Our resident advice-giver-outer Jenny True provides shouty, full-hearted answers to your niggling questions about pregnancy and parenthood in her column What The Actual. Warning: This is not a f*cking baby-and-me singalong, this is about yelling into the cosmos and actually hearing something back, sometimes in the form of an all-caps swear. Jenny isn't an ~expert~, but she has a lot of experience being outraged on your behalf. To submit your questions to Jenny, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
My kid (almost 3) cries whenever we leave her. I attribute the separation anxiety to the fact that we fired our caregiver six months ago without warning or (truthfully) explaining it to her. We thought we were making the departure easier for her, but I think it just confused her and made her reluctant to trust anyone who isn't us (if she even trusts us at this point).
Someone new just started, and when left alone with her, my daughter screams for over an hour or until we go in, whichever comes first. I'm afraid the new caregiver, who is warm and nurturing and all the things you want, will quit or that one of us will keep having to be home with them. Do kids get over this? What's the best way to proceed? The way things are right now isn't sustainable.
(Note: I am certain the new caregiver is not being harsh or otherwise inappropriate. We've had that before, which was terrible, but that's fortunately not an issue now.)
IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU'RE NOT LEAVING THE HOUSE WITH THE NEW CAREGIVER. YOU KNOW THIS DOESN'T WORK, RIGHT?
I was a caregiver for six years. This is what it's like to care for other people's kids: COMPLICATED. Some parents are dope and leave you food and tip at holidays and speak to you as if they respect you since you're taking care of their children. I WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND BEING RUDE TO DOMESTIC WORKERS YOU KNOW WE'RE ALONE IN YOUR HOUSE ALL DAY RIGHT. (One nanny I met said an affluent client once suggested she not be paid when the baby was asleep, since she "wasn't doing anything." "I'll just pop down to the pub then," said the nanny.)
I was a pretty decent caregiver. I sang endless rounds of "The Rainbow Connection," I played tickle tag even though I really fucking hate being tickled, and I did not shake a single baby! On the other hand, here is a list of things I did wrong, which is not exhaustive so as not to incriminate myself:
- Ate ice cream that did not belong to me out of the container with a spoon.
- Stole a cool plastic necklace from a three-year-old, then brought it back the next day because guilt.
- Microwaved my lunch, which was sardines, so the condo smelled like microwaved sardines.
- Obsessively checked my email on family's computer and then deleted browser history but family were computer whizzes and figured out some other way I still don't understand that I was obsessively checking email and politely asked me to stop obsessively checking email when I was supposed to be playing tea party with their daughter.
Also, it took me years to stop making the joke to my clients that I was "making all my mistakes on other people's kids." I thought it was hilarious. Now that I have a kid I understand this was not hilarious.
I understand how painful it is to hear your kid cry.
To a one, every kid who cried during goodbyes stopped IMMEDIATELY IF NOT SOONER once the parents had left. The parents who stayed home to "just work in the other room" or hesitated upon leaving and tried to comfort their kids made it SO MUCH FUCKING WORSE JESUS JUST FUCKING LEAVE SO I CAN GET BACK TO EATING YOUR CHOCOLATE CHIPS BY THE HANDFUL AND WEIGHING MYSELF ON YOUR SCALE.
So: TRY LEAVING THE HOUSE.
Also: LET THE NANNY TAKE THE KID TO THE PARK.
Now: I may have taken care of other people's kids for six years, but I've only been a mom for six months. This is how it feels to give other moms advice: COMPLICATED. Mostly, I understand how painful it is to hear your kid cry. When my son was 3 months old, he had a meltdown in gridlock on the San Francisco Bay Bridge. We had to pull onto a shoulder, surrounded by hundreds of cars, and when we finally came to a stop, I nearly ripped his onesie in my desperation to get him into my arms. My desperation was held only slightly in check by the knowledge that I shouldn't take him out of his car seat before we'd stopped moving. I am so sorry your daughter won't stop crying.
Last year, I got pregnant at the age of 39. Five months later, I moved in with my boyfriend. Three weeks later, I married my boyfriend. I was working two jobs and doing 90 percent of the baby preparation YES I WAS, HONEY, COMING HOME WITH A PIZZA CUTTER INSTEAD OF DIAPERS IS NOT PREPARING FOR A BABY. I had to-do lists coming out of my ass.
I also was taking public transportation to work, which is unpleasant even when you don't have a 40-pound tummy goiter pressing on your butthole. One rainy morning, when my feet hurt, my ass hurt, and the last of my sex appeal was being choked by a neck roll, I got off the train, walked into a Panera Bread Company, sat in a window seat, and cried in public. Then I called in sick for the first time in four years and went home for the day.
You've had to make a lot of hard choices lately to protect your daughter, and she's still adjusting. She's crying in public, and SHE WILL BE HEARD. She needs a back massage, a hot bath, a glass of carbonated water with a splash of orange juice BUT NOT TOO MUCH THO and someone to tell her it's all going to be OK and distract her with some totally wrong jokes.
To your original, delicately phrased question, paraphrased here: WILL OUR NANNY QUIT BECAUSE OUR KID IS CRYING?
No. Your nanny is just fine.
I hung in there even after a 10-year-old snapped a pencil in half and told me he would do the same to me, although I scared the shit out of him by dragging him to a time-out chair by his wrist and calling his parents. OH HELL NO.
THIS SITUATION IS TEMPORARY. IF LEAVING THE HOUSE AND GETTING YOUR KID OUTSIDE DOESN'T WORK, CALL YOUR PEDIATRICIAN. YOU GOT THIS.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.