by Glenda Propst
As we celebrate NNRW this week, I thought it would be a great idea to ask nannies to share with us stories of how they were touched by the sense of community and the strong bond that nannies develop with other nannies around the country forming what Donna Robinson named “The Sisterhood of the Nanny”
I had 5 responses. Three of them were short and sweet. Two of them were long and detailed. I will share one with you today, and Wednesday and Thursday, share the others. This will kick off another series for our blog where I will be sharing with you on an ongoing basis, stories of nannies supporting their own. So if you have a story about how another nanny supported you when you were going through a difficult time, send it to us at RegardingNannies(at)gmail(dot)com ATT: Glenda
Donna’s Robinson’s Story
(the nanny who came up with name Sisterhood of Nannies) Better get Kleenax before you read these.
The Sisterhood of Nannies….there when it counts…
When I first started The Traveling Nanny back in the mid ’90s I had only a small glimmer of the world of the Sisterhood. The first year in business, where I had not a clue what I was doing from one job to another, I also went to my first INA conference. I was scared, felt so overwhelmed by the professionals around me, and yet, they welcomed me with such open arms that I felt bonded to them immediately. Some of the nannies I met that year are still friends and mentors. One newborn nanny, Kim Dillon, was determined I would succeed and would connect me with jobs to follow her or just emails with words of encouragement. In the beginning, I would make some mistake in a contract thinking “I had to tell them THAT?!” and as she said, “take the high road Donna, it always pays better”. She helped me to believe in myself.
Kelle Geres and Alice Shaffer were my “fixtures” at conferences and even if everyone else was different, they were there and you were automatically “home with friends”. Through the years I made a real effort to get to know the nannies at conferences and I loved listening to their stories and see how much they loved their profession. It made it easy for me to sell hiring a nanny to my clients. Sometimes nannies would write me if they needed work or thinking about doing what I did. Slowly, I began to see how much we all needed each other. I loved to help nannies enter the specialty world! There is so much work out there and the more professionals that enter it, the higher the quality of work. We often supported each other as when one would be low on work, the other too busy. The trading back and forth kept all of us going. It wasn’t business as no money passed hands, it was the Sisterhood of Nannies that we claimed. It required reaching out and helping when we could knowing any day, any time it could be us needing them.
Life on the road can be exhausting and it was those lifelines of other specialty nannies that I could talk to when I needed to share a trial or just, well, lonely! No one could understand what we did and how hard it was but another specialty nanny! It was a Sisterhood you could count on in time of need, I told myself. I have always been independent and to honest, I don’t “need” others that much. I always considered myself more of a giver than receiver.
There are two events in my life that brought home to me the Sisterhood of Nannies. The first was in 2008 when I let my client nominate me for Nanny of the Year. To be honest, I didn’t think I had a chance. But fate decided to be twisted that year and the only other person running had to drop out for personal reasons. Can you imagine being elated you won only to find out 30 minutes later you were the only candidate? Yes, you get reassured if you didn’t qualify you would be chosen but talk about ego pain! What scared me was facing the nannies at the conference. To begin with, I would be the first specialty nanny chosen for this honor. Unlike those facing me, I didn’t work 50 weeks a year, grinding out love and devotion to one family. My work is very intense and my hours probably come pretty close at the end of the year, but it is a different kind of stress and demands. What would they think? Would they accept me? Would they smile artifically but murmum behind my back? I couldn’t bear letting them down! Then my nanny friends started calling me and basically it was “grow a backbone Donna! You can’t let your sponsor family down! AND you should have a little more faith in us..” Needless to say, that last thought hit home. I thought about the years I had been in business, all the conferences I had attended and all the support these nannies had always given me. They were my sisters in a way. So I wrote my speech pretty much dedicated to the Sisterhood of Nannies. For that is what we are, in better or worse, we stand beside each other. We sometimes get catty and judge but I think we fight against it. I know I do because while human, I really hate it if I see a mean streak in me. I might need another nanny to talk me “clean”.! The outcome was these wonderful nannies stood up and applauded me at the end with love in their heart. I should never have doubted them…..
Then in November of 2009, the biggest test of the Sisterhood came full force when my life changed forever when my son was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and died within 4 weeks of the diagnose. I was in shock. I was lost. I felt like the earth had swallowed me up. Some of my first calls went to my nanny friends. I had to scream, cry to someone who wouldn’t try to soothe me, tell me it’s “going to be ok” because I knew it was never going to be “ok” again! They listened and they put the word out for me so I didn’t have to explain 100 times. The emails came in as well as the texts and phone messages. I remember one time I was home, Jim was asleep, it was my week to be brave and suddenly I felt devastated. I couldn’t take a breathe without pain. I frantically thought who I could call! I needed to talk damn it! But it was really late and I saw Julie Worley and thought, “she’s on another time zone”! and called. I don’t know if she even remembers that conversation but I can tell you that it saved me that night. I could have called any of the ten nannies on my phone and all of them would have talked even if I had woke them up at 3am! The Sisterhood asks no questions if you need them….Kim Dillon drove up from Houston to be with me a weekend even though she only had a short time off to make sure Jim and I got out of the house. Melanie Nesbit came to see me and more important talked me through many a night. Marion Tucker still walks me through tearful days. You have to realize that I withdrew from the nanny world till recently. I couldn’t attend conferences and see such happy people–I wasn’t ready to experience happy as anger was a much better companion. Now, another profession might have forgotten you existed. But not the Sisterhood. I would still get comments on Facebook, emails and often from nannies I didn’t even know very well or not at all. Just to share sometimes a similiar experience or just to say “thought about you today.”. I can’t tell you how that has helped me to rebuild my life. I am not all the way there…I still haven’t made it to any conferences. But I’m working on it. When I do, I know the Sisterhood of Nannies will be there for me…
If you have a story about how another nanny supported you when you were going through a difficult time, send it to us at RegardingNannies(at)gmail(dot)com ATT: Glenda