
I spoke to Darla and I asked her to please stop and not do it again because she didn’t hide it from me. When I came in one day and she was doing it, she didn’t try to hide that she had done it. I was shocked to find out that she had been doing it all along! I mean she worked for us for I think for a year and a half, maybe two years. The girls had never complained. She never told me that she’d done it and I think probably if I haven’t walked into her, I would have never found out about it! I freaked! And maybe part of the reason I freaked was because she had never told me about it. Because unless I hadn’t walked in on her, I might not have found out about it. There was a hidden component to it. And that’s the thing about abuse — the abuser typically tries to hide it, the family typically tries to hide it.
So, it just hit too close to home. To this day, I can honestly tell you I don’t believe that Darla was abusing my children. I was simply not comfortable with the way that she was reprimanding them.
So, when I asked her not to do it and she refused to stop, I let her go. It was a painful experience because she had done such a great job and she was really attached to the family and when I let her go, unlike the other times with the women, who just like, yeah, you know, I need to leave. In this case, she cried! And she felt, truly felt that it was being ungrateful. But the bottom line is I come back to what I said: It doesn’t matter what other people believe! Are you comfortable with the situation that your children are in? And the answer for me was no! I was not comfortable, I didn’t want my kids bottom swatted! Period. She should have respected that but she couldn’t, so I had to let her go.
After her, I had two other sitters, (no, actually, three). But this time they were sitters, they were not full-run, blown-on nannies because the girls were old enough to go to preschool. By then, they were old enough to articulate whatever was happening to them and let me know if they were unhappy or not unhappy, or what was going on, if somebody was spanking them or not feeding them, or whatever the case might be. And I always made it a playful thing. At the end of every day, during bath time, I will sit down and I will talk to them and I would ask them what they did with the day and what did and so and so did with you or what did they do here. And so, I developed the comfort level with these sitters.
There was one more accident with the sitter, who was actually a pretty great sitter. Kate. She was pretty great and she was watching Emmy, and Emmy fell forward and just happened to hit the edge of the couch’s leg which was just a corner. The next thing you know, Kate has opened the curtain of the bathroom and I’m standing there naked and there’s blood coming down Emmy’s face. It was a tiny, tiny little nick right on her forehead. She still has a tiny little scar right there. Another rush to the emergency room. This time she got a little glue stitch (not an actual stitch, just a little glue stitch) and she was fine. And she even said, “You know, I fell, I tripped and I hit my head.”
So that was okay. There were never any other incidents with Kate. We had another young woman who took care of them, sent them on and off. She was never happy in our home, I’m not sure why but we never had any complaints about her.
And then finally, oh! Susan was our favorite and Susan became our regular sitter, meaning whenever we went out (it wasn’t often back in those days) or we needed to go to a conference or whatever the case was. She traveled with us to Florida, she took care of the kids during the summer, sometimes during the part of the winter break, so that I could work. Whatever the case was, Susan was absolutely fabulous! She was just a wonderful young woman, a little shy, but just wonderful! The kids loved her. In fact, she gave the kids a ton of Barbie’s because she was so into Barbie’s when she was young and that started our humongous Barbie collection but she was just wonderful and she became a wonderful teacher.
Now, here’s the thing. The funny thing is when I started telling my friends about these stories, these horrible stories, they started sharing theirs with me. I was like, “What the hell! Why didn’t you tell me you had such a miserable time finding reliable, good daycare?!” And their response was, “Well, as apprehensive as you are, we thought you would never have a child.” Thanks a lot! What are you thinking, you should have told me! Were they right, would I have never had a child?
No. No. I always wanted to be a mother and I really enjoy all of my children. My twins. My thirteen-year-old daughter. My five-year-old son. But I wish they would have shared those stories with me because I don’t know, maybe I would have tried harder to find someone who was more reliable… But I look back and I think in every case I did my due diligence, I really, really tried. So perhaps, it wouldn’t have been any help in that sense but at least I wouldn’t have felt so crazy! Because I felt like this was only happening to me. Right? And as an older mom in a town where the most average age of a mom was twenty, I didn’t really have anybody to talk to. Facebook wasn’t that popular back then, I mean this was when MySpace was around. So, just communication, access to different resources was just very limited in this small town and I felt very isolated.
And it was hard for me to spend money, calling friends long-distance when I had to spend it on sitters and things that my kids needed. So, if they had told me at least, I wouldn’t have felt so crazy. But live and learn, right? But I’m telling you, I’m passing it forward here, telling you that you always trust your instincts when it comes to daycare providers, whether it’s a daycare center, home care center, a nanny in your home. Whatever the situation is, regardless of how much you are paying them, regardless of how highly recommended they come, trust your instincts.
If somebody tells you that your kids are not being taken care of properly. If something is telling you that the kids aren’t safe or your kids are not happy or, hell, you are not happy because your nanny isn’t doing what you asked her to do, or taking care of your kids the way that you ask them to do. We’re paying for the service. We have a right. We have a right to receive the service that we’re paying for, okay?
Daycare providers are not doing us a favor. And sometimes we act like they are because they can be very loving. Because they can be so great and so amazing. And I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be grateful for that. But we do need to keep it in our minds that we are paying for a service and we’re entitled to receive that service. So, trust your instincts. Always, trust your instincts. Do what you believe is right for your child and your family.
And to all those daycare providers and nannies out there that do a great job, thank you! Thank you, because there’s a lot of moms like me that rely on you to take care of our kids, not because we don’t love our children, not because we’re choosing our career over our children, but because we need to rely on you. To those of you who do a good job, thank you so much. I hope you are appreciated cause you deserve it.
So, what have I learned from this journey? Other than to trust my instincts, I don’t know. I don’t have a key to help you find that perfect daycare provider for your child or that wonderful nanny. I wish I did. I really wish I did. I can tell you that we checked references, that we really try hard to find people that seemed kind and seemed to fit well with our kids and in our family. And I can tell you the majority of the time, it didn’t work. I can also tell you that when it did work, it was wonderful to be able to trust someone while I was working, to feel that I could be at peace, to know that my child, my children are being well taken care of. They were being loved. So, was this a perfect journey? Nope! And that’s why we always end with…
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