What Didn’t Kill Me

I’ve spent the past three weeks holding my breath.

Seemingly out of nowhere, our nanny told me she was heading to Poland the week after Thanksgiving, the same week we’d also taken off of work. I thought that was wonderful; she still has family there. She then told me later in the day she would be there to finalize The Adoption.

We’d known for some time she was adopting five-year-old boy, a sweet, shy guy who we met and thought the world of – he’d been to the house and was so sweet to Abigail. We were thrilled for her and her husband. Whatever she needed to have happen we were going to support for her. After all, she could not have been a bigger blessing to us and Abigail.

At first she said she wouldn’t be back by Monday. And then it might not be for two weeks. Then five. In each instance, we told her to do what she needed to do, that she’d have a job waiting for her. Our families stepped in. This was too important to our nanny and to us.

Yesterday we learned she won’t be coming back. If working for Oprah taught me anything it’s to listen to that nagging voice in your head, that gut feeling. I knew, I did, that she probably wasn’t coming back. I just didn’t want to believe it.

This is, as my friend Brian puts it, a “high-class problem,” meaning that in the grand scheme of life, a problem that actually can be addressed because you have support and resources isn’t dire straights. It’s life, and it’s annoying.

To be fair? This is my daughter’s care we’re talking about. All parents know how fraught with emotion caregiving situations are, no matter what you decide works best for your family. I get to have pangs of anxiety here. Even more importantly, I get to be sad.

I truly loved AG’s nanny. She became my friend, though I was careful not to blur the lines. During the roughest part of my life she helped me get rest. She made it so I could find my footing again. Most importantly, she loved my daughter and cared for her as though she were her own.

And proof of that was on Abigail’s face each morning. She’d light up and immediately crawl to her with the biggest grin. I am so sad for my daughter to lose that person in her life. Aside from her dad and me, her nanny was the most constant person in her life.

I am not at all good with feeling sad. I manifest it by being angry and on-edge and miserable to be around. In dread, I panic and stress. I have known there was a great possibility that this would happen, and I would have to deal with being sad, with losing this important, lovely, wonderful woman in our lives and be completely powerless to stop it

I shed quite a few tears. Felt anger and betrayal. Began to analyze what happened, the signs I ignored. But then I stopped.

I have thought long and hard about the example I want to set for my daughter and, like so many things in life, it is easier said than done. It is easy to say that I won’t yell and scream, but when faced with those things that trigger such reactions, I have much work to do.

I realized yesterday that my worst fear came true and I did not die. Plain and simple. But I spent three weeks in knots because I let myself believe that I would. Because other than death, what else would cause someone to be so ruled by panic and fear?

And so of course it hit me: I can either cry and worry and be upset or I can mourn the loss of our friend from our lives, wish her well and be excited for this next chapter in her life, or I could show my daughter that the way to react to hardship, in any form, is to bottle everything up, shake vigorously and let it all explode with no problem solved and no one better for it all.

I think much of this is the residue of a few hard breaks early in my life, but it doesn’t make me unique. Life is not easy and sometimes sadness revisits us all.

I’ve a few leads on new nannies already. No one will replace our first nanny, and I’m going to have to manage the stress and anxiety that comes with change. I worry about my daughter’s well-being. About my own ability to work and manage our schedules as effortlessly as we did.

I will miss my friend.

But we will be ok. It’s a good thing to start teaching Abigail now.