Everyday Voices: Freakonomics – Nannies and Stepmoms: One and the Same?

It was a hard day for me when I had to let my nanny go (I know, Veuve Clicquot problems!).  My daughter, Zemrie was turning four and heading to preschool.  I also have a fabulous stepson, Zac who is nine.  Julie has been a life saver, assisting our family since my daughter was born.  She has even watched and played games with Zac, the Zman, on a few occasions.

I was busy doing some work, housecleaning, planning, etc… and as Julie left one day, I said nonchalantly, “Well, you know the little lady is heading to school, so we will be seeing a lot less of you in a couple months.” I gave a little pouty-lip frown and head tilt, then as I went onto writing the grocery list, I looked up and noticed her crying.  I thought, dear God woman, I am not sending you back to Honduras!  We live in LA, you will find a new job in a week!  My other thought was that of guilt…I will get online and put my attanae out and help her with a new gig.

Man, was I so off with my thinking.

She looked up with watery eyes and spilled, “I will miss Zemrie so much, I have been with your family for four years.”  I stopped in my tracks, what??  This isn’t about a job or cash flow??  You love children that are not yours??

She continued on as I stood there dumfounded.  “This is the hardest part of this job.  Leaving the kids I love, teach and adore.”  My chin started to quiver… I hadn’t felt a tear over something like this in so long… I thought this was a duty for her… an obligation.

Duty and obligation?  Sounds so familiar to me.  Most people believe stepmoms are parents out of obligation…something you must do, based on the situation, which is only part of it.

I stood there and looked at Julie and thought to myself, I feel a connection and empathy (or is it sympathy…I always forget).  If anything happens to my husband or we decide to separate, I will also be “let go” from Zac’s life, a boy I have been raising since he was four…most courts would make you really fight for even slight visitation and most likely there would be none…and would fade overtime.  No biological connection is really a doozie, but it doesn’t make the love any less, as I also realize even with Julie.

I began to watch Julie while she was with my daughter, something I have never done through her eyes… only mine… judging, making sure she was teaching correctly, giving my daughter the utmost attention and the right amount of hugs and guidance…something that I am sure most do when watching stepmoms, including our spouses, in-laws, friends, biomoms, teachers and complete strangers.

I noticed so many things Julie did that I never knew before… the truly selfless behaviors, everyday, many hours of the day… she certainly did not get the payment, monetary or other-wise that she deserves.  It’s priceless to find a gem like that.

My negativity started coming out again… will she pull away?  Will she become flaky?  Ugh, I want to slap myself, but I just put on some really good face cream I ordered from Ole Henriksen….

None of that happened over her last months.  It seemed like she was even more attentive and caring, because it was genuine.  Hand me the tissues and waterproof mascara!

I talked to another mother who works with Julie and she told me she had a waitlist for her services!  People that lived closer to her than I do and would even pay her more than what I was paying.  I couldn’t believe this.  She loved our family and chose the less desirable route for her…a difficult choice to say the least.  Something most of us stepmoms can certainly relate to…not that I would even put myself on the pedestal I now put our Julie on…she makes me want to have another baby so she can come back!

Then I come to my senses… hell no, I’m not that crazy, pass me the Malbec and I will just sit back and remember how lucky I am to know someone else who loves children that she shares no dna with… we were a lot more similar than I ever thought we would be.

Cheers to you and people like you Julie!  You make me know the term ‘biological’ is truly just a technical one.  Visit anytime, it’s a court order!

(photo credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

© 2012 Sara Stanley   All Rights Reserved

Sara Stanley is a biomom, stepmom, stepdaughter and an audacious stand up comedian and writer who has been featured on The Style Network and E! Entertainment Television.  She has also written copy for National Campaign ads.  Sara is a business woman and telecommutes from home for a successful finance company as well (gotta pay the bills!)  info@sarastanley.com. http://www.sarastanley.com/

 

10 Best Things About Being a Stepmom

Originally posted on Aug. 10, 2011 on my blog No One’s the Bitch.

There are probably 100 reasons why the most common words out of a stepmom’s mouth are “this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”

But why focus on the negative?

Here’s a countdown of the top 10 BEST things about being a stepmom!

10. You get to have kids AND keep your kickin’ body. No stretch marks or saggy boobs here!

9. You get to deflect blame. When you’re out with your stepchildren and they decide to throw a loud, embarrassing fit, you can stare back at the crowd and with a clear conscience say “Oh, they’re not mine!”

8. You get to have “behind-the-scenes” influence. You get to co-parent with your husband behind closed doors, then sit back while he dishes out the discipline. What evil stepmom?

7. You’re growing as a person. Anytime you’re faced with something challenging, you can’t help but learn and grow from it. What have you learned? How have you grown?

6. You get to watch your husband be in awe of his offspring. One of the sweetest things is to see the man you love fill with pride over his children. You get to sit back and listen intently while he shares his thoughts, hopes and plans for their future.

5. You can go from outsider to instant insider. There comes a time when you go from being a stranger to being part of the family. This can show up in a million different ways. It could be with a first hug, or when the kids finally decide to talk to you, or when you walk in the door and your stepson yells “Hurry up! Look what I made in school today!”

It’s an inclusion that wasn’t there the day before, and there’s nothing quite like it.

4. You’re not their parent. Instead, you’re a safe place for them to open up about things they might not want to share with their parents. This could be good or it could be bad, but either way it lets you know you’re special to them.

3. You can heal a family. Sometimes it takes an outsider to break the pattern of the family drama. You can provide your husband and your stepchildren with a new way of being that they otherwise might not have experienced.

This also gives the kids an opportunity to witness what a healthy, adult relationship looks like.  And with that vision, when they grow up, maybe they’ll seek out nurturing relationships, where the dynamic is supportive and reciprocal, instead of what they might have witnessed when their parents were together.

2. You get to walk away. When the kids are throwing attitude, acting ungrateful or just plain mean, you have the option of walking away. When YOU’RE the one with the bad day and can’t bear to be surrounded by kids, you get to take a time out.

Many stepmoms don’t take advantage of this option for fear of appearing “separate” from their stepfamily, or because they feel too much guilt. They end up burnt out because they don’t remove themselves when they desperately need to.

But the fact remains, as a stepmom, you can tell your husband it’s all on him and you’re taking the night off! I suggest every stepmom exercise this option at least once every two weeks.

And the number one best thing about being a stepmom is…

1. You’re loved for just being YOU. You have an opportunity to be loved by the kids, simply for who you are, not because you gave birth to them. Now how freakin’ cool is that?

Did I miss one? Feel free to share!

© 2011 Jenna Korf    All Rights Reserved