Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Other Woman

Loyal readers will have realized by now that for some reason I'm extremely conflicted about child care. Nevertheless, with Abba's thesis on slow-motion I bit the bullet and hired a mother's helper to take over some of his hours. She's great, super-affordable, and my son loves her.


Kind of.

Let's put it bluntly: I'm a little jealous.

Yesterday, Mother's Helper told me, "He just stood on his own for 5 seconds!" I was crushed. Granted, I'd gotten to see 2 seconds, 3 seconds and 4 seconds, but I missed 5.

Me: "If he starts walking on your watch, don't tell us. Seriously."

Later, while we were chatting about his love of music, Mother's Helper innocently told me that he has some songs that he dances to more than others.

Wait a second...my son has favorite songs? That only he and his sitter know about?

And exactly what is it that they're laughing about for 5 minutes straight? To find out I peek into the nursery surreptitiously, like an outsider. But Ima wants in!

Deep down I know that this is ridiculous. That it's FANTASTIC that he is already making social connections with other people. That it's incredibly stimulating to play new games with new faces.

But still, I struggle. Am I just the food-provider and the day-to-day boring structure? Is she the razzle-dazzle? Does my son have a new best friend?

My solace is this: no one can really replace Ima. When the going gets tough, nothing but the Ima love will do. And while I might not be the only woman in my son's life, the foundation of love and protection I give him will enable him to go out in the world and find his happiness.

And they wonder why Jewish men have "mother issues."


Michelle Nevada (Michelle_Nevada@yahoo.com) said...


When my oldest son was two, I brought him to the shore of a lake and tried to teach him to throw stones into the water.

He picked up sand. I brushed it out of his hand and gave him a stone. He dropped the stone and picked up sand and threw it.

I stopped. I realized that, for him, with his tiny hands, he could make a bigger impact on the lake with sand than a stone.

This taught me to realize he is not a blank slate and I am not his author.

His life doesn't stop when I'm not in the room, and he, even at two, can sometimes teach me things I would have never known without his influence.

Anyone who wonders why Hashm made humanity has never been a parent.

Shalom and may G-d keep you!


Michelle Nevada

Gluckel of Manhattan said...

Ima Shalom, I have been there. It is so tough, and there is nothing to lessen the sense that you should have been there...

But I just want to share with you a totally valid point that a friend made to me when my son was about 6 months old. If your Mothers' Helper were awful, you would know it, and you'd feel very differently about her. Your son would respond differently to her, and she would never know his favorite songs. You wish you were there, but your son's affection for her means that you made a great choice.

And yes, you will always be his Ima. As they say, ain kmo ima.

Maya said...

I still breastfeed my daughter every three-to-four hours, though I'm working at have a nanny (she's walking distance). There are some days she eats, then squirms out of my arms to go play, as if she's saying, "thanks for the milk, lady. Be seein' ya."
But at 9 months she's starting to get separation anxiety, and, believe me, I'd way way rather that she ignore me and have a good time with the nanny than scream when I leave!
Your helper sounds terrific! What a great mother you are to have found her!

Joyous Jewess said...

I've totally been there myself -- glad, of course, that my babies love the person who takes care of them 3 days a week, but also a little threatened by their love of her. I know it doesn't make sense, as you said -- that obviously I want them to be happy with their nanny, but it's hard. And i'm finding it more difficult now that I'm barely nursing them anymore, because until this point, nursing was the concrete example of something only Ima could offer...