Why I’m not “JUST” the Nanny

Woman-short-hair-Chicago-Street-Taxi Photo: Rachel Mandel

Real talk:

Throughout my academic life, I’ve been prone to getting sucked up in the ambition of my peers, the dreams of my friends, and planning for future adventures with my partner. Reared to be competitive and overly-ambitious, I often felt pressured to start living my entire life immediately. I have to live abroad…immediately. I have to get my PhD…immediately! I have to earn six figures a year…IMMEDIATELY.

The truth is, I’m naturally an easygoing person. I’ve found that I actually like taking a slower pace in life. So while many friends jumped into Master’s programs or went right to that cubicle in the majestic corporate office, I found a sustainable full time nannying gig to fill my time and my empty wallet. The first family ended up moving away, but the second family was absolutely perfect for me. Two little girls who were filled with love and laughter, I fit right in. My days were filled with playing, skipping, and enjoying their abundance of curiosity for life; something I thought would forever be missing from my own. I found a magical job right out of college. Perfect! So what’s the problem?

There’s this social shift that I noticed once I graduated from college . The questions went from “So what are you going to do with your life?” to “Sooo what are you doing now?” Here’s where old habits die hard, I always ended up running that ol’ competitive bullshit. I started off by saying, “Well, I’m looking into master programs in Germany for holistic therapy”… “I’m in a yoga teacher training right now, and I’m loving the expansion of my practice.” And then I would always end with: “But as for my job, now? Oh… I’m just a nanny.”

Every time I said that, I would feel my stomach drop. As ultimately, the person in front of me has probably just finished telling me that they are striving for world peace, starting nonprofits, and getting prepared to take a trip with NASA to Mars, here I am… JUST the nanny. And I had to admit, I started to feel really bitter about it.

It wasn’t the job that was bothering me. Hell, I got to wake up every morning knowing that I was going to get smeared with paint in art class and sing my heart out to Sesame Street. I loved it! What was bothering me was that I was selling myself short. I was building everyone else to have these amazing, world-changing jobs out of college, but was portraying my job as nothing more than changing dirty diapers and finding dried peas stuck to my clothes. The problem was me.

Changing how I told my story was not only powerful for me, but gave me incredible self-validation. I am actively helping to raise two intelligent and beautiful girls, there’s nothing trivial about that. So, instead of starting off answering my friends and peers about my ambitious future plans and ending with “I’m just a nanny, for now”, I took out the “just” and began to say it with pride: I am a nanny.

I’m not saying that I’ll nanny forever. My true career passion lies elsewhere and I’m talking steps in that direction. But when the time comes to leave nannying, I will appreciate all the long walks to the park with a particularly insightful 3 year old, contemplating about how and why grasshoppers jump so high and wondering if dogs laugh sometimes when they hear a goofy joke. I will appreciate listening to “Let it Go” for the 500th time, and laughing when the 2 year old doesn’t get the concept of hide and seek and “hides” in the middle of the kitchen. My heart will burst when remembering the time they both stated that magic comes from their hands, and fairies live in their closets.

I will always proudly say that I worked as a nanny, as it is truly one of my most cherished choices in life.

Sober psychic yogi; Mother of Cats; lover of Riot Grrrl, Battle Star Galactica, bubble teas, and all things French.