I left my small world and all of its comforts the summer I turned eighteen. My parents would tell it differently, but I had a burning lust for life, and I could no longer stay within a cardboard box setting fire to it over and over. I planned meticulously for months, and when the day came, I hopped on a plane, landing in New York City. It was everything except traditional and absolutely nothing like The Carrie Diaries, but it was mine, and I felt free. The jump came with what seemed an endless fountain of struggles, but I could finally breathe.
I had more jobs than I can recall in my six months of moving to the city. Some were odd, most were creepy, and all were unsatisfying and slightly degrading. I worked as a personal assistant, food and beverage, even marketing once (and by marketing, I mean I stood on the corner trying to convince people to save the planet behind the face of some scummy company). With only babysitting gigs and a GED under my belt, I found myself feeling hopelessly defeated, and I contemplated packing my bags on the daily. Every road led me to a neon sign that read, “Leave this insufferable city and never return!” While my pride and inability to admit my failure screamed much louder than any self-doubts. So with that, I decided to stay, and not long after, I finally found the passion I so deeply desired.
I sat down, going through my skills to determine what I could offer. Then, with the help of a friend, I got the idea to get a few certifications, and I began crafting a resume for child care. I went into it with zero expectations because I was young and inexperienced. The only thing I could promise was my love for kids and creativity. I applied to many ads, and to my surprise, I received multiple callbacks. Interview after interview, trial after trial, I finally found a family that was willing to take me in.
Summer rolled around again, and I settled into my new position. I joined countless forums to gain any insight that would help make the transition as smooth as possible. Though much like a hurricane, while you can prepare for it extensively, ultimately, you won’t know what to expect until the storm arrives. The trials and tribulations came barreling in like a flood, but with rent due, I had no choice but to see it through. I strapped into my sneakers, trading in my purse for a backpack filled with snacks and toys. To Prospect Park I went, joining the army of caregivers, toddlers, and strollers.
It became clear that while there was a wrong way to pseudo parent, whatever “right” meant was entirely dependent on what the situation required. So I ditched all the advice blogs I was following and began adopting my own style. Without even realizing it, my role as a caregiver quickly became second nature. I felt like I’d unlocked a new superpower. My only kryptonite: lugging an overtired toddler up three flights of stairs.
Whenever it was time for my little one to start preschool, her parents allowed me to go on tours and participate in the decision-making process. When they welcomed their second child into the world, I was one of the first to meet her in the hospital. They viewed me as more than an employee, and it showed. I was witnessing the most intimate moments in their lives; it was clear that while I worked for them, I was cared for as well by being treated like family. After three years of fulfilling service, our life paths led us in different directions. I thought the tears would never stop falling. We promised to stay in touch and said our goodbyes, and with that, that specific chapter had ended. However, the book was far from finished.
I tripped and fell into my career as a nanny unexpectedly and all at once. When I imagine myself doing something different, everything else is as foreign as an unknown language. Before meeting my second nanny family, I was back in the cycle of working jobs that only ended in frustration, so when the perfect opportunity opened up again, I was back in action. I assumed my next position with confidence that I hadn’t had the first time around. Though I was not without faults, and it was not without challenges, the bonds I would create made it all more than worth it. Providing a nurturing environment for parents and their children will always be the most rewarding job I can see myself doing. Out of all the things I saw for myself, being a nanny wasn’t anything I’d ever even considered. And the fact that I’m able to love every moment of it is just an unexpected blessing. It is still, undeniably, working, but I never knew work could leave me feeling so appreciated, respected, and loved. And while it’s not a job that I think will be viable forever, at least for the current moment, there is nowhere else that I would rather be.