The 9 Stages Of Nanny Resignation Grief

by Elizabeth Paulson
Originally Published: 
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You thought she’d last forever. You were wrong.

Nothing is quite like the thrill of finding the perfect nanny. The young woman who thinks like you, loves your child like you, and fortunately, has way more energy than you. The flood of relief at knowing your sweet little is in good hands after weeks of stressing out about who will take care of them when you’re at work is intoxicating. You dance. You laugh. You feel like you’re just a half step down from being Supermom (as opposed to your usual ranking near or on the dirty floor of your kitchen). You’ve got this parenting thing figured out. You’re darn near having it all. Life is magical.

And then, after six months or a year of what you’d assumed was domestic bliss, your nanny gives her notice. She’s leaving—in two weeks. She’s heartbroken. But the full-time job in her field/internship in Italy/better-paying family with more kids and more hours was just too good to pass up.

In the next few days, this is what you go through:

1. Shame

You are a terrible person. You can’t even keep a nanny. She must have always suspected how unworthy you are, from your half-eaten pints of ice cream in the freezer to the alarming number of wine bottles in the recycling bin. She knows everything about you. She knows you’re a mess. You could curl up and die from embarrassment.

2. Betrayal

Hold on—you’re not terrible. She’s terrible. You thought you had something with this girl. You thought you had a rapport. Didn’t she think of you as a cool older sister? As a mentor? As the successful woman she surely aspired to be? How could she just leave? Even worse, all this was going on under your very nose. Perhaps she was looking for a new job while at your house—during naptime. Will you ever be able to trust another person as long as you live?

3. Anger

Fine. Leave. You’re glad she’s leaving, in fact. You never wanted a person of such weak character, who could be turned so easily by the prospect of “more money” or “travel.” If she couldn’t stick with it for the long haul, which surely would include an all expenses paid trip to Hawaii with your family (eventually) and Christmas bonuses in accordance with the guidelines established in Emily Post, then she doesn’t deserve you. It’s for the best she’s leaving.

4. Fierce Defensiveness on Behalf of Your Child

Your amazing baby deserves the world—the world and everything in it. He is the best human on the planet. Any fool can see that. People should be paying you to look after him, not the other way around. He deserves the kind of devotion that girl they found at Pompeii had toward her charge. The person who takes care of your child should be willing and eager to wrap herself around him in the face of a devastating volcano. He deserves nothing less.

5. Nihilism

You can trust no one, for there is no moral order in the world. You’re all alone in the universe. It’s a bleak and meaningless place. Nothing is permanent and everything dies.

6. Getting a Grip

Do you know why no one cares that your nanny is leaving? Because it’s not that big a deal. Because there are far bigger problems to have than your nanny leaving. Yeah, it sucks. But it’s a First World problem if ever there was one. Pull it the eff together.

7. Gritty Determination

You and the baby have been listening to Helen Reddy’s “You and Me Against the World” on repeat for days now, and you got this. You got this.

8. Acceptance

Your nanny is 21 years old. Sure, she said she’d be delighted to stay with your family till the baby goes off to kindergarten, but she said that as a 21-year-old. Think: What did you know when you were 21 years old? If you’re being honest, this girl has it way more together than you ever did at that age. Good for her. Good for her knowing what she wants and trying to make a better life for herself.

9. Excitement for the Future

Of course you’ll miss her. Of course your child will miss her. But she wasn’t perfect. She was only human. She had her flaws. So maybe this is an opportunity in disguise! Maybe your next nanny will be a trainee aesthetician and can do your makeup before you leave for work so you look like a person! Or maybe she can cook interesting food! Or maybe she can speak a different language. Maybe she can teach the baby how to play the piano! It’s a clean slate, so tell prospective candidates that you’re obsessed with cleaning and hope to find a tidy house when you get home. You could wind up with someone better than you ever imagined!

Children are resilient. You can be too. Nanny grief hits hard, and we all go through it. But there’s usually a happy ending. Life has handed you lemons, but you have the power to go out there and find a nanny who knows how to make really good lemonade. Go find her, Supermom.

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