I’m a child of a family of six children. Living in Germany, my mother, who had chosen to set her career aside in favor of us children, had no help what so ever from a cleaning lady or better from a nanny. In fact, we grew up with household work being divided between us according to age and preference. We loved our responsibilities. As for raising us, my mother and father did it all by themselves and they succeeded.
When I got married at the age of 22, I wanted to do things exactly the way my parents did. So with the arrival of my first child, I took a secret vow as a young mother to be the one and only person responsible for the needs of my baby. At that time I used to live in Saudi Arabia. I had taken a maternity leave from work to take care of my baby, my husband, the huge house we had just moved into, my daily routine, my newly established social life and to somehow take care of myself. I thought I had it all under control. I soon realized that I had set my margins – as a wife, housewife and mother – too high. The result: a terrible mess! Here is when my husband and I decided to hire a stay-in nanny. By time she gained my whole trust and I threw my baby-concerning-vows overboard. With the arrival of my second child, she had become a part of the family. My daughters got attached to her as much as they were to me. I got back to work and to my social life. And yet I kept a close eye on how much of a mother to my children I would want her to be. When being blessed with a great nanny, you take the risk of stepping over the very fine line between staying a full-time mom and turning into a part-time mama.
Growing up I had never heard of something called “spending quality time with your child”. The generation of my parents and older did what they knew was parenting. Nowadays we need books and guides, sometimes even counseling on how to deal with our children. We are not talking of half a dozen of children – sometimes it is even the single child that troubles our existence. Walking through the club I find many young mothers enjoying a cup of coffee while chit-chatting with their friends. They look beautiful in their clothes and their great hairdos. Many of them reach their original weight shortly after giving birth. Truly amazing! And yet, I never see them playing in the sand with their children. Once I asked a friend of mine, whose child was suffering a stomachache, what he had eaten throughout the day. This is when she turned to the nanny, who was sitting with the child on her lap at a nearby table, asking her about the food chain of her boy. And here it hit me! What level of motherhood have we reached when we cannot even list what our children have eaten the whole day? Do we truly know what they love to play without consulting the nanny? What is it our toddlers whisper into our nannies’ ears when they comfort them after a tantrum? In school, I once asked my class whom they would show their artwork first, once they get home. Nine out of twenty-one children named their nanny. That’s a huge number. So here is my plea to all mothers out there: your babies will outgrow their diapers, their terrible twos and their unstructured sleeps. Grasp the years that run by too fast and enjoy your children. Carry them instead of your Gucci bags because only your children will reward you for life!