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Nannies and grannies and daycare. Oh my!

August 14, 2012
Logo design by Christine Hepner

My husband’s 4-week, full-time parenting stint was coming to an end in mid-October, 2011, so we had a big decision to make about childcare: Should I quit my despised job and be a stay-at-home mom, or should I stubbornly stay at work and look into other childcare arrangements?

I desperately wanted to quit, and I began each work day thinking that today is the day I just hand in my resignation and walk out. In fact, that thought was the only thing that got me out the door and into the office most days. Don’t get me wrong, I like to work and had loved my job until mid-2010, when my team fell apart. I would have followed most of my colleagues right out the door to a new job, and in fact my former boss asked me to come work for him, but I couldn’t switch jobs risking my insurance coverage. Also, I would not be entitled to any maternity leave for at least 12 months at a new job. So financially, I was forced to stay in a job where I was no longer welcome, and it was the most unhappy I’ve ever been professionally. After F was born, I could have resigned and looked for a new job, but let’s just say I’m about as stubborn as they come. I had suffered so much for so long and rumor had it that massive layoffs were coming, so I was not going to go anywhere.

So, staying at home was out. The grandma option had a few drawbacks. My mother and D’s mother both live in other states and are both in their, well, let’s say “golden years.” Both are strong, vital, thank goodness mostly healthy women, and yes, anything can happen to anyone at any age. I could just as easily have some sort of health emergency when I’m alone with F as my mother, I guess. And yet, I could not walk out the door of my 4th-floor walk-up apartment leaving my mother alone with my infant son for a 9 or 10 hour day. I could hear the 6 pm news teaser in my head….”Moronic 51-year-old mother leaves infant with ancient grandmother. Details at 6….” They’d interview people on street, and someone would surely say, “This is why old ladies should not have babies.”

Not wishing to be local news fodder, I considered the next option: private daycare. The main advantage of daycare is the safety of numbers. You are not leaving your infant alone in the care of a virtual stranger, and it’s up to the daycare facility to cover for a care provider who calls in sick. However, it turns out I could send F to my college to get his undergraduate degree for about the same price as one year of daycare on the Upper West Side. And yes, I went to college in the dark ages. I like to tell the IT people I’ve worked with that my first computer programming class was in COBOL, and I had to punch a deck of cards and run it through a compiler. And I know the cost of my college degree now is a lot more than the $10,000 a year in tuition I paid in 1982, but the thought of paying $35,000 to $40,000 a year for daycare shocked me.

Nannies in Manhattan can run anywhere from $15 an hour for someone you find on Craigslist to well over $100,000 a year with benefits included, so I’m told. D and I have a dear friend who is a professional household manager, and I know she makes more than I do. She works for very high income families and her job is more than just childcare. From the stories I’ve heard, she deserves every penny she makes. But we needed to find someone in between the craigslist option and the out of our price range nanny option.

I called an agency in Manhattan and explained my situation. My mother was going to stay with us most of the week. I needed a nanny who could work part-time since D was working afternoons 2 days a week. I also needed someone who could handle sitting in a tiny apartment all day long with my baby and my mother. It could be an awkward situation, two capable adult women, one baby, no other room to get away to for some privacy. Winter was coming and getting up and down the four flights with the baby and his stroller was not going to be easy. I needed someone very special.

Fortunately I found her! The agency sent me our darling Lynette. She and my mother hit it off immediately. She adored F and he adored her. Most mornings when she arrived, he would see her and smile and lunge away from me and into her arms. She was flexible with her hours so that we could save on costs. I had complete confidence in her, and I actually realized something that shocked me. With my baby completely safe in the care of his grandmother and his nanny, I could go to work and RELAX! I could go out to lunch for an hour and shop or get my nails done or take a long walk in the park with absolutely no feelings of guilt, because I was, after all, at work! Of course, I had the moments all new working moms have, I guess. I was in the elevator one day looking for my access card to get in through the security door, and I pulled three pacifiers out of my pocketbook and dropped one on the floor. I called home 4 or 5 times a day that first week. Everyone worries, right? But, for the first time in a long time, I felt a little bit like “me” again, and it felt good-ish….

Next time: Are you his nanny?

Thanks for following and reading! I’d love to hear your story of IVF. Please leave your comments below.

© 2012

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