Monday, February 4, 2013

Mistaken for Mommy: How to Respond

Working as a full-time nanny with an infant presents the issue of being mistaken for 'Mommy' when out and about. I have experienced this first-handedly, as a nanny in Beverly Hills for a family ever since the little babe was three months old. He's now coming up on 10 months, and with that, the familiarity of us being seen out and about multiple times a day has assumed the regular belief that I am his mommy.

Having been stopped on the sidewalks of Rodeo Drive and nearby streets more than daily to receive comments in regards to me being his mother, I generally respond with a polite smile and say, "Thank you, but I am his nanny." I understand that being 23 years old and walking the same streets daily with the same baby, it is easy to assume that this perhaps could be my child. My own mom, though, came up with a brilliant idea to create t-shirts that say, "Nope! I'm the nanny." She executed her plan and sent a few t-shirts with the message in big, sparkly lettering. You would think that would help the situation, yes? Nope!

With the shirt on, I was still asked five times if he was my baby and referred to as “Mommy” by people passing by us on the sidewalk. One woman came up to me in Whole Foods and said, “I can tell just by how you hold him that you are an amazing mommy. He’s a beautiful baby.” I said, “Thank you so much, but I am his nanny,” with a smile. She responded, “No way. There’s no way.” I laughed and said, “Thank you; I take that as a compliment.” She said, “I bet you hear it often.” If only she knew how often! 10+ times a day out on our walks around The Hills. But I do take it as a compliment, very sincerely so. If mistaken for 'Mommy' by an outsider, a nanny must be doing something right!

The situation got sticky about a week ago, when the babe himself said "Mama" for the first time while I was feeding him lunch. I got scared, so I rushed him to his mom to tell her, but she was in her room on a closed-door phone call, which generally translates to, "Do not disturb unless it's urgent," so I waited. The baby's father, however, was right there to witness as he continued to say, "Mama." I avoided the reality of the fact that he was saying this to me. This is because the way I see it, when I have a child, and if that child is ever to call anyone "Mom" other than myself, especially for the first time, it would break my heart. I couldn't let that happen, or be responsible for saying it did, so I pretended it didn't.

The baby continued to say, "Mama" blatantly in a way that was directed towards me despite my efforts to make it seem otherwise. I even tried to teach him how to say, "Brittney," although I knew without teeth and at nine months old, that'd be a long shot. His mom did a bit of research to see if he really thinks I am his mom. She was comforted by the results provided, which read that he is probably just discovering the consonant “M” and playing around with it. This put me at ease, as well, because the last thing that I want to do is confuse the little man. However, I do understand that as he spends a good majority of his time during the week with me, a slight bit of confusion is natural, and it will pass as all things do.

This brings me to the appropriateness of kissing on babies for whom we, as nannies, care for regularly. I personally shy away from the idea, even with the fact that the parents have given me permission to kiss on him the way that they do. I feel like it crosses a line, or more-so a professional boundary, that I don't feel comfortable doing. While I absolutely adore the baby, and I take care of and love him as if he were my own, the reality is that he is not my own. My job as the nanny is to keep everything at a healthy balance so that he knows this, as well. Are any other nannies facing this same predicament of how much is too much? Or do any other parents have feelings towards this topic of affection with nannies and babies, or if infants should be seen in a different light as young children in this respect?

I'd be ecstatic to hear other opinions on this subject matter, as I know it's one of many perspectives. Please feel free to leave you comments and questions below! Let's get a conversation started.

Thank you, always, for reading! It means the world, sincerely.



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