A love letter to our nannyJanuary 13, 2016
Loreta came into our lives when I was six months pregnant. The sister of a friend’s nanny, she wasn’t happy with her current family for reasons too awful to go into (but needless to say she was paid badly, treated worse and hadn’t seen her passport in two years) so was looking for a new job.
I had no experience of home help, but knew that I planned to go back to work, and we felt that a live-in nanny best suited our needs, but when we first met her for a preliminary ‘interview’ my mind went blank. It almost felt too big of a role to ask the small questions, and instead we had a general chat. What I liked – and still like, of course – about Loreta is that she doesn’t take any nonsense, and loves to laugh. She’s confident and cheerful, and has decades of experience, which is essential in a household where the two so-called grown ups haven’t really been around babies much at all.
We left that first meeting keen to have her join the family, but there was the small matter of extricating her from her job. Again, it was pretty awful but involved attempted extortion, refusing to hand over her passport and threatening the police – all on the day we were moving house. Ace.
Loreta moved into our new villa the day after we did, three months before Phoebe was born. Her passport was waiting on her pillow. That day she took charge; an absolute godsend for a tired pregnant mess. She took to our to dogs, and they adore her in spite of forced weekly baths, and with her at home the puppy stopped eating our shoes, and the old girl stopped pining for us.
She was as excited about the birth as we were, waiting impatiently for ‘our angel’ to arrive and before I went to the hospital she said ‘I pray she has hair’. Which she did.
Her help in those first few weeks was invaluable – I didn’t need to worry about laundry, cleaning or washing up, I was free to spend as much time as possible with the baby (namely crying over breastfeeding and trying to sleep). I even managed to overlook some not to helpful, oh so honest comments about my low milk supply as she mimed filling up pint glasses with her bountiful breastmilk when she fed her own five children.
While I’ve struggled (a lot) with the emotional side of being at work and leaving my baby with someone else, a few things have helped; knowing that I’m Phoebe’s mum, while Loreta is her friend, and the fact that her help has allowed me to have balance in my life.
A few months after Phoebe was born, my husband and I went out to dinner (thank you Loreta for babysitting) and he said ‘Having a nanny makes everything so easy and uncomplicated’, which I disagreed with. While her day to day help makes our lives easy on a practical front, it’s a complicated emotional relationship. Seeing Phoebe upset and Loreta being the one she wants to comfort her is bittersweet; we’re so lucky to have found someone that our daughter adores, but it’s tough when your baby sometimes reaches out to someone else.
The most important thing I want to stress is that I couldn’t lead the life I am without her. I couldn’t have returned back to work with confidence if I didn’t trust that Phoebe was going to be safe and happy. We couldn’t have all important baby-free evenings and the odd afternoon cinema trip. The house would be a disaster (and the dog would have eaten all our shoes). She is, in truth, at the core of our family life, and we’re very lucky.
I think Loreta is happy too. She lives five minutes from her sister, I (hope) we’re a vast improvement on the last family, and we support her whenever and however we can.
My husband jokes about getting t-shirts made saying ‘Life is better with Loreta’. And he’s right.
If she wanted to leave Dubai to spend time back home with her children and grandchildren before we were ready to go back to the UK it would be tough. I hear more struggles than success stories when it comes to finding good help, but above that the five of us would just really, really miss her.