One thing is true: we come into this world hardwired. Children come into this world with a natural connection to their mothers. And they come into this world as needy, irrational beings who are incapable of thinking for themselves for nearly a decade or two. Matter of fact, science is uncovering the fact that the prefrontal cortex – the part of the brain that distinguishes humans from animals, where decision-making and forethought are accomplished – isn’t even fully developed until the age of about 25. Women – for the sake of their own self-fulfillment – are shifting their responsibility of child rearing oftentimes to complete strangers who are recommended by specialists. This has to be an act that those children don’t understand and perhaps won’t for years, having lasting consequences on their own lives and their relationships with their mothers.
A friend of mine is married to a woman who has nannied for a young Washington couple for nearly three years. It started with the couple’s first child, which the woman took on when the boy was six months old. That boy, almost three now, has a little sister who is about 15 months old. The boy called the nanny “mama” until he realized one was mama, the other nanny, and the young girl is now in that “mama” phase, calling the nanny “mama.” The nanny watched both children crawl for the first time, walk for the first time – and kept each milestone to herself, pretending to the children’s parents that they never happened on her watch, so that the parents could own those “firsts.”
But they don’t own those firsts. A nanny – who soon will leave their employment to build her photography business – owns them. Those are her stories – not the parents’. She’ll always remember when these two children, not her own, crawled and walked for the first time. And when she leaves the family, the youngest will still be calling her “mama.”