Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Captive Audience

When I get home from work on the nanny days and Chamudi's still napping, all I really want to do is sit down and relax, watch a little television, maybe catch up on my email. But invariably the nanny seems to stay on another half-hour or so, taking care of the other little baby in our nanny-share and chatting chatting chatting.

Okay, so I'm a captive audience. But I'm also learning a lot. Mostly I'm learning that I totally underestimated her. She's really smart, funny, and resourceful. And--surprise, surprise--she's not so different from me. She has her own challenges finding the ever-elusive work-life balance, made all the more difficult by the fact that more often than not some family thinks that she belongs more to them than her own husband and children.

Frankly I'm a little ashamed of myself. I think I looked at this woman and put her in a box--working class, or uneducated, or employee, or who knows what---and made a million tiny assumptions based on very little information. And assumed that we lived in different boxes. So much for my so-called liberal feminism.

So here I am to say...there really is more uniting women--especially mothers--than there is dividing us. And I hope in the future I'm more open to reaching out to--and learning from--everyone around me.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I had a very similar experience with a nanny I had over a seemingly short 3-month period last year. She felt like an adopted sister more than an employee. She was Israeli, so it did feel more obviously family-like, but I didn't expect to have much in common with her at first. By the end of our time together I had so much admiration and respect for her integrity, for her endless energy and creativity of play with my daughter. It was very sad to lose her (she moved out of the country.) Our life circumstances dictate so much of our outlook on the world it's very easy to put people into a role they never chose for themselves (working class, uneducated, questionable immigration status...) I respect what you've said and hope others are blessed with this realization themselves, as it tends to open our eyes to the world around us in a real and vivid way.