Call Me Mommy

I have a general rule of thumb for myself with the blog. When I realize that I’ve been thinking about something for more than a few days, I conclude it is blogging material.

I mean – if I’m chewing on something for so long and it’s keeping my attention – then surely you will too, right? Right.

So here goes.

A few weeks ago, my nanny mentioned that her friend, who is also a nanny, was in trouble with her employer. Let’s call her Nanny X. She watches Baby J during the day.

Seems that Baby J has taken to referring to the Nanny as Mommy X. That’s right, calling the nanny “Mommy” followed by the Nanny’s name. Now I don’t know about you but that would set me OFF if I caught my daughter referring to our nanny as “Mommy X.”

I mean – it’s tough enough to leave the house on the mornings where it feels like she likes the nanny more than me – but that would put me over the deep end.

A friend of mine once joked that we all needed to back away from our HR Offices one morning – a few of us were having trouble juggling motherhood and working and were probably threatening to quit……and I can say with certainty that I would need to be told to back away from my HR dept if I heard my daughter referring to our Nanny as “Mommy X.”

Wouldn’t you?

So, my nanny and I discussed this situation. She went on to point out that her friend doesn’t tell the boy to call her Mommy X. In fact, apparently the nanny corrects him and reminds him just of her name when he does so, but he is just over 2 and well, he says what he wants.

Or how he feels, according to my nanny.

She then went on to just say that the nanny spends more time with Baby J than anyone else and like in other situations she has seen, Baby J has gotten so attached to the nanny that it feels natural for the child to refer to her as Mommy X.

See, KT over here, I’m not buying a ticket on that bus. I’m not replaceable, I am the only Mommy and I’m the one that brought the child into the world, nurses her to health at 3am and provides for her at every turn. I am the mommy and am not sharing that title with ANYONE.

I’m pretty sure the mother of this little boy felt the same way because this Nanny was in the DOG HOUSE.

I pushed my nanny on it a bit more, asking her if it would bother her if her kids referred to someone else as “Mommy,” to which she replied “No.”

Again, surprised. Was she just more comfortable in her role as a mother than me? Was she just more confident than me? I wondered.

So off I went, for a few days, and thought about it. I thought about how many hours my daughter spends with the nanny, I thought about how many hours she spends with me, I might have been spotted loitering outside the HR department of my office a few times, just sort of lurking in the shadows cast off by the cubicles.

But I also thought about something my nanny said and something my friends and I have said, mainly in regards to our in-laws.

First what KT’s friends say. We believe “you get what you give” – you give a lot, you get a lot. You don’t give much, well then, you don’t get much.

The nanny’s believe that as well because they also work in households where the parents just aren’t around as much, where the nanny is tending to the child from early morning until bed time. They might even be the one that is there when the child is sick. So for them, to be called “mommy” is just a natural extension of what they are doing. They don’t encourage it but they can see why it’s happening.

A few more days passed and then I went to a birthday party…..and noticed that there were NANNIES present at the birthday party.

Which was held on a Saturday.

Naturally I was busily judging those mothers and wondering why in the hell they needed to drag their nanny out on a Saturday to attend a child’s birthday party with them? I mean – for real?

That following Monday, I made a comment in passing to my Nanny about this and she looked at me, smiled, and said “Now you know why the little boy calls my friend Mommy.”

For once, I was pretty much speechless. Because – is she right?

I mean, you get what you give. Don’t you?

7 Responses to Call Me Mommy
  1. tweenietime
    October 22, 2007 | 5:34 pm

    It sounds like you’ve got a wise nanny, kitty.

    You reap what you sow.

  2. Sara
    October 23, 2007 | 12:59 pm

    You know, I think it’s okay for a 2 year old kid to call his/her nanny “mommy”. As long as it’s truly the kid who has come up with this and not some weird thing the nanny is making the kid say. It shows the kid has a strong bond with the nanny and he’s trying to express that as best as he can with his limited 2 year old vocabulary.

    But I’m not going to lie, it would make me sad that I couldn’t be the one and only “mommy”! But if I was in a situation where I couldn’t be, I’d also be happy that my kid had such strong feelings for his caregiver. However, I would get worried if my kid then started calling ME by my first name! :)

  3. jen
    October 28, 2007 | 12:25 am

    Sometimes a baby calls all woman mommy. It is up to the nanny to say..oh im not mommy silly Im _______ . Thats all it usually takes and it does stop. I really found your blog entry interesting. Your nanny does sound very smart to me too. I am a nanny . I have been with my nanny family for 14 years next week. I have had the kids say mommy to me. I have corrected them no silly I’m _____ mommy is at work. She’ll be home soon. Thats it. It has always fixed itself. 14 years three kids now 14,10 and 6. They Know and love mommy and they know and love nanny :)

  4. Kathy
    December 22, 2007 | 9:42 pm

    Jen is the wise one. A smart nanny would always correct the nanny and make sure that they know who is who. Down the road, I think it would only cause problems for the child if they are also referring to a nanny as ‘mommy’.

  5. missbr0wniis
    March 7, 2008 | 4:18 am

    I am a nanny who also get called Mommy Hedor (3 year old version of Heather) He spends every waking moment with me. From breakfast until story time. His mom doesn’t care, because she knows she is his mother, but I am currently doing everything that she would normally do. She laughs and pokes fun, and even plays along and calls me mommy.

    Mom’s who pawn their kids off to nannies should see that coming. If you aren’t going to be apart of your children’s life, the way they need you too. You can look forward to being “replaced” in their mind for the period that you have the nanny.

    :0)

  6. GMA
    April 4, 2008 | 8:05 pm

    Hi, I find this story to be fairly common among many mothers to young children who have nannys. Good Morning America Weekend is looking to do a segment on this and would like to reach out to any mother who is struggling with their child preferring the nanny. If you do not mind sharing your story, or if you know of anyone who has similar sentiments, please contact me at this email address as soon as possible. Thank you.

  7. YumaMom
    April 27, 2008 | 3:53 pm

    I experienced this a little bit with my second child when he was two, and I had forgotten about it until my neighbor’s two-year-old called ME mommy a couple of days ago. I truly think that a child of that age may associate the word with a loving woman who takes care of him/her, and the child has not yet understood that it is blood lines that determine who gets that label. If the nanny is wise, and the mother is also wise, this will correct itself. Of course, when it first happened to me, it was a shock, and pushed me along in my decision to quit work (or at least, to quit my office job!)

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