5688166455_329f582968_zOh Lovelies,

I’m sure many of you could have seen this coming, probably most of you hoped it would, but the joke’s on me. Having a baby isn’t the same as taking care of someone else’s. I know right… that should have been obvious. But it wasn’t entirely before I had the Bean Sprout.

Let’s set the stage here: I’ve been an elementary school teacher (sub or otherwise) for 4 years, I have nannied/extensively baby sat (full time and part time) for 4 families. Caring for, in total, 11 children. I also come from a really large extended family where there are always children of various ages romping around.

I get kids. Really, I do!

My catch phrase used to be “Hand me any kid, from 0-12, and I can handle it!”

Of the kids I have cared for 6 were boys. So, when I found out the Bean Sprout was male I believe my exact words were “ A boy? Oh, no problem. I got this”

But NONE OF THESE KIDS WERE MY OWN KIDS, you guys. A fact, it seems, that makes all the difference.

Let me put it bluntly, as someone who basically made her life about handling other’s kids gracefully I never expected to feel “new”. I expected to feel as if this was my second, or third, or fourth baby! “Cool as a cucumber” and always knowing what the right response was in every situation. I was SURE that’s how I would feel! This naively didn’t take into account three facts. 1) Hormones 2) An overwhelming lack of sleep that is impossible to imagine 3) He’s MY baby (this might also fall under hormones lol).

Let’s break down how these three facts railroaded my preconceived notions of what motherhood would feel like for someone who had worked so intensely with children.

1) Hormones: Your hormones have the power to completely morph you from Ms. Jackel to Ms. Hyde… I cite all PMS meltdowns as proof of that. You can feel like a completely different person simply because your hormones are raging out of control. And in the weeks and months post birth you are definitely awash with hormones. All of them. All the time. They make you weepy, scared, angry, happy, confused… you name it. And dealing with all of the hormones, all of the time, makes it incredibly difficult to get a handle on your feelings and damn near impossible to feel “cool as a cucumber”. Even on days that I had everything pretty much under control, in retrospect, it didn’t feel like it at all. Which is probably due to the second fact I didn’t take into account…

2) Sleep Deprivation: Oh.My.God. I can’t adequately describe how much sleep deprivation fucks with your brain. There is a really good reason that it’s used during interrogation and torture. It breaks down even the strongest people into quivering, sobbing, hopeless shells. People who are trained in combat. People you would be terrified to meet in a dark alley. They crack under it’s pressure. I am neither of those things. I am more akin to a fluffy bunny. That bunny became a quivering, sobbing, pile of fluffy bunny poo in the weeks post birth. I was never trained to withstand this type of torture and it made functioning on a human level nearly impossible. Never mind operating anywhere near the realm of “cool as a cucumber”. I might also throw in this tid-bit for you… The marines use a recording of a baby crying during its training. They put it on a loop to help teach the mental fortitude that you need… TO BE A MARINE! So, being a new parent is basically terrorism. How did I figure I could skate through this!?

3) My child: for some reason this makes it all so much more real. It feels crazy high stakes. This is MY BABY. Not that I didn’t treasure all of the children I was tasked with nannying, I truly did, but I wasn’t the be all, end all, parent. If shit got real… like really real, more real than I was willing or able to deal with, I could call in the parents and they would handle it. Having their backup was like a safety net I didn’t realize I had. I could always rely on someone else to handle something if shit got real. If baby was sick the parents decided when to go to the ER. If the kid wouldn’t listen to me, call in the cavalry, and the parent would lay down the law. If ANYTHING happened that I wasn’t comfortable dealing with I could count on the parents to know what to do and implement it. But not now. Now I am the parent. I am that person who is supposed to know everything. To know when things are bad enough to warrant the ER. To know how to make my child listen. To be the last in the line of defense. I keep looking around for an adultier adult but find there isn’t one. Just me and hubby. We are the real adults now I guess. Yeah, right, “cool as a cucumber”.

And this is, I’m sure, just the beginning of the lessons that I will learn now that I am the parent and not the nanny. I feel part 2 will be about cleaning house. Which feels damn near impossible. But that’s a story for another day. For now, as I wrap this up, I would like to offer a few personalized apologies to the mothers I worked with:

-To Kersten, you were right. I didn’t get it. You were correct when you said that the 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep I was getting made a big difference in how I was coping with child care. Also, I am sorry for mentally rolling my eyes and thinking that you were being dramatic… You were not. How do people do this and work? You’re my hero.

-To Joelle, you were right. You totally cannot tell that your breastfed baby is getting enough milk! And it is fucking terrifying to not know if you are providing the right amount of essential life giving nutrition to them. I am sorry for mentally rolling my eyes and wondering why ALL new moms worry about this and how they are obviously crazy. You were not.

-To Pauline, you were right. It is really very different when you have your own. There is something so much more terrifying knowing that you are the final say on this person and there is no one else to ask if you aren’t sure. I am sorry for telling you that you were wrong, that I would be different and mentally thinking you were just more-high strung than me. You were not. In fact, you are the opposite of high strung, I am totally freaking out right now. How did you do this with 3?!

-Finally, to any and all mothers out there, this is crazy. Are we really doing this? Are we really in charge of these tiny human beings?! All by ourselves! You make it look so easy. Ok… but in truth are you just hobbling it together? Yeah, me too.

XOXXO,
The Chicken

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17 thoughts on “Nanny Does Motherhood- Part 1

  • February 18, 2016 at 2:13 pm
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    Yes. Hobbling it together about sums it up. And the sleep deprivation? Good God. But we’re not complaining, right? 🙂

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    • February 19, 2016 at 9:14 pm
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      Jen,
      Complain? Me?! No, never. LOL And we have a good sleeper, he goes down from 12-630 and hes 2 months. So that’s pretty damn good and I still find catching up on my sleep debt is taking a while.
      XOXXO, The Chicken

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  • February 18, 2016 at 3:24 pm
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    2 years ago, while in the fog of sleep deprivation, a study came out about how sleep in the period where all the toxins and cheap get cleared out of your brain. Basically meaning my brain in a severe sleep deprived state was being pickled by the accumulation of junk. I swear I’m still recovering even now.

    There was a moment during that first year where someone told me that parenthood is about making it up as you go, keeping what works while ditching what doesn’t, all while faking that you’ve totally got things under control. Ive found that to be fairly true. There are so many days I fail as a parent. But I find that if I forgive myself (and others) for those less than fabulous moments, it tends to come together in a way so we can do more than simple function.

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    • February 19, 2016 at 9:15 pm
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      Cristy,
      Well, that’s… terrifying. LOL It is definitley about making it up as you go. It’sa lot like teaching “fake it til you make it!”
      XOXXO, The Chicken

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  • February 18, 2016 at 4:28 pm
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    I’m a nanny who is TTC and I want to keep thinking that it won’t be too hard!! Thanks for the warning though… 🙂

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    • February 19, 2016 at 9:17 pm
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      Betsy,
      Whatever you need to tell yourself, lady. LOL unless you are specifically a “baby nurse” I think the first few months is crazy for everyone. Nannies included. However, as he is getting older I am noticing that it’s starting to feel more natural again. But who knows if that is nanny related or just getting to know your kiddo better. Best of luck on your journey!
      XOXXO, The Chicken

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  • February 18, 2016 at 11:19 pm
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    I didn’t know that the Marines use a crying baby sound as part of their training! That’s both scary and somehow hilarious.

    I think nothing is quite so discombobulating as thinking you are expert / good at something and then realizing that you have to re-learn all the things you thought you knew. I guess in a way I was lucky that I went into parenthood knowing I knew nothing. But at some point in our lives we all have those moments of feeling inadequate, lost, overwhelmed. Honestly, I think that a lot of the time it means we are learning, and that’s a very good thing, though it doesn’t always feel good. I am sure you will find that your experience does matter and does make you a great parent, but for now your expectations have to adjust to reality. Hang in there.

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    • February 19, 2016 at 9:20 pm
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      Turtle,
      I think it was definitely harder because I expected it not to be lol! I have found ways that nannying had prepared me for motherhood but the reach so far has been sorter than expected. But it’s getting easier as he gets bigger.
      XOXXO, The Chicken

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  • February 19, 2016 at 6:01 am
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    Parenthood is a very humbling experience. When I was a foster parent I never quite got over the first night these kids would be in my house and I would put them down for bed and then I would lay there in bed realizing there was basically a stranger in my house and I was now responsible for them. I’d like to think it’s prepared me a little better but the truth is most of the kids I got were over 2 years old and slept all night. Thank God, or I might have lost my mind. Usually bed time was when I finally got to call my mom and cry and tell her how much I felt like I was failing these kids. I’m sure I’ll do the same when I have my own, the calls will just be in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep.

    This will make you a better more compassionate person and one day, you will be the one telling some naive mother-to-be that everything is getting ready to change and she will mentally roll her eyes and you’ll get it.. I am sure you are doing a wonderful job! (HUGS)

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    • February 21, 2016 at 6:24 pm
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      Lavonne,
      Isn’t that the truth. I am sure there will be things that nannyhood did prepare me for and others that you can’t truly understand until you are the parent.
      XOXXO, The Chicken

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  • February 21, 2016 at 5:32 pm
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    Sounds like one of these things that only parents understand that inferior people without children could never understand. Must be why parents are so special and non parents aren’t.

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    • February 21, 2016 at 6:27 pm
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      Greg,
      Not at all. I am sorry you chose to view it like that. There are some things in life however that cannot be fully appreciated until you have lived it. A marathon is like that. In some instances parenthood is as well, sorry that that is hard for you.
      XOXXO, The Chicken

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      • February 22, 2016 at 5:15 am
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        I guess you could look at it similar to those who go through infertility who go on to become patents versus those who don’t. Those who go on to become parents may think they know how those who don’t become parents feel because they think they were once childless. Bud the reality is they don’t know what it’s like to move on without kids because they have a child and could never understand and appreciate the challenges that lifelong childlessness presents. They don’t get what it’s like not to have a happy ending.

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        • February 23, 2016 at 10:04 am
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          Greg,
          I do suppose it is like that, yes. Some things can only be known fully by walking through it. You can know of it and be compassionate but it’s not full awareness unless you’ve been there.
          XOXXO, The Chicken

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          • February 23, 2016 at 7:12 pm
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            Ok that makes sense that you don’t know what parenthood is like unless you are a real parent just like you don’t know what it’s like to truly be infertile if you are able to have children.

          • February 23, 2016 at 7:55 pm
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            Greg,
            1. Don’t be combative just for the sake of being combative. I think you can appreciate the sentiment without making it negative and about you.
            2. Infertile, yes, I do know what it’s like to be infertile. Sterile, no, I cannot fully comprehend what it’s like to be unable to have my own children due to the circumstances of my body. They are not the same thing. I had 3 years on this journey and it was horrible. I had many failed cycles. I am grateful for where I am now, yes, but it doesn’t take away my understanding of infertility.
            Thanks, The Chicken

          • February 24, 2016 at 3:26 am
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            It wasn’t meant to be negative or combative (though it may have come across that way) but more to enlighten. Prior to getting pregnant you may have thought you’d be ok without children but did you really know if you could without having made that decision?

            While you understand infertility from the standpoint of being someone who went through treatments and after a number of them was able to have children you can never understand what it’s like to go through all of that and not end up with a happy ending. Similar in that the experience of nannying gave you some of what was involved in parenting it didn’t give you the complete picture without having gone through that experience. It’s not so much a matter of being grateful but more a matter of saying you’d be able to do something when you have no idea of whether or not you’d be able to without having to actually live it. I may think I could parent but I’ll never know whether I’d be able to because I will never experience it. I’m not saying that for sympathy but rather it’s the truth if you remove the feelings and emotions from it.

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