When I tell people that I’m a nanny, I often receive a few stock responses.
From other young women my age, I hear, “Oh cool! I always thought it would be fun to be a nanny.”
From people who know that my husband is in school, I often get the sense that they worry for us that I’m not in a higher paying position.
And I was once even met with pity. While talking to a priest at our church’s fish fry a few weeks ago, he asked what I studied in school (I was wearing my Butler sweatshirt.) Of course by answering that I studied Spanish and history, the follow-up question of what I do was posed. When I told him that I am a nanny, he asked if it was because of lack of any other opportunities.
Initially, his reaction upset me. I had to realize that he most likely meant this in a complimentary way, implying that a smart, college graduate could hold a well paying corporate position, a position out in the community, or a position in the educational system, as I did.
The thing is, I tried out life with an office job. Yes, I was only there for five months, but they were not my favorite five months. I did not like being at my desk for 40 hours a week, almost all of those hours spent communicating via phone and email. I was much happier working as an instructional assistant in an elementary school because, 1) I got to work with children, 2) I felt like my work had a more positive impact on those I worked with, and 3) I wasn’t staring at a computer screen until my eyes burned.
Oh, and I laughed. A lot. I enjoyed life. Any time I work with children, I am more light-hearted and lively.
No, I am not making six figures as a nanny, not even close. But what I am gaining outweighs that for me and my family. I feel respected and honored that a family would choose to build a relationship with me and entrust their daughter’s well being to me when they’re not there. I laugh a lot, and do not take myself too seriously – you can’t with a 6-year-old, or neither of you will have any fun. At the same time, I ensure that I live up to the trust that these parents have placed in me. My schedule allows me enough free time to devote to my family, and my other passions, while I see some of my friends already struggling with to find a work-life balance. I’ll never get a fancier title or a huge raise with this job, but I think that only encourages me to continue with the simple lifestyle my husband and I are constructing for our family. I don’t need a corner office to feel accomplished.When I tell people that I’m a nanny, I also tell them that I love what I do, I find purpose in what I do, and that both the family I work for and my family gets what they need.