I worked as a nanny throughout college to pay for rent, food, and the absurd amount of coffee I had to drink to stay awake during class.
It was an easy job for me because it seemed to come naturally. I occasionally liked to be the responsible one when we’d go out, and despite my tendency to be a buzzkill, my friends kept me around.
At my nanny job, there were four girls that I was responsible for, ages two all the way up to sixteen. I kept the teenager out of trouble, which is a job in itself. You tell me that convincing a sixteen-year-old girl to stay away from college guys and their parties ISN’T a full time job.
Note to parents- being a nanny is the cheapest and most effective form of birth control. Sign your daughters up today.
When I graduated from college in December 2011, I had a hundred plans for my future. The first involved moving back to New York. So what did I do? I picked up a friend, and we headed to the northeast. We didn’t have jobs, a place to live, or any clue what was going to happen, but that didn’t stop us. We were in it for the adventure, and that’s exactly what it was.
I had two job offers the first week we got there for nanny positions. Not exactly my dream job. So naturally, I chose the family that seemed a little off the hinges. There’s something about people in need… I can’t turn them away.
The first time I met Erica, I was afraid.
She looked to be the kind of girl that would make fun of me behind my back in high school. She wore a lot of black and eyeliner, and she didn’t say a whole lot. This girl had gotten into some serious trouble over the last few years, and her mother needed help.
It took weeks to get Erica to talk to me. I drove her to every activity and cooked her meals. I have no idea why a fifteen-year-old girl intimidated me, but she did.
I’ll never forget the night it all changed.
It was a drizzly New York evening, and it got dark long before the sun set. I had been asking Erica questions for almost an hour on our way to her appointment. Once we arrived, she looked at me with such desperation. She began crying, and I hugged her. She felt everything from helpless to alone. This girl that scared the hell out of me for weeks was in my arms. My heart was settled. I knew exactly why I chose this family.
When you are invited into people’s lives, you have the potential to change everything. Not only was I cooking these kids their meals, but I listened to them. I heard their heart, and I encouraged them. Being a nanny is rewarding because I feel like it is as close as you can get to being a mother without actually being one.
The change I saw in Erica during that year I spent with her family still takes my breath away.
It’s been less than a year since I left, and I miss that less-than-conventional family all the time. I’m hopeful that Erica will end up near me someday. I’m always telling her to apply to Texas colleges. I’m sure her parents don’t really like that.