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I'm Jealous of my Nanny

Katie, I have a confession. I'm jealous of my nanny!

My nanny is wonderful. I love her, my kids love her, even my parents and in-laws love her. I work long hours at work and travel frequently, as a result, I miss out on a lot of my children's lives. In addition, the time I do spend with them doesn't seem to be well spent. My children never behave as well for me as they behave for my nanny. They complain too that they miss the nanny and all of the fun activities she comes up with! I admit I'm not particularly crafty or creative. I'm tired of being second best to my children. Or even third best with my youngest who is such a Daddy's girl that I'm invisible if he's in the room.

I know my jealousy has nothing to do with my nanny, but I am starting to resent her presence in my home. I think she senses my resentment. I don't know what to do! I like working, I have no desire to stay home with my children full time. But I want a new nanny.

- Frustrated and Tired Mom

Dear Frustrated and Tired,

I think I can see a bit of every working mom in your note. There is a strange pressure we put on ourselves and others to be the best all the time at everything. It can feel like you are failing at everything, and putting your attention on one means you neglect the other.

First of all, that is not true. You are not failing. Being a bad@ss at work doesn't automatically make you a failure as a mother. Enjoying or finding satisfaction in your job doesn't mean you don't love your kids as much as other moms.

I have nannied for many children. I have worked with many parents. All kids go through phases of preferring one adult in their life over another, and this often changes many times in a year. It isn't personal and has absolutely no bearing on the amount of love your kids hold for you. Most kids see their mother as their safe place. It's an instinctual connection that starts in the womb. They trust in your love and thus feel safe to express the negative emotions they've been bottling up all day. There's a reason the sick and wounded cry out for their mothers. Just her presence is healing.

I can remember many times taking out my anger and sadness on my mom. I often regretted it as I was doing it, but she is my mom. She is my rock, my lodestone, my morals, and my safe place. Her presence brought me back to equilibrium.

In my career, I have had children push their parents away to leap into my arms., cry they wanted me over another adult, and try to follow me home at the end of the day. I love that I can build deep emotional connections with children, but a nanny is temporary. A mom is forever. I could never and would never want to replace a parent. Your nanny doesn't want to replace you, she wants to help you. Can I suggest, maybe ask her for advice on discipline? Confide in her a little, without blame or jealousy, how you feel. Act like partners and brainstorm together. Can you plan fun outings alone with each child individually? How about having the children "mail" you artwork or letters while you are gone? You too can mail or bring them a note during travel.

I get it. I really do. It is so hard being a parent. There is so much external and internal judgment. Embrace what you do well. You have a successful career, wonderful kids, a great nanny. You love your kids. Maybe you are the best pancake chef or pretend monster. No one can possibly be everything, but you are pretty amazing. Celebrate that, and model to your children how to be happy with who you are, and how to love others for who they are.

Forgive yourself. Let yourself feel your negative emotions. It's ok to be jealous. It's ok to be tired. It's ok to be scared and overwhelmed. Acknowledge these feelings and forgive yourself. Love what you are.


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