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Are You Jealous of Your Nanny?

by Amy Hatch, May 5th 2009 2:00PM, ParentDish.com

When moms seek nannies or full-time babysitters, they look for someone who is part Mary Poppins, part MacGyver and part Mother Theresa. So why are they so surprised -- and sometimes so jealous -- when their kids fall in love with these women?

Having a full-time sitter or nanny in your home is different from sending your child to daycare. The person taking care of your precious babies is in your home, every day or nearly so, and interacts with your children in a very intimate setting. Making this choice can also sometimes mean that the relationship your kids form with their caregivers is extremely close. Sometimes, it can be too close for our comfort.

Nannies4Hire recently conducted a survey on so-called "nanny envy," and lots of moms said they are jealous of the relationships their kids have with their caregivers. "My greatest fear was that after being with [my kids] all day, that the kids would be closer to the nanny than they are to me," says one respondent. "[During] the little time I get to spend with them on the weekends, they call me Shantel, the nanny's name, instead of mommy. I hate that."

Another woman says: "Our youngest, they baby, practically jumps out of my arms to get to the nanny. I am glad my kids like her and that she is so good to them, but as a mother you can't help but feel jealous."

Just ask Jane (not her real name), a Bellevue, Wash. mom who found herself confronting the Green Monster when her two boys were toddlers. Her first nanny had been an older woman; when the boys became more active, she hired a 22-year-old to tend to them. While the young lady was "marvelous" with her boys, Jane found herself facing the fact that "at 45 [years old], I was aging."

The nanny's energy and enthusiasm for her job was a double-edged sword; Jane was thrilled to have her caring for her children, but was envious of her ability to do so with such gusto. So how did she resolve the issue? Did she leave notes for her kids during the day, or arrange for a day out with just her and her boys, as Momlogic suggested recently?

"I just let it ride," Jane says. "And by doing that, I came to see that with two little boys less than a year apart, and given my age and my husband's age, that having a young person in their lives to wear them out was good for all of us. I had the energy to do my parts of the day because of her."

Jane's nanny sensed that something was amiss. "She knew I was struggling with the demands of the children after working a full day," says Jane. "I was lucky that she did her job the best she could and let it ride too."

In fact, the two women are still close, and her now-retired nanny drops by now and then to chat with Jane and see the two boys, now ages 6 and 7. " We still are very dear friends, and although she has not been my nanny for the last couple of years, she occasionally comes to sit on the weekends, attends the boys birthday parties, and she is really a member of our extended family."

A few weeks ago, my 8-month-old son gave me a high-five. At first, I thought he was a genius -- then it dawned on me that our babysitter must have taught him how to do it. He looked up at me with his bright-blue eyes, laughing. I smiled back, and tried hard to swallow the jealousy rising in my throat.

My kids have had babysitter since they were born, but it was different when my daughter was a baby. I wasn't working, and she was also the only little person in the house, so I could focus on her. Now, with a demanding freelance career and two kids to care for, the baby sees the babysitter more than he sees me some days -- and that was never my plan.

When he gave me that sweet high-five, I felt displaced. Worse, I felt like I wasn't doing my job. I felt like our sweet sitter was doing a better job being his mom than I was. Now, I know that isn't the case. But for that minute? It totally felt that way. Motherhood finds new and interesting ways to make me feel guilty -- and now jealous -- all the time.

Are you jealous of your babysitter or nanny, and how do you deal it? Or do you?