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The Nanny Diaries: Part I

Welcome Abby Kraft (soon to be McIntyre!)

A former long term volunteer in the Philippines, our new tribe member Abby has always had a deep-rooted desire to change the world. After a few months in seminary in San Francisco, she began to realize that world change begins right here at home. After meeting her fiancé and leaving seminary to become a full time nanny & mom supporter, Abby and Brian moved to Greenville to hopefully start a family of their own after their wedding in March. Abby believes so passionately in the Your Milk Shoppe mission and is thrilled and honored to be on board! 

I have been a babysitter for as long as I can remember. When I was 8, I made a laminated sign advertising my babysitting services and hung it on a post in my neighborhood. I probably should have advertised that I was also a baby, but some people let me watch their littles while they ran to the store or to a neighbor’s house. Ever since I could drive, I spent my summers hauling kids to the pool and back. I spent my weekends watching Disney movies, making Easy Mac, and having dance parties. I helped teach a beautiful baby girl to walk when I was 14… she has her drivers license now. I took CPR courses and learned how to test blood sugar for my diabetic kiddo. I rocked babies to sleep and pulled teeth (a labor of love- pulling teeth is the worst) and knew just the right silly face to make to calm the tears. I have always loved children- I’ve wanted to be a mama since I was 3. A babysitter extraordinaire.

I remember distinctly the shift when I stopped thinking of myself as a babysitter and began referring to myself as a nanny. Mama M, a friend of a friend, called me asking if I could help out her family a few days a week while she worked as a nurse. One day a week, both girls were in school, and she wanted to know if I could clean their house while they were there. “Of course,” I said. “Anything to make your life easier.” In that moment, everything changed. I had been babysitting and loving on kids forever, but in that moment I committed to loving on this mom. I had no idea how much it would change me at my core.

As a nurse, mama M had to be at work very early and got home very late. I would drag myself out of bed, throw a banana in my bag, drive the 2 miles to their house, and promptly fall back asleep on their couch. Most days the changing of the guard woke up A & H, who would come snuggle me on the couch. Baby H would usually fall back asleep on my chest- the highlight of my day.

We began the morning routine early because A loved to eat breakfast at the approximate speed of a sloth. I stuffed little feet into little shoes and shuffled everyone out the door. We were hardly ever on time for school. (Mamas who get to school on time, what are your secrets?? Do you wake your children at 4 am? Please advise!) Once I got back to the M’s house, I’d start the cleaning process. After a cup of coffee, of course. I remember the first time Mama M came home to a clean house and fed, happy baby girls. The gratitude on her face said it all. That look is what it’s all about for me. Mama’s realization that one thing was crossed off her to do list that she didn’t have to do herself.

Since working for the M’s, I’ve been a nanny for so many different families. I’ve put dishes away, done laundry & grocery store runs, cleaned kitchens, washed cloth diapers, organized playrooms- “anything to make your life easier.” The gratitude I receive from these moms (and dads!) is enough to make the world go ’round, if you ask me.

The common thread in the thanks I get is most often surprise. Surprise at how easy it was to ask for help, and easier still to receive it. Somebody told all my precious mamas that they had to do it all themselves, and they believed it. They think they have to be Beyoncé, but y’all- Beyoncé has a nanny! And a chef! And a cleaning lady! She doesn’t have a choice but to ask for help, but you do. Please don’t be afraid to ask! What’s the worst that can happen?

For me, though, nannying isn’t just extra responsibilities. It’s not just the shift between a Friday night babysitting gig and working full time. When I became a nanny, I committed to joining each family that I work for. With the M’s, this meant not just loving the kids as my own, but loving the parents, too. It meant knowing Mama M was pregnant before she told me, but still shedding many, many tears of joy when she finally did. It meant early mornings and late nights- witnessing the true grit of motherhood. The 3 day old dry shampoo and the sleepy-eyed 7 am breastfeedings. It meant not having to be asked to put the dishes away, because I already knew it was her least favorite chore and she’d rather be spending time with her family. It meant hoarse-voiced “good mornings” and late-night “see you bright and early’s.”

It also meant that moving on when the time came was so, so hard for all of us. I still remember how H’s head smelled and the joy of hearing her say my name for the first time. I remember the good moments and the bad, and take solace in knowing that I helped their family function well for the time I was able to be with them. The goodbyes get harder each time, but I know that giving my all to help these families is always worth it and won’t be forgotten. I just hope they know I haven’t forgotten them either.

Keep eyes peeled for more from Abby…you’ll be hearing from her on a regular basis!

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