I know I have a lot of moms and dads who read me. And I know there are a lot more parents who have a tendency to show up and share thoughts when I specifically call them out (*ahem* Her Bad Mother, Domestic Slackstress, Mary P., Mocha, Mothergoosemouse, Crystal, Sandra, Mom-101). So ladies and gents, I need your help on something that's actually been on my mind a lot lately.
How much is too much to love someone else's child?
Let me start with a story. Anyone who's been reading me for a while knows that Lady M and I are close friends. We've been dancing together for years, and though our friendship has gone through phases - just like all relationships - we've grown particularly close over the last six months or so. Our friendship stands on its own, independent of any other ties, but there are other ties.
Bubbers - whom you longtime readers have also read about - is Lady M's son. Once upon a time, I was his very first nanny. He is my precious Bubbala, and I love him to pieces. When I don't see him for multiple weeks, I miss him. When I get a thank you card from him covered with crayon scribbles, I cry. When I hold him, I snuggle him close and breath in his smell and it makes me smile.
But from the very first day I cared for him, I worried about Lady M. Would she be jealous of the time I spent with him? Would she resent my closeness? Would she believe I was trying to replace her in some way? Would she get angry with me for loving her son too much?
I hoped not, but it was always there, in the back of my mind, and whenever I interacted with her and Bubbers, I was watching and wondering what she was thinking. Then last week, it came to a head. Bubbers came backstage with his grandparents before our Friday night show. Everyone came around to admire him, including me. After a few moments, people returned to their tasks, and SwingDaddy and I were left with Bubs. I asked to hold him (Bubbers, not SwingDaddy), and SwingDaddy obliged. It had been probably a month since I'd seen and held him, so I snuggled him up to me and sighed happily. My Bubbers - how I'd missed him.
But then, after less than a minute, Lady M appeared at my side, took Bubbers out of my arms, and walked away, saying nothing. I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me. What had I done? My brief moment with Bubs was gone, and immediately tears came to my eyes. It took me a long time to calm down enough to go on stage and dance.
Now, don't get me wrong - Lady M did nothing wrong. Never, at any point, was I angry with her for anything. I was, however, hurt and confused, and I decided that after years of this fear, it was time to talk about it openly. After all, we're friends, right?
Lady M couldn't have been nicer. It turns out she really just didn't realize, and that she doesn't at all begrudge me my relationship with Bubs. I tried hard to explain to her my worry, though: Bubbers is her son, not mine, and she has the first claim to spending time with him. I don't want to take him away from her. It's just hard for me, because I love him so much, and I don't get to see him very often. She was very understanding. If I'd like, she said, she would make an effort to make sure I had more opportunities to hold and play with him.
After the fact, though, I really got to thinking. I love Bubbers more than any other kid on this earth - that's why it hurts so much that I don't get to spend much time with him. But is that okay? At what point is it not okay? How much is too much to love him?
This isn't just about Lady M and Bubbers. I'm looking into returning to being a nanny, and this is something that I need to think about. I'm a loving person by nature, and I would like to be able to become a part of the family for whom I work - I want to love the kids in my care. But at the same time, I don't want to cause problems with the parents.
I'm nowhere near the Hand That Rocks the Cradle type of nanny. I don't want to take the kids away and raise them for my own, I don't want to replace their parents in the kids' eyes, I don't think I'm a better role model. But as a part of the "village" raising that child, I will fall in love with him/her, just as I did with Bubbers. I will want to spend time with that child, and when I'm away from him/her, I'll be sad. And beyond that, I'll want that child to want to spend time with me - there are few things nicer in this world than hearing Bubbers excitedly shout, "Nanny Lara!" I want the kids to love me just like I love them.
Is that wrong? Am I overstepping boundaries here? How much is too much love?
Help me out here, folks. I'm really at a loss.