Every morning except for the weekends, the doorbell at my home rings, sharp at 8:15am. I run down to open the door, exchange greetings along with a quick summarization of the morning chores and what to expect during the day with the person who has arrived.
It is almost like a quick project stand up meeting every morning.
“He is fed and his diaper is changed. “
“He is running a low -grade fever today. I have kept two boxes of Kleenex handy, he has a runny nose too.“
“He refused his breakfast, he skipped dinner too. Please feed him.”
After that 5 minutes conversation, I head to start my workday and she heads to take care of my son for the entire day. She has done so since he was 4 months old. The children fondly call her “Aunty” and she is one of the family now.
I cringe to refer to her as the Nanny or the babysitter, she is my children’s “Aunty”. I prefer it that way.
She came in at a time when I was in a desperate need for someone to come and take care of my infant son. With an extreme case of food allergies and dermatological condition, he needed a one on one care that was hard to find in a day care. I interviewed many, tried many but no one was quite willing to take up the job. The sight of an infant with sore, flaky and blistered skin from head to toe was enough to put them off.
When she came in for the first time, she asked me if she could hold my son. I remember vividly he was in an onesie on that hot summer afternoon, his bare arms and legs covered with raw blisters, his little hands concealed in mittens so that he did not scratch himself. She picked him up and held him lovingly. He looked at her and smiled. At that very moment I knew she was the one.
She cared for him selflessly then and does so even today. Taking care of his skin condition, bathing him, applying oils and lotions and medicines as instructed, quickly learning his dietary restrictions and just being there with him when the pain made him fussy and inconsolable. I have seen her sitting and talking to him for hours, singing lullabies to him and reading to him.
She was there when his first tooth sprouted, when he learnt to crawl, when he took his first steps, as he out grew his food allergies, as his skin came back to normal and the joy on her face as he learnt to say “Aunty” very early on. A toddler now, an active one at that too, I still see Aunty working relentlessly on teaching him things he should know at his age, her passion and patience both surprises me. She does it with both dignity and diligence. Her dedication is inspiring.
Yes, she does it for a living. But she pours her heart into it.
When it comes to nurturing a child, we often or always speak about the mother. But then there are those that enable a mother. Those who nurture our children while we, the mothers, nurture our own dreams. Those who let us step out in a different role for few hours a day, while they take on our roles.
Yet in all this discussion about empowering mothers and letting them lean in and do what they want to do, we rarely stop and talk about the people who enable us. The hundreds of teachers and caretakers at day cares and after school programs, the nannies and the babysitters, the grandparents, we forget to acknowledge all of them. We forget to appreciate their kindness and their willingness to nurture ours as if they are their own.
On Aunty’s birthday this year, my daughter made a card for her. On the card she had drawn – Aunty, herself and her brother, just like a child doodles their own family. I had seen Aunty’s eyes well up as she thanked my little girl and told her, “I am going to keep this forever.”
And I know that she will be forever in the hearts of my children for they are fortunate enough to get so much of her love and care, to get the attention and the time and the love when their own mother could not be around.
Story and Picture by : Piya Mukherjee Kalra