Edith shouldn’t have to be a nanny

by | Jun 8, 2007

In Lima, I spent a few hours at Casa de Las Panchitas, a center where domestic workers could come and rest, visit friends and family, even take lessons in computer studies against the possibility of a better future. Some of the workers were little girls, and I spent the afternoon painting butterflies, roses, and a cat onto the covers of their notebooks.
This worksheet is about Edith, a 7-year old who spends six days a week as a live-in nanny for a 2-year old. I’ve copied it from my notebook.
Edith shouldn’t have to be a nanny.

Is it true?

I can’t know that she shouldn’t be — I can’t know that she would be happier or safer if she were not a nanny. I can’t know her path.
How do I react when I believe that thought? What happens?
I question my reactions — is it okay to hug her? I start missing her from the moment I meet her. I want to own her – save her – protect her, even at the moment when she is with me, safe, happy, smiling.
I treat myself as a problem. I am wrong – I feel guilty for flying to Peru for one week – I think the cost of the trip could feed 100 Ediths. I criticize and attack me for not speaking Spanish. I try to be [illegible]. I attack me for being self-indulgent – for having a life I would like Edith to have.
I am in Edith’s business and God’s business. I am afraid that if I did not think this thought I would be criticized and attacked for my life and wealth. [And I notice that with the thought I criticize and attack me for my life and wealth.]
Who would I be without the thought?
Love, loved, loving. Utterly present for all of it instead of trying to be there for a bunch of parts of it.
Turn arounds:
1. Edith should have to be a nanny.

  • She is one.
  • Being a nanny has brought her to Casa de las Panchitas.
  • She was there for me today.
  • 2. I shouldn’t be a nanny.
    Yes. I imagine Edith’s life through my thoughts and my past and I project a terrifying future for her and then hate myself for having had a way out.
    [Note. I am the oldest of 8 kids, and I had 4 siblings within a few weeks of my 5th birthday. In some respects, I was a nanny and found a way out. Also, this turn around is about realizing that the only one who can make me a nanny is me, and that much of my “nannying” has been a strategy to get love, approval, and appreciation.]
    3. Edith shouldn’t have to be a nanny to me.
    Yes! Edith should not have to have a different life so that I can feel better. She should not have to take care of my feelings or be my penance. She should not have to carry my projections and suffer the demands of my love. She should not have to feed me (emotionally) or soothe me (spiritually).