I just lost my ninth nanny. I go through nannies the way some women go through men. Nine nannies in seven years seems suspect. Some wonder if we’re secretly beating the nannies or keeping them chained inside the playroom. Why else would we have had such a spectacular run of bad luck in keeping childcare?
Our latest casualty is Stephanie, an attractive, athletic, marathon running Mormon who has been with us for a year. My kids adore her, she even took them camping a few weeks ago. Always anxious that I’m going to lose a good nanny, I tried to keep the love alive by throwing in job perks including free gym membership and tutoring. (I rewrote all of her English papers last semester.) I even indulged Stephanie in her various and pricey diets – from the all organic cleansing one to Weight Watchers. And this summer, knowing how Stephanie likes the outdoors, I got her a gig at my children’s day camp. After a raise and the promise of a roundtrip ticket back to Utah during Christmas, Stephanie committed to staying with us another year. We were thrilled. And then, my nightmare replayed itself, Stephanie got poached.
At 10 pm, two nights ago Stephanie announced to me that she would be leaving in a couple of weeks because a mom in a neighboring, tonier town offered her more money and THREE roundtrip tickets to Utah each year.
First I was shocked; then I got angry. Strangely I was more peeved at the mom who poached my nanny than at Stephanie herself. I see Stephanie as a kid who is being practical and is trying to put herself through school. At least this is what I tried to convince myself in between spurts of crying to my husband about how our kids are going to be crushed when Stephanie leaves. I also felt like a total sucker. I was buying her organic raspberries in November! While I felt betrayed by Stephanie and nauseated by the thought of finding someone new and integrating them into our chaotic family, I was seething that another mom – for the second time – had poached one of my nannies. About a year ago my nanny Sally was spotted on the playground by a predator mom and offered more money to leave us. But Sally didn’t even have the courage or decency to tell me she got a new job. She simply moved out on a Friday night without our knowing and never said goodbye to my kids. It was devastating.
I don’t know how moms could do this to each other. There should be a non-poaching pact among us. Stealing another woman’s nanny is like sleeping with her husband – maybe even worse. Robbing a working mother of good childcare could more quickly destroy the fabric of a family than a one night stand. I’d seriously sacrifice my husband for a fling faster than I would want to lose a good nanny to another family.
My nanny dramas are legendary. There was Vanessa, the Mexican hottie who we flew in from Mexico City and showed up dripping in Chanel. Within a few weeks, she contracted Scabies or some other itchy ailment and after three unsuccessful visits to a dermatologist, she too packed up and without warning disappeared. There was the Czech nanny who told me she didn’t like my children and after four days in my house, I deposited her in another town with garbage bags full of her clothes.
She was followed by Mercelena, the curvy Colombian graduate of the Au Pair in America system who suddenly decided to take a job at a mechanics shop three months after starting with us. Then came Natasha, the Rastafarian, vegan Yogi with dreads down to her ass who had me running to Whole Foods for soy milk the first night she arrived so she could drink her organic tea in the morning. Natasha never finished the soy milk because she never returned to us after her first week, leaving a closet full of clothes behind. Natasha caused the most alarm after we cracked into her cell phone’s voice mail and heard dozens of threatening messages from her so-called boyfriend. Alarmed that the yogi was in trouble, we contacted the police who eventually located Natasha in her apartment, apparently completely shocked that we were actually looking for her. And after two months of Natasha’s underwear and jeans sitting in a corner and never hearing from her again, we sent her stuff to Good Will.
And most recently there was Stephanie, the best friend of a friend’s nanny. We brought her in from Utah and hoped for the best. We thought we had a great thing – until two nights ago. Now with fourteen days before school, my race to find a new fabulous, warm, responsible nanny begins again. We have contacted the agencies and posted ads online. A Manny (male nanny) emailed me this morning. Maybe that’s the way to go. Mannies in New York are apparently progressive and chic. But if anyone has someone good for me, please let me know….gym membership included. And I promise never to poach.