Nanny Drama For Yo Mama

Nanny Drama For Yo Mama! 

Been a while since I last blogged. I guess it’s because life has been happening, and by been happening I really mean beeeen happening. As you may know, I am a Mom to a bouncy, happy, scratch Mommy now and then 20 month old little boy. Well Mommy diaries sure aren’t easy and I kind of knew this journey would not be a walk in the park, but truthfully, there sure is nothing on this planet that can prepare you for the emotional roller coaster called parenthood.

After my husband and I stopped trying to be rock stars thinking we could handle looking after a new born all by ourselves we decided we were losing our minds, mainly from the lack of sleep and colic outbursts and decided to hunt for a nanny. Initially, this was not tough, we spoke to our amazing domestic worker “Diana”, who then offered us a family member of hers to come and help out. That worked out so well, but sadly after a couple of months the perfect nanny turned out to be an unreliable nightmare after she just absconded from work. This left me angry, confused and in an emotional wreck. I mean, who was going to look after my little sunshine when I had to run off to work? We then decided it was important that we started the search for a brand new nanny…this is when the horrors, or comedy show began, whichever way you look at it.

I had heard from my best friend that the best place to start is at a nanny agency, there apparently you would find a reliable person who would take their job seriously and most importantly a person trained to look after and care for your child. So my husband and I bundled up the boy and off we went to our first agency.

It was in the South of Johannesburg, South Africa run by an elderly lady whom I was told was rather helpful. I arrived at a humble home with a gigantic yard that was rather empty with a huge metal bin in the center. We knocked on the door, and one lady opened the door. In this house were about 6 to 10 women all just kind of hanging around. I noticed one washed dishes and the other was cooking on the stove. The rest tried really hard to look “busy” but they all could not help but stare at my husband and I. Now that was awkward. We were guided by one of the ladies through the kitchen to the lounge area. Here we found the “agent lady” let’s call her Mama Thandi for now, and she was seated in the room. Mama Thandi is a rather large old lady with very few teeth and the ones that are there did not look very kept to say the least. She had on a head scarf and her feet were elevated as if they were sore and a brown blanket lay over her feet. She was very friendly and smiled often while calling me Carrie, a name some call me. I explained to her the challenges I faced with my previous nanny and insisted that I needed a lady would was younger that 35, reliable, can speak and understand English, and most importantly someone who was Christian and could share our religious values. I also explained that this person would be a live in nanny, someone who would live in those with us, share a room with my son and would get certain agreed days off ect. She then called for a particular lady to come out.

She was a fair lady from Lesotho, let’s call her Anna, who seemed very shy and reserved. As she sat she crossed her legs at the ankles and rubbed her hands together as she looked down, seeming very respectful and humble. I noticed she had a lazy eye or a weak left eye as we commenced with the interview. The more we asked her questions the more we felt that she would be the one. After a few minutes of several questions, we asked Mama Thandi if there was anyone else she thought we should interview, she said this lady was the only one meeting our specs. I then took my son and put him in her arms, and to my surprise the boy did not freak out and throw a tantrum. He seemed rather comfortable with her presence. Hubby, baby and I asked for a minute and stepped outside the house into that massive garden to discuss our findings. We agreed on the spot that this lady was the one. The only question we had now was “when will she start”?

We went back into the house and told Mama Thandi that we like Anna and would love her to start as soon as she can. Her response, “Sure, Anna get your bags”!. Anna promptly stood up and walked to a bedroom where she collected a small black bag. As she did that Mama Thandi requested we pay her a certain fee for her placement services and promised to call me to check up on how Anna was doing. Before we left she gave Anna a pep talk about how she should not disappoint her and if she breaks anything she must speak up and always remember to be respectful. As soon as we got home my son cried none stop for several hours refusing for Anna to touch him. This was rather strange as he did not mind her initially when he met her at the agency and now just flood gates of tears…this worried me a little.

After just over 4 months with us Christmas time had dawned and we obviously had to give Anna time off to go home for the holidays…December pay in hand along with a handsome bonus and might I add a handsome increase in salary, Anna made her way home. This is were it all starts to go wrong…

The New year kicked in and either our generosity was seen as foolishness or arrogance was the order of the day, but Anna on the day she was supposed to return was a no show… This was disappointing and just not fair considering all the compromises we had made to accommodate her. We had banked on her return so that my husband and I could also take a short break before the working calendar began. Instead we spent our much deserved time off hopping from one nanny agency to the next. We endure copious hours of scrolling through newspapers looking for possible candidates, and making several amounts of calls to friends and family trying to get a referral on someone to help us.

This was by far was thee most stressful part of everything, having various strangers moving in and out of our home, as we continued to try and find “the one”. I met some of the most insane, random and down right rude people ever. Let me indulge you in some of the characters I met along the way..

First there was, let’s call her “Eva”. We decided since the agency world was not really working for us let’s check Gumtree (classifieds). This is where we found Eva. Eva was very sweet and respectful. She smiled and laughed a lot through the interview and seemed determined to make this work. We employed her on the spot, only to discover a day later her visa to South Africa was expiring in a few days and she had no work permit. We had to let her go.

Then came “Molly”, she seemed like the perfect fit… But that went South when she consistently challenged me on my instructions and opting to do what she wants. She also did some hazards things around the house that left my son vulnerable. Her lack of experience with toddlers became apparent and her seemingly repulsive attitude was getting worse by the day. After several run in’s we decided to part ways after just under 2 weeks.

Destitute and frustrated we decided to try the agency way again. This time we met “Phemelo”. She too seemed like a nice lady but there were a few things that bothered me about her. She would have these bouts when she would sit and stare into thin air for hours. It was as if she was thinking of someone or missing someone. Her absent minded behavior concerned me as she needed to always be alert to look after my son. A few days later she said her sister passed and she had to go home to be with her family. I gave her money, wished her all the best and we parted ways. My gut still tells me her sister passed before we employed her and that’s why the one weekend she returned from her weekend off bald headed (in certain African culture you shave your head when there is a passing of a loved one). This too for me also explained her episodes of staring into thin air.

Then there was “Nomsa”. She too was from an agency, a different one from Phemelo. Note, I never returned to the same agency twice. Once bitten twice shy indeed. Nomsa was much younger than the rest but also rather strange in her demeanor. Her energy was just weird, there were moments she was chatty and others where she just said little to nothing. She lasted just under a week, this is because she mentioned to me one day that her feet were swollen and she thought she could not continue with the job. It seemed she had a prehistoric health condition because she seemed very concerned. We too parted ways amicably.

Today I have employed my old housekeeper of many years. To us she is like family and loves my family. I am thankful that she actually is willing to live in and help me look after my family. We also decided to take my son to crèche. That would stimulate him and also give “Diana” a little bit of space in the day too. She is thee most expensive option from the lot but worth every penny considering the connection and history.

Lessons learned? Yes, plenty… Firstly trust your gut, secondly don’t compromise and lastly forgive yourself if you make mistakes. Correct them and move on. Pray over your journey and know that in the end with patience, tolerance and compromise the right person will will soon come. For some its a walk in the park and for others like me…its a challenging journey.

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