Dear Is This Normal,
My husband and I both have demanding jobs. One might say mine is more demanding, with off-hours calls to other continents, international travel, and a higher intensity work environment. Yet, our nanny, whom we generally adore, assumes I will be the one to plan birthday parties, bow out of work to attend dance class, be the primary decision maker on all questions related to our daughters, take the girls to the doctor….you get it.
Somehow my brain’s first response to these scenarios is guilt (of course) because, no, I can’t skip my five calls this morning to go to story time with them, and no, I don’t plan on throwing a Pinterest-inspired birthday bash for my toddler. I don’t have the time or energy! Is it normal that my nanny, who sees me running around like a madwoman to keep up with work and all the demands of parenting on a daily basis, treats me as if my job is an optional activity?
I Won’t Be Shamed for Being a Working Mom
Dear Working Mom,
UGH. Ok, I want to first say: GO ON WITH YOUR BAD SELF. I know this working mom thing isn’t easy, not by a long shot, so the fact that you’re doing it and succeeding at it deserves an immense amount of credit. I am also very intimately acquainted with the working mom guilt you speak of, and it’s the worst. Working moms, whether they work by choice or necessity, are doing what they need to do for themselves and their families. And rather than shame us for it, it’d be SUPER great if people could be more supportive and just worry about their own selves, yes? Yes.
Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let’s talk about this nanny situation! This is really really indicative of a broader, societal problem where people assume that women—because we are women—will just automatically take the reins when it comes to parenting, home life, and anything kid-related. And that is not the case in so many families, especially modern families with at least one working parent. We went in on those kids 50/50, so dammit, we’re splitting the work.
I don’t think your nanny means any harm by it, but sadly, I would say it’s normal to assume that the mother will be the one to drop what she’s doing to tend to the kids, or plan the parties, or call out sick when their kid is sick. Perhaps your nanny has some deeply-held beliefs about motherhood and working moms, and has a hard time separating that from the work she does for your family. Or perhaps, she just assumes that (again) because you’re a mom, this stuff falls under your umbrella. All things considered, if this is the only issue you have with her, you may be inclined to let it slide. But that doesn’t mean you and your husband shouldn’t address it with her.
If you and your husband are on the same page as far as handling kid stuff as it comes up, then it’s time to have a sit down with your nanny and get her on the same page, too. Is it possible that she just doesn’t know that he can do a lot of the stuff she assumes you should do? Because he can! He can totally take the girls to dance (dance dads are awesome), and he can 100% take them to doctor’s appointments.
It might be time to gently remind your nanny that your daughters have two capable, involved parents, and that rather than single you out for this kind of stuff, she should start alerting BOTH of you and letting you guys hash out the details. Some days, you will be the one around to go to story time. But their dad will be around on some days, too, and not only is it burdensome on you to put it all on your plate, it’s actually kind of a slight to dad that she doesn’t even consider him in these situations.
Finally, I want to just say: screw the working mom guilt. Screw it! Don’t feel guilty for working, for enjoying your work, or for putting a lot of yourself into your work. There’s nothing shameful about providing for your family, and there’s nothing shameful about enjoying your job. You’re juggling a demanding job while raising your kids and you should be incredibly proud of that. It’s not easy, not by a long shot, but if it’s worth it to you, then it’s exactly what you should be doing.
No Shame in Our Game,
Is This Normal