I recently read an article about what it feels like to love another women's child and was both touched and inspired by someone's ability to express what it feels like to work as a nanny.
Yes, I could share the post and pass it along the queue - another link to click – another article to scroll past - or I could put pen to paper (finger to keyboard) and reflect on my own experiences of loving another person's child.
Unlike many peers my own age, I don't have the blessing of living near my family, or know the joy of having a nephew or niece to call part-mine. Now nearly halfway through my 20's I have developed a 'family' through my clients and the children I look after - and regularly burst at the seams with love for children that I have no blood connection to.
One experience in particular, a child, we will just call him H, came into MY life (not I into his) when I was 23 years old, and he was the tender age of 2.5months. It was not love at first sight, it was an interview with two loving parents, taking the time to express my experience, skills, formal education and reasons why I was the right person for this job, polite handshakes and a wave goodbye and then I waited to hear.
I inevitably was offered the role and loving mum spent the next 2 weeks with me showing me the ropes, showing me how to read all of H's little signs and cries, how to care for him, how to settle etc. It was like learning a new language. I'd never worked regularly with a child this little before. Then one day (a day I remember vividly!) Mum and Dad went to work and left me for my first full day with this tiny little human - beating heart, breathing lungs, tiny limbs - in my own two hands to trust and to look after. My greatest responsibility.
The first few months were much harder than Mum, Dad, or I could have predicted. Little H suffered through terrible reflux and colic, we had daily doses of losec and mylanta to keep the pain at bay - but bub would cry so often and sleep so little. It was a big learning curve for all of us and there were some really difficult days. There were even times - on particularly bad days - that I would sit outside his door and cry myself. Because I couldn't help, because I couldn't get him to sleep, because whatever I tried some days just didn't work. But in all hours, I never once thought about giving up on him or the family. One tiny smile, one giggle, the way he began to recognise my face and became affectionate with me, it was all worth it.
Little H, Mum, Dad and I are now 1 year into this journey and it's been the most amazing care experience of my life. I've been made to feel so welcome in this home, and through open communication and a mutal agreement of parenting/nannying styles we've never had an issue to this date.
H is now 16 months old and he is indescribably beautiful. He makes me honestly laugh out loud, has the fullest and most endearing personality, he's my little friend and the sight of him every morning when I see him makes my heart burst.
On paper, it looks like I am doing a service for this family - working to keep their child happy, safe, educated. But in reality, what I've received out of this role and the joy I've found in this tiny human – it’s this family are doing something amazing for me.
To Mum and Dad, thank you for trusting me, for believing in me and for letting share in the miracle of your family.
To H, I love you beyond words.