Remember that pasta advert a few years back, when the woman pulls the little Italian woman out of the cupboard and then she whips up a pasta extravaganza (Fattis and Monis I think) and prepares everything.
When she is complete, the woman (hostess) enters the kitchen gives her a wry wink, and shuffles her back into the cupboard where the mops and detergent live.
Then the hostess then takes out the prepared food to the adoring guests,and laps up the praise as it appears she did it all.
That is pretty much how I would like my nanny to be – always there, and always available, working magic behind the scenes.
But as we cannot make Pepe legally live in a cupboard, and possibly because she is not an Italian woman from an advert. Pepe also takes leave each year (those pesky basic conditions of employment rear their ugly head again much to the inconvenience to the white madam).
Just a bit of background, I work a full day and so does Kennith. Isabelle stays at home with Pepe and our two older kids get home around 16h00 from school – and then the dinner/bath/evening fighting starts.
If I did not have a Pepe, odds are I would not be able to work a full day, and then my kids would be stuck at aftercare/creche until 6pm on most nights. I understand that for many working moms this is the only way it can be, but I have the benefit of working and still geting kids home to be at home for the late afternoon/evening without the chaos.
The only reason my household functions is because I have a Pepe – and I give daily thanks that I have someone like her making it possible to do what I need to do (without me having to drink more to cope).
At the mere mention that Pepe needs to go on leave throws me into an absolute f&nnie flap – and this year was no exception. Usually she goes in December/January but this year she opted to go in March.
Of course that made December/January brilliant – us off to work, kids at home, and clothes that were magically packed away, and dishes that miraculously washed themselves. It was all fabulous and a totally heady experience! I was drunk with how divine it was. I congratulated myself daily on how fantastic my lot in life was.
Fast forward to March and I am now in the midst of what can only be described as a mini/major (it fluctuates depending on the time of the day) nervous breakdown.
I went through an agency, interviewed three ladies, regretted one who was just too timid, and looked at the other two candidates a bit further.
I did references, and thought about it long and hard. I brought the both women in for a trial for 3 days each so I could get a better sense of them, and have them living in my space. I decided to go with the one lady – let’s call her nanny F for now.
Other lady nanny J was brilliant, but I thought nanny F was a better fit, but I might be keeping nanny J in my cupboard for weekends.
So nanny F started yesterday and Pepe left on her month leave last night. It was as if when Pepe walked out the door hell broke loose.
The kids were fighting. Isabelle was crying and clinging to my leg. \Georgia was screaming (SCREAMING) that her pieces of torn out paper she had torn up yesterday were missing.
It was totally fekn chaos!
And then I realized this was going to be my month forward – it was as if I had been given a glimpse, a snap shot, of what was coming my way for the next 30 days.
If Pepe was there she would have known what to do and the situation would not have escalated.
Nanny F took one look at the situation and decided that ironing might be a good thing to be doing right now. (tip, it wasn’t!)
I poured myself some wine, put Isabelle who had snot on her upper lip, on my hip and then proceeded to attend to Georgia who was officially have a po** collapse (I must thank my friend Natalie Black for that wonderful term – I do not use it often, but when you see a p.c. then you know that is the only phrase that is going to work)
I went over to nanny F and explained to her that when she hears kids screaming it would really help me, if she stopped ironing (which I do appreciate, as I do not iron) and rather attend to the screaming child. I might have used a slightly disdainful voice when I explained this, but I was pretty tense.
Then I got really exasperated that I actually had to explain that problem…..and started to doubt that maybe I had not made the best decision on bringing nanny F into the fold.
Georgia continued to go totally ape sh*t – I continued to try to sooth her – Isabelle cries if Georgia cries, so the entire situation was really not pleasant. I was trying not to scream (because inside the voices were) but I tried to use the soothing mother voice, though, to be honest I was really one step away from having a po** collapse of my own.
All this whilst Connor is playing a computer game featuring fish. What he loves to do, more than anything, is whilst I am in the midst of a total family drama he pop his head in – usually in mid-sentence and says something like: “Mom, I just caught a Blue tang surgeonfish – it’s great, you know what they eat?”
To which I need to then ask: “No, my boy what do they eat?”
And so the exchange goes.
Please bear in mind I have no interest at all in what a Blue tang surgeonfish eats, that the sailfish is the fastest fish in the sea, and that the South American marbled hatchetfish are the only fish that can achieve powered flight. I really have little regard for this information, but in our house if you plan on having any conversation with Connor, then this is sort of where the subject matter is going to be heading.
While all hell is breaking loose, I need to also compose myself for fish banter with Connor.
So I sort out Georgia’s dilemma, sooth Isabelle’s crying – which has escalated as I think she has realized I am getting a bit irked with nanny F.
Nanny F then walks in and shows me that the iron’s cord is burnt through – and she can no longer use it.
I think wow, you have been here about 2 hours and we are already one appliance down…. Kennith is going to flip his lid. I already start imagining the exchange as he sees the iron, and he will say something like: “Man, how did this happen? She really needs to be more careful with the iron, you need to speak to her or she will break everything!”
Of course I will stand there, get annoyed as I would be thinking: “Or you could take three steps and then lean over and speak to her yourself!”
<Kennith’s defense he actually did not say any of these things, he just said, well we need a new iron and we need it quickly…..>
So all of this mania is going on, I finally get kids aimed towards bed, and I head towards bed myself. I fall into bed rather than climb in with any sense of style or decorum.
<I had an optom yesterday as I have managed – through various levels of stupidity – to scratch my cornea on my right eyeball -normal words cannot accurately describe my discomfort>
My eyes are tired, my head hurts, I am irritable, my nerves are frayed and I am already exhausted and the month has not even started yet. I am already predicting the chaos and starting to work through the various scenarios in my head and every possible permutation that may occur and what I will be doing when it does/might occur.
I fall asleep and then wake up at it is 12:10am and I lie there and start to worry.
I think I have made an awful mistake, and I am entrusting (with possibly my favourite child at the moment) to what really is a complete stranger.
I start creating an entire scenario of how this is going to play out, and all my scenarios end with me wearing sack cloth, crying with ash on my head, as I pull my hair out and plead with the not-so-friendly-police-constable to: “please just find my child, please find my child!”
All while they are looking at me with their little note books and small stubby pencils (in my mental picture they are in the blue uniforms from the mid 1980’s) and they are saying – in a very Afrikaans accent: “But lady what did you really know about this woman, when you decided to leave your child with her?”
So that kept me busy (in my head) until just before 5am.
This morning I woke up – feeling pretty grim, the acid in my stomach had already burnt a hole through to my arse.
I lingered and dawdled and left rather reluctantly this morning, and had no choice but to leave my little monkey with nanny F!
I literally sms’d everyone in my contact list and asked if they would please please please come by the house today and this week just to make sure nanny F had not absconded with my child.
I am in a total state today! Total fekn state!
<please do not tell me it is going to be alright, as that is not going to help at all ……. I have already phoned her 6 times this morning, and yes things do appear alright, but how do I really know, for sure?>
I have managed to get hold of Judith who said she would make a plan and go over to the house and spend some time there. I can’t tell you how much I am absolutely loving Judith right now!!!
I told the guy at work about why I am so stressed, he looks at me – and in a very helpful tone says: “If something happens do you have any recourse with the agency?” Excellent question.
Not an excellent question when I am thinking that nanny F has already sold my child for muti!!!