May 19, 2014

Turning the page...

Well, Friday was my last day of work. And today I woke up for the first time with swollen, achy feet and nausea for the first time since the first trimester. Hm.

Leaving my beloved job was so bittersweet. Unlike the few times I have left a job in the past, this was not an easy or welcome change. I absolutely love what I do and I have been truly blessed to have been a part of this program that I helped start and operate for the last four years. Caring for children is truly my calling and although now I begin the chapter of caring for my own I will truly miss each and every one of my babies and their parents, as well as my incredible boss and assistant.

Long story, but here's how we got where we are. Just about 5 and a half years ago C (who as my live-in boyfriend back then) and I were living out in Syracuse, NY where we met after I graduated from Le Moyne College. He was working in sales and I was a Nanny for two amazing kids and their widowed marketing manager mom. I loved what I did, despite the long hours and sometimes crazy work. It was during these three years as a Nanny that I started to think I might want to be a SAHM someday. The kids, K and C, were 3 and 2 when I started and I left just as C entered full-day kindergarten.

They were the sweetest, brightest and most fun kids I had cared for up until that point. Every day was a new adventure and I truly felt like I was making a difference in this family's life. My boss, J, lost her husband when the kids were just 1 and 3 to cancer. Six months later her "Mary Poppins" nanny who had helped them through his death was moving to Boston and we found each other on a type website. I didn't know how in the hell I was going to fill those shoes but I quickly learned that what this family needed most was someone who truly cared and was just willing to be there for them.

I was 22, single and a recent college graduate but I knew enough about child development and grief from my psychology degree and a part of me felt like I could actually help these kids. And help I did. J referred to me as her right hand and her co-pilot in life. I became not only the Nanny but the household manager, taxi service, life organizer, grief counselor and more. It was the most rewarding and fulfilling thing I had ever done, just being there for these three people who needed me.

It wasn't an easy decision to leave but they were ready to transition to part-time care and I was ready to move back to my hometown. I felt like I was missing so much of my family and hubby was stuck in a dead-end job that was losing hours and pay. We decided if we found a place and had the support of our families, as well as my Nanny family, we would go. We fell in love with the first apartment we looked at and moved 2 months later. 

I was sad to leave the kids and J but we all felt like it was perfect timing for all of us. Her work had slowed down and with both kids in school full-time I just wasn't needed anymore. Keep in mind this was back in 2009, just about the time the recession started hitting us up here in NY.  We weren't sure what we'd do once we got here but we had each other so thought we'd be fine!

Well, it took 3 months for me to find work, another 3 for C to find even a part-time gig. It was the most trying time in our lives and looking back now I really have no idea how we did it. I babysat for family and we had help from our parents and grandparents but going from making over $60k/year combined to nothing was insanely difficult, especially since the bills did not diminish along with our income! We stretched $150 worth of groceries for a month, didn't drive anywhere unless we absolutely had to and spent day in and day out searching for work.

Finally in December I applied for a job at a very small daycare and was blessed to be offered the job in the middle of the interview. That's where I met H who would be my assistant and who would later welcome me to operate her home daycare with her. We clicked instantly, despite the fact that she was a devout Catholic and I hadn't been to church in years. Our boss told us were the best thing to ever happen to her little daycare.

Then, about a month after I started working, we received word that the daycare would be closing in June along with the Catholic school it was housed in. I was crushed and, once again, terrified of what we would do. That's when H informed me of her plans to open her own daycare and wanted me to join her.

We opened her daycare as ours closed and we have been together ever since. I have learned so much from her, not only about caring for kids but about life, love and friendship. She has the most amazing spirit and her heart is so full of light, it spills on to everything she does.  I have always believed that everything happens for a reason and this just solidified my belief. If I had gotten one of the hundred other jobs I applied for in those three months I would have never met her, I would have never had the chance to do what I truly love, I would have never been able to care for my niece once she arrived in November of 2011, and I would not have the knowledge, skills or memories that I cherish because of her. I truly believe it was meant to be that I left my Nanny job when I did and that I happened to be on craigslist that morning and was able to apply for the job with H as soon as it was posted.

Leaving for the last time on Friday was so hard, even though I know that I am doing the best thing for me and the babies. It's not that I won't see them again. H is one of my best friends, in fact we were other there Saturday for dinner and A, my assistant, is my cousin. It's that I know I will never again have the experience I've had these last four years. To go to work every day and truly love what you do, that's a blessing. To sleep well knowing you've actually made a difference in someone's life, no matter how small, that's a blessing.  For four years I lived every day to the fullest and had the time of my life. I know I will care for other children in the coming years but I will never forget those that I cared for at this job. Our mission from day one was to serve and teach and we truly did, to the best of our ability and to the joy of all of our families over the years.

Again, it's bittersweet but I know I am doing the best thing for my babies. As if I needed another reminder that everything happens for a reason I just find it so funny that I woke up this morning with feet so swollen and achy I couldn't even have imagined putting my sneakers on! So instead of heading in to work I curled up on the couch with my kitties, watched some Call the Midwife and looked at more baby names! Don't worry, I will be plenty busy these next two months prepping for my little loves to arrive, but I think I have earned a morning off after the last four years :)


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