I am in a unique position where I am one of the people who help take care of the twin babies of a single dad. A self-chosen single dad. I live with the family in a different country from where I’m from. We live with his parents, and their servants. They are wealthy and have everything that they want, from what I can tell.
Flashback 2.5 years ago: I was speaking with the now-dad at a personal growth course we are both a part of. I had never met him before but he was talking about a family that is having twins and how they’re looking for someone to work with their twins and speak English with them (his mother tongue is not English, but I also speak it). Turns out it was for HIM at some point in the future and my job interview started the moment that I started speaking.
I jumped at the chance! I was in a position in my life where I was not enjoying my job at all (I am a substitute teacher). I also was single and nowhere close to having a partner. I felt inspired by this possibility. I wanted a change in my life. To mix things up a bit. Also, I was (and still am…even more so) in a lot of debt, and I thought, what better chance to pay off some of that debt than to be in a job where I don’t have a lot of expenses. So over the next 2.5 years, we spoke various times and he kept me updated. We were both enthusiastic about the babies coming and I felt excited.
The whole experience started out with the babies being born early, which meant that I rushed away and missed Christmas with my family (it’s a big, important time for us together). There were 4 of us (then 5) staff thrown together from Day 2 of the babies life (when one of them came home from the hospital) and from there…it has been quite the experience. I am the only person, in those 5 people, that is still here. Due to various dramas and experiences, they’ve gone. I almost left quite a few times.
You see, it’s a unique situation: there’s a dad that decided to have twins on his own via a surrogate. There are his parents, more particularly his mother, who thinks she knows everything about raising children, when from what I understand, her children were raised by nannies/nurses. And the mother is a very fearful person. So, EVERYTHING is drama. Also, due to her cultural background and how she was raised (wealthy with servants), the way she treats those working for her sometimes is less than courteous. She is the biggest challenge of my job. It becomes very stressful when she’s around. For a few months, we lived elsewhere and in terms of baby life, it was so much better and relaxed.
The job itself (being with the babies) is wonderful. That is the number one reason I am here. The babies are precious and delightful overall. They are also a product of how they are being raised: one of them has learned that if he cries, he gets what he wants and he works that very well. He is very attached to his dad right now, but in a panicked, screaming way. In fact, if his brother is sitting on his dad’s lap, then he gets upset. They get sick quite often because they don’t have much natural immunity…in my opinion, due to the fact that they’re rarely allowed to go outside (15 degrees celsius weather is considered “too cold”). They are in a cool language program where they are spending time with people of different language backgrounds and cultures. They also do that from 9am-6pm, Monday to Friday. For 9 month old (now 10 months) babies, that seems like a lot of stimulation. Which means, after 6pm, they’re pretty tired and perhaps could go to bed.
Nope. The dad and the grandma want to (understandably) spend time with them. So, they decide to play with them, but by then, they’re so tired. So, when it’s time to get ready for bed, they’re so tired that they’re almost falling asleep on the change table, nevermind trying to bathe them. They’re crying and screaming and then have a hard time drinking their milk before bed. One of the babies is normally very laid-back and handles this fairly well, but even he, in the last few days, has been unsettled and crying. They are EXHAUSTED.
I try to share my point of view with the dad. I try to suggest things. I don’t think there has been one thing that has been listened to. It’s like he thinks I have no experience (after 10 months of working with them)…like I don’t know them at all. Or…? Who knows? It’s my own challenge and issue that it upsets me. I feel like I am not valued here, at all. Personally, in my own perspective, I think that I’m a great asset and do my job well. I’m proud of myself. My own personal life comes second to this job and I don’t know how many people that are educated, loving and fun who are willing to do that. However, it seems like I am not appreciated. Like, he’s looking for “someone better” to replace me at the drop of a hat. And I have to be ready for that to happen and be okay with it.
I’ve changed my life a lot, especially recently (gave up my apartment, put everything into storage, and resigned from my job) in order to be here. I am paid decently, but not a lot in the grand scheme of things.
At the end of the day, is it worth it for me to stay in a job where my values seem to be so different than the dad and grandma’s? I feel sad. I want these babies to have a rich life. It feels like there needs to be someone to challenge some of what I consider are narrow viewpoints of things.
- if we are in the car, and the baby starts crying and stiffening body and refusing to go in the car seat, then a) sit there for a bit until calmer, or b) put the baby in his seat and distract him. He will get over it. He is 10 months old. He cannot get everything that he wants. He will cry when he doesn’t get what he wants and that’s okay. It is unsafe to ride in a car with a baby on your lap, and the only reason being for that baby being there is that he was crying. In my opinion, the 10 month old should not be dictating things.
- when the babies have a runny nose and a cough, might it be a better idea to make sure they get more sleep during this time? Instead of deciding then to try new foods, or right before bed riling them up, or immediately going and getting 4 different medications that they have to take.
- I believe it is important for EVERYBODY, not just babies, to be outside. To experience being outside in the air and seeing things etc. Sometimes, the temperature may change slightly and the baby will be okay. He does not need to put on 3 layers of clothing in 15 degree weather. No, he does not need a winter suit “in case there’s a cold draft”.
At the end of the day, I am not the parent of these children, so really…they can fuck them up, as they inevitably will, and I really should have no say in it. However, I don’t think that I can handle a whole other year of watching it happen and having to do those things that I feel, at the end of the day, are hurting the babies. On the other hand, if I leave, who will be here to ask questions? Who will push for them to be able to go outside? Who will disagree with 3 layers of clothing and the babies sweating and vouch for them? Because it’s not like these choices by them are being made out of maliciousness. Very much the opposite. They believe they’re doing what’s best, but because they have a limited experience of things, then that’s the only way they do it. And I have my own limited experience of things, but at least it’s different and at least I’m willing to question things, and I hope to keep questioning and suggesting things, even if I am ignored 100% of the time. Nobody else that works for them questions things. Ever. It is very much an obedient, You say “Jump!”, I say “How high?” and for most things, I do that. But, not all things. And I think that’s a good and valuable thing, even if it annoys the dad.
Because, at the end of the day, I am here for the babies. I am here to love and protect these two beautiful souls.
But, also, at the same end of the day, I am here to uphold myself. I have fears about the repercussions of that (how will I pay my debt? How will it be for me in this community of people that we are both a part of and where he is revered?). It is very interesting working for someone and knowing 100s of people who hold him on this pedestal (and he’s earned the pedestal, because in what he does, he is amazing and skilled!)…but he’s still a human. And, it will be assumed, that if I were to leave this job, that I did something wrong. I feel like it’s a difference of opinions. And therein lies my own insecurities and challenges.
So…we’ll see how it goes. A new nanny (because the main one was abruptly told to leave a few days ago) is coming in less than 2 weeks and I desperately hope that she can help to simplify things here. Because right now, it feels like a bunch of people who don’t know what they’re doing, leading the way and the babies not having the best experience they can have, due to that. We need someone who has experience with children and babies that can come and take the reins and lead the way for us all. Who can simplify things and challenge things. I truly hope that this new nanny will do that. Mary Poppins! Please!
Wouldn’t that be delightful? xo