When I was returning to work after Charlie was born I was lucky. MM and I run our own business in recruitment so returning to work though had its challenges, what I didn’t have to worry about was negotiating the terms with my employer. I am my own employer. Though these days I feel a bit more like the PA and I report to a nearly 3 year old who seems to enjoy a more autocratic style of leadership. Cute but bossy.
So even though my return to work was relatively easy, I know it can be hard for many parents and in reality, I’m mostly referring to how hard mothers have it when they try to return to work. Negotiating hours, expectations, logistics and wondering if it really is possible to leave the house without weetbix in your hair and something sticky on your shirt. I’m ashamed to admit that pre Charlie I had little understanding for just how tough this whole working mother business balance bullshit is. Worse, during my IVF years when all I wanted was a baby, I was a bit of a bitch. My tolerance to the problem women faced was low. Resentful and jealous I could only think “these women have children, don’t they realise how lucky they are?” (she admits as she hangs her head in shame.) My attitude was appalling but in my defence you only know what you know and fortunately I now know without question that this piss poor attitude, or rather ignorance, never impacted on my work and it certainly didn’t have an impact on my relationship with my candidates. It was just my internal crap that I had to deal with. I may have been infertile but I was still a professional. It’s just that I couldn’t see how it could be so hard. Who needs cake when you can have humble pie?
When I returned to work my friend, Mel was preparing to return at the same time so we came up with this idea that we would share a nanny. It was a bloody genius idea and at the time I can’t remember what our expectations were but now, two years into the arrangement we are still a bit surprised at how great it has worked.
Our first nanny left us after about 10 months to pursue her nursing studies. We knew this was to be the case when she started and as she prepared to leave we were nervous about whether we’d be so fortunate to have someone as good as her. Enter Larissa. Or “Rissa” as referred to by her charges. 15 months later we are back looking for Nanny number 3 as Rissa gets ready to pursue overseas travel plans. Sadly, days wiping spaghetti off the floor aren’t as appealing as skiing in Canada. Go figure.
Hiring your very own Mary Poppins is a big responsibility but even as an experienced Recruiter this kind of role is on a different level. Entrusting someone to look after your own child, to care for them, to keep them safe, to make them laugh and to hold them close. You invite them into your own home, give them the keys to your front door and full access to your tea bags and chocolate stash. Going to work each day knowing that Charlie is cared for is all I really want but what I get, what he has, is so much more. There are walks to the park and trips to the city on the bus. There is easter craft and homemade mother’s day cards, pictures, paintings and play dough. Games and puzzles, gardening and bug collecting. Lessons in sharing, time in time out. It’s exhausting work and yet RIssa never looks exhausted. I love that she hugs and kisses the boys and they love and kiss her back. They feel secure, I feel reassured. Our very own Mary Poppins. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
No one can love Charlie the way that I can, the way that MM does and the way that our families do but when you need someone to step in you sure as heck want someone who comes close. It’s about having a personal connection with them and a level of trust that has no boundaries. In our case there is mutual respect and whilst I fully expect Rissa to make decisions and do what needs to be done to get through the day I also love that she respects my need for routine. She’s pretty chilled like that and given my propensity for being a bit of a control freak she just runs with it. I’m sure that there are some things that happen on nanny watch that stay on nanny watch and I’m cool with that. Still, I love that everyone now and then when I’m sitting at my desk wrangling a fee negotation with a client my phone pings and it’s a message from Rissa with accompanying photos of the day’s activities. I’m somewhat mesmerised by how well the boys respond to her especially when there are tears over a fire truck. Shit gets real when there are two toddlers and just one fire truck. Rissa handles it with grace and humour. I handle it with bribery. Let it be said that coming home to a toddler covered in paint and with pasta sauce in his hair is a good day at the office and it’s hard to feel guilty about having to return to work when you know that what’s happening at home is all fun and games. Literally.
Thank you Rissa. Please come back anytime. The weather is lovely here in Australia.