Before Ezinne got married, she was working as an accountant in an Audit firm in Lagos, and was quite the industrious staff. She started trying to conceive after her Aunt Flo showed up on the fifth month after her wedding. She was lucky to only need a diet change and then vitamin supplements for her and her husband, and months later, they welcomed their first son. Like most working mothers, she worked all through her pregnancy and started her leave when she put to bed. Ezinne was over the moon as she bonded with her baby, and even had enough time to snuggle up to the hubby, since her mother spent the entire three months with her on Omugwo. When her leave ended, and her mother also had to go back home; Ezinne realized that she needed a nanny to take care of her baby. She dreaded the thought of her son attending daycare centers so early and decided she would rather have someone look after him in a familiar environment like their home.
Her husband however did not like the idea of having a total stranger live with them. “Take Caleb to a daycare where there are people trained to take care of babies, Ezzy” her husband complained “I don’t want someone coming here who might have armed robbers as boyfriends or brothers”. Her own mother agreed with her husband, saying “some of these girls too are witches. You have to be careful who you bring into your home oh”. Her mother told her tale after tales of one havoc after another wrecked by nannies and house helps. In exasperation, Ezinne had shouted “so what do you people want me to do? Should I not return to work? Or mummy, would you leave daddy and come live with us permanently? At a daycare, I can’t tell how my child is being taken care of, but with a nanny, I can, I can monitor what is happening in the house and know how my baby fared. If you treat your nanny well, she would take good care of your baby”.
Finally, she got them to bend, and the search for a nanny started. Ezinne contacted three different agencies who all sent some girls for her to interview. After much scrutiny, she settled for someone she felt was going to be good to her son. What she did not anticipate however was that she was going to get jealous of her nanny’s relationship with her son. Caleb took to Victoria so fast, because Victoria was really good with him. One evening, Caleb was crying because he wanted to sleep and Ezinne rushed to attend to him, but he kept crying. The minute Victoria carried him and started patting his back, while cooing at him, he stopped crying and fell asleep in her arms. Ezinne had to deal with a mirage of emotions that evening. She didn’t know whether to be happy that her son felt safe with his nanny, or whether to feel threatened that her position as beloved mother was about to be snatched.
She took her concerns to her husband “I don’t know what I would do if Caleb calls Victoria’s name before mine oh! It won’t be funny!” she lamented. Ken laughed hard before saying “What if he starts calling her mummy, and calls you aunty?” Ezinne didn’t take that expensive joke lightly. She was starting to contemplate sending Victoria away, and putting Caleb in a daycare, but her husband’s logical reasoning prevailed. “I think we should be grateful she is at least good with Caleb, rather than resent their closeness”. Ken’s friend had recently told him of how the daycare centre their son was in, used medications to make the babies sleep all through the day. They had noticed their son’s drowsy state and his sickly appearance and took him to the hospital where large amounts of the sleeping tablet was found in his system. This friend had officially decided that he was done with daycare centres and his wife, who was too traumatized to try another daycare centre, decided to resign to raise her kids. Hopefully, when the youngest son was three, she would go back to work.
One of the hardest decisions to make when going back to work, is determining who is going to look after your baby. Having a nanny has become a necessity in today’s world, when you hardly find grandparents or relatives, who can look after the child. Staying off work is not economically wise in most cases, when the family needs the salaries of both man and wife to get along. If you are able to get away with it when you have just one child, what happens when baby number two shows up? We all need nannies, no matter how much we dread the topic. Even with a newborn baby, you still need time to take a shower, catch a nap or at least watch a bit of TV. Trust me, one extra hour of sleep can do wonders to the sanity of a new mother. Having a nanny also make it possible for you to have some time alone with your husband, which can be such a luxury with the demands of a new baby. So yes, nannies are quite necessary; however, we have to be alert to the people we choose to leave our child(ren) with.
I have a friend whose main concern is the poor English her nanny speaks and how it is starting to affect her son’s language development. The day she heard her three years old son speak pidgin English, she wanted to cry “what is the use of paying expensive fees at Grange if Lizzy is going to ruin his English altogether?” she lamented. I couldn’t blame her. My paramount issue is the issue of hygiene however. I was at a birthday party recently and I saw a nanny feeding a boy fruit yogurt; another boy was looking at them, apparently longing for the same yogurt and this nanny instinctively used the same spoon to feed the other kid yogurt. I swallowed hard and turned my head in another direction, only to see another nanny sharing the same cone ice-cream with the little girl she was looking after. She would lick the ice-cream with her tongue and give the little girl to do same. There are a lot of issues that goes into play, that it often seems as though we are getting the short end of the stick by hiring a nanny.
The way I see it, we can only get by if we understand that these people come from different backgrounds and are bound to act in a way dictated by their upbringing, but a lot of them are willing to learn how things run in your home. Closely supervising your nanny and your baby is important; save for a nanny cam if you must, and make unannounced arrivals at home when no-one is expecting you. You can’t put a cam in your child’s daycare centre, but you can do so at home. That way, you know what your child is being fed, what they are watching on TV and how they play. You also have to make out time to spend with your baby, after all you don’t want your cherished role of ‘mother’ usurped by a nanny. Babies draw closer to the person they see most often, but if you are the one they wake up to and go to bed at night with, then you still occupy the big spot. When the kids are older, even thirty minutes or one hour of your time would be greatly appreciate; and of course, you can compensate on the weekends.
May God grant us all the wisdom to build good homes.
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