As she drove away that final time, I watched out the window with tears rolling down my face. My daughter stood next to me, blowing kisses. An important chapter in our lives had closed; our nanny was leaving for new adventures. This woman who first entered our home as a stranger left as a family member. And in the process, she made me a better parent.
I never thought I would be the “nanny type.” I assumed that only doctors and lawyers hired nannies. I thought only the elite and wealthy could afford this luxury. In my younger days, I even pictured what you saw in the movies: a nanny taking caring for a child as if she’s the parent because the real parents didn’t want the 24-hour job of being a mom or dad. But my theory couldn’t have been further from the truth.
After my triplets were born in 2013, I didn’t have an option. Within two months of their birth, two of my babies had died. I was left watching my lone survivor fight for her life in the NICU. Born more than 17 weeks premature, Peyton faced an uphill battle. In the early days, she was kept alive by machines and a team of doctors. When she arrived home from the hospital at 4 months old, she was attached to an oxygen tank, a tube camouflaging her petite preemie face. Her immune system was too weak to even leave the house; our only escape was our weekly medical appointments.
When I decided to return to my career as a television news anchor, we didn’t have a choice. I couldn’t become a stay-at-home mom because our mounting medical bills meant we needed two incomes to stay afloat. The only way I could go to work was if we found someone to watch our daughter inside of our home.
We interviewed several candidates and invited a few to meet our family. Fate entered our lives at a perfect time. We knew this woman would be our nanny the moment we met her. There was something warm and personable about her — it was meant to be. It also helped that she has a background in teaching and early childhood development. With a baby who had several developmental delays and health issues, we knew we could trust her to help our miracle child grow.
After a nine-month hiatus, I returned to work and our family fell into a daily routine. The first few weeks were difficult as the “mommy guilt” settled in. But the doubt and fear quickly subsided as my husband and I began to receive updates and pictures from our nanny throughout the day. The trivial things like going for a walk or eating baby food made us feel like we weren’t missing out. Each night, I returned home to find a journal filled with the adventures of the day. Our nanny took her job seriously, and it was obvious that she loved our child like one of her own.
As the months and years passed by, our nanny became more like a sister to me. We shared pictures and texts on the weekends and our families came together for holidays. My husband and I found ourselves spending more time on the couch catching up with our nanny, rather than being productive while we had child care. We weren’t the only ones who felt this way; our daughter absolutely adored her. Her eyes lit up and a squeal erupted the moment our nanny walked in the door.
As our nanny drove away that final time, a rush of memories flashed before me. That weak little baby had blossomed into a beautiful young girl — the health issues and delays now miles behind us. I know our daughter wouldn’t be where she is today without the help of our nanny, and I wouldn’t have become the parent I am today without her help. Our nanny taught me so much over the years. She showed me compassion and the importance of being patient. She reminded me that it’s okay to falter as a parent and that mistakes only make us stronger. Most importantly, she helped my family find life after loss. She cried along with us as we remembered our two angels, and she shed happy tears alongside us as we watched our survivor accomplish milestones we never thought possible.
Parenting isn’t easy; it takes a village to raise a child. Without family nearby, our nanny became a pivotal part of our village. As I watched her drive away that final time, I smiled through the tears. This was not “goodbye”; it was “see you later.” This woman had a profound impact on our family, and she will forever be a part of lives.
This post originally appeared on Her View From Home.