Thursday, June 23, 2016

Do You Know How Much I Love You? (My Nanny Diary)

I have often thought this question and sometimes even had the courage to ask it aloud.  For a number of reasons, I often feel that I’m not as good at expressing the depth and width of my love as I'd like to be to family, friends, and the children in my care, especially those for whom I have nannied

“Do you know how much I love you?” comes to mind as I reflect on the ten-year anniversary of when I made my Cursillo weekend.  Back in that June 2006, I had recently found out that I would only be nannying for “my two little guys” for another couple months.  I worried about my own separation anxiety, how much I would miss the boys, and how hard it would be to say goodbye to what I considered our “daytime family.” I also had to figure out what I would do next in terms of work.  I felt very unsettled about this major life transition.
I had no clue how the end of my time nannying for the boys would lead to the beginning of the most profound example of forgiveness and mercy I have experienced within the context of a human relationship. 

Reconciling with my father was a truly miraculous occurrence.  In the last three years of his life, there was more transformation for both of us than I ever thought possible.      

Do my two little guys and the three silly sisters know how much I love them?  Do their parents?  I honestly don’t know, but I have every intention of continuing to express my love for them. 

When pondering this question, I often think back to one particular Sunday evening at Mass a couple years ago.  One of the first two Scripture readings talked how we should trust in God. Immediately following the conclusion of the reading, I was asked a direct question.   
“Why should we trust in God?” the four-year-old sitting on my lap asked me. 
“Because He loves us more than anyone else,” I whispered.
“Like you?” she asked, looking up at me.    
I was speechless, but my thoughts were racing: What?! Does she actually know how much I love her?  Wait. What does she mean by that? Oh, she’s got to know that God’s love is much greater than mine can ever be.  I can’t explain that in the middle of Mass. 

Because I'm Not the Mama

The difficult part about profoundly loving children who aren’t your own is that there comes a time when you don’t see them as often.  Of course, this happens to most parents eventually when kids move out and move on with their lives.  It happens sooner for some of us, though, and requires a time of transition which has often proved difficult for me.  Suddenly, you aren’t there to watch them grow and witness a number of their firsts.  After rarely going 72 hours without spending significant chunks of quality time with them, days, months, years go by, and Christmas cards in the mail become your only physical link to the children you gave your all to for a time. 

When people have asked me why I have spent most of my life taking care of and working with children, I think of the little ones I’ve had the blessing of helping to love, nurture, and raise during their early years, and I sincerely hope that they knew then how much I loved them.  That is one of the questions I’ve been most afraid and most interested to know the answer to. Do you know how much I love you?  

A Note from Your Nanny to "My Cuties Young and Older:" I couldn’t help but fall head over heels in love with you.  I treasured our time together.  You still have a very dear place in my heart.  So many of my experiences taking care of children make me think of you.  Not a week goes by that you don’t come to my mind and bring a smile to my face. 

Even the seemingly mundane and to others insignificant aspects of the day bring you to my mind.  Reading a treasured storybook or singing a favorite song, a garbage truck going down the street, children devouring Cheerios, a sense of wonder and fascination with insects and other aspects of nature, an enthusiastic love of music and dancing, running hugs, unsolicited kisses, and certain silly faces and expressions remind me of you.  My hope is that I was and am part of the village reminding you that you were, are, and always have been loved.           
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