Mothering Other People’s Children

Since I cannot use my teaching license here in Saskatchewan, I have been nannying since we moved. It is a completely different way to interact with children than teaching or working at a daycare. I few years ago I taught three year olds at a childcare center and I loved each of my little students and planning activities for us to do together. So it broke my heart any time I watched parents come in and either verbally bully their children about accidentally peeing their pants or continue a conversation on their cell phone while their child asked for help putting on her coat. I want to stress that these parenting techniques were not always the case and that the majority of the parents of the children in my class were wonderful. I always thought of these kids as mine though because I saw them for the majority of the day and had grown attached after playing with them for the three years that I worked there. When I saw parents ignoring or guilting their children, I wanted to take kids home and keep them for myself to love and remind that they are good little people.

Now that I am working as a nanny and in other people’s homes I have a different feeling about how I mother other people’s children. Over the summer I worked with a stay at home mother of four – ages 12, 4, 3, and a newborn. I did not feel like snatching these children up and keeping them for myself, though I may have loved them more than most of my students at the childcare center. Their mother is a super-mom who can cook, garden, and talk her children through tantrums in a way that I wish I could. I was not jealous of the relationship this mother had with her children, but reminded of the mother I hope to be someday and a little sad that I was not in that place yet. I understand that Jason and I are far from financially ready to have children of our own.

My two closest friends each have beautiful children. One was pregnant with her son while we lived together in college. Her son is now five. I have watched him grow from a baby to a kindergartner, convincing myself that he was partially mine. My other friend and her husband recently had a beautiful baby girl. She has her mother’s eyes and her father’s forehead. Being this far away, all I can do is click through facebook pictures to see how much they are growing while I am away.

I currently take care of two toddler boys – N and F. They are a handful: they are messy, they are in diapers, they are two of the most adorable boys I have ever since. Everyday I am left alone to cook, clean, and play with these two boys. I make sure they try new things and are learning everyday. I take them on picnics, to the playground, and on adventures and take pictures of everything to put together in an album for their parents. Since N is 2.5 years old and starting to show interest in the potty, I have done hours of research on potty training and tried to recall everything I could remember from my time at the childcare center. Yesterday was my first attempt with N at potty training since he showed interest after his bath. I let him run around the house in just his t-shirt all day and he tried to go every 15 minutes. Though there were three pee puddles on the floor over the course of the day, I was elated when he finally went on the potty! To celebrate we made a potty chart on which he gets stickers every time he goes. I texted everyone I know about the good news – N went pee-pee on the potty!

With all of the children I have worked with, they are never as excited to see me as they are to see their parents. Of course, I do not expect them to be, but it doesn’t stop me from wanting the tearful good-bye that happens every morning when Mommy goes to work and the elated welcome Daddy receives when he returns in the evening. The kids are ready to shove me out the door as if the art projects and ass wiping that filled our day meant nothing.

I can’t imagine not working with children – whether that be young children as a preschool teacher/nanny or teenagers while I am teaching – they are some of my favorite people. I know I have time to have children of my own, I am only 25, but I can’t help but glance at the baby clothes every time I go shopping and wish I had a reason to put it in my cart.

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