True Story Tuesday: Freedom

IMG_4230
IMG_4230

Before we get into this story, I want to let everyone know that this will be our last True Story Tuesday. I'm running low on stories to share and these posts are not as popular as others, so I think it's time to change it up! So with that said, we will be replacing True Story Tuesdays with a "Dear Brooke" column. I get so many questions on a daily basis and I think it would be beneficial to nannies all over if I answered some of them publicly. Send your questions to brooke@nannycounsel.com and your question just might get answered in a blog post :) (Note: Due to the high number of emails I receive, not every question will be answered. If you are interested in for sure having your question attended to, please contact me for a professional consult).

With that out of the way, let's get this final story started! This will be the conclusion to the family responsible for The Stroller, Nail Polish, On Time, and Secrets. Up until this point, I had put up with a lot. Some of which I haven't even covered in these stories, like getting in trouble for accidentally not using the "morning bottle" in the morning. Mind you, this morning bottle was the exact same as all the other bottles, they just labeled it the morning bottle because we would put DHA in it. I also got in trouble when they forgot to pack a bottle and I had to quickly get one ready for them. In my hustle, I accidentally grabbed an incorrect part. The bottle still functioned completely fine and it did not harm or impact the baby's feeding in anyway, but they sat me down for 30 minutes to lay into me about how irresponsible I was. They let me know that making errors like that made them concerned for the well being of their baby in my care. If I didn't notice something simple like that, how could they be certain their child was safe with me? When they said that I simply said "Grabbing the wrong bottle part hurts no one. It in no way harmed your child. I am extremely in tune with the kids in my care. For example, I noticed his first tooth breaking through before you guys did. I think I absolutely pay attention to detail -- especially as it pertains to your child's development and well being". They didn't have much to say in response, so they just reiterated what they had already said, that me messing up on the bottle made them concerned about my ability to care for their child. I also got in trouble for the bottle nipples getting cloudy. They would inspect every bottle piece I cleaned and the nipples getting cloudy was supposedly my fault. To fix the "cloudiness", they gave me a specific brush to use for them. The brush was very harsh and ended up scratching the nipples. Of course, that was my fault too. It was literally never-ending.

I was done. I think it's also important to note that every time they sat me down for these 30 minute chats, they would keep lecturing me until I finally broke down and cried. I learned that they wouldn't end the conversation until I was in tears, so I genuinely would cry -- simply because I was so exhausted. I couldn't  believe that I was being treated this way -- they would literally manipulate me until they broke me down to tears. I mean, didn't they have better things to do? Micromanaging me was their full-time job. All the time and energy they spent micromanaging me could have been spent raising their own child the exact way they wanted since clearly I wasn't meeting their expectations. I want to be very clear that they way they treated me was a form of emotional abuse. I didn't realize it at the time because I was so intertwined in it all, but my therapist at the time pointed it out and once I realized that, I was out. I was not a piece of property that could be controlled like that. I was also human and as such, made mistakes. I refused to continue to be berated for being human.

After this bottle incident, I started actively looking for a new job. The decision to look for a new job was liberating. Although I wasn't free of them yet, I felt free. I was taking control of my happiness and doing whatever I needed to do to be happy again. A week into my job search, I had two interviews lined up for the weekend. The Thursday before that weekend changed everything. I was playing with the baby on the floor, which meant I was bending over. Any woman knows that sometimes when you are playing with a child and bending over, your shirt comes down a little and might show some cleavage. You know, because that's how our bodies are made and we can't control it, especially if you are well endowed. Well, that's me.

We should rewind for a second to when I first stared working for them. They sat me down for a "chat" to discuss my clothing. The dad led the conversation. My clothes were inappropriate and my shirts were too low. I was shocked. No family had EVER said this to me and I consider myself to dress rather conservatively. That being said, I'm a woman and sometimes I have cleavage. My nanny attire at their house was pretty much workout clothes -- leggings with a colored v-neck from Target WITH a cami underneath (I am fully aware that v-necks can be too low, hence the cami). These parents were so offended by my clothing. I ended up crying and profusely apologizing -- not to mention I was mortified. It was so completely inappropriate for the dad to discuss my body and my clothing with me. I felt very violated. I left work that day and bought new camis -- this time much higher than my others.

Okay so back to that Thursday while I was playing on the floor with the baby and bending over. I was wearing a shirt I had worn at least 10 times and of course, had a cami underneath. The shirt was a J.Crew t-shirt -- hardly scandalous. The parents were getting ready to head out to their couples personal training session when I noticed they were observing me. The dad then very abruptly and rudely said, "Brooke! Your shirt is too low!" I was silent. I looked down at my shirt and tugged on it a little. I had a little cleavage showing, but only cause I was bent over. What did they expect from me?? And why was he so focused on my boobs?! Like dude, stop looking at me like that. I felt so angry and so uncomfortable. For the first time in 8 months my positive, pleasing attitude was gone. I very frustratedly said "Okay." I didn't look at them. I kept engaging their child. They stood around for at least another 30 seconds just staring at me, but I wouldn't look up at them. I did not want to talk to them. They were out of line and I was so beyond done. They finally left and during the 1.5 hours they were gone, I was able to calm down. Sure, I was still annoyed, but I was looking for a new job anyway so I decided to have a good attitude and just move forward.

Once they came home, they immediately sat me down to talk. I was expecting this. They let me know that they were not only unhappy with my clothing, but my attitude. I explained that I didn't feel my shirt was inappropriate and that I had worn it many times before without a problem. The mom finally spoke up (she never did in these talks...the dad always did all the talking) and said "Brooke! That shirt has never been okay! We just haven't said anything. You have NO body awareness". I explained that it was only low if I bent over and asked what they expected me to wear, a turtleneck? I was then told I was expected to wear a t-shirt like the mom had on. Mind you, she had just come back from working out -- she was wearing a t-shirt that you get for like running a 5k. Not cute at all -- very frumpy looking. I said "I'm sorry but I don't want to wear something like that everyday. I run errands for you in Los Angeles. It would be different if I stayed home all day, but I run into people I know. I go grocery shopping, pick up lunch at trendy restaurants for you, etc. I am fine dressing the part, but I want it to still be decently cute" (aka, lulus and colored tees from Target). There was no negotiation. I was to wear t-shirts from that point forward. I was then sent home for the remainder of the day and Friday and told not to come back to work until Monday. At this point, I started crying. I could not believe that I was planning on quitting as soon as I had a job lined up, and now they were firing me because I said "Okay" in a frustrated tone.

They explained that I wasn't being fired, but that we needed some space and that the days off were going to be paid. They wanted me to go home and relax and come back on Monday as my "normal" self. I told them I was fine and didn't need to miss work. I explained that I was frustrated, but as they could tell, my attitude was already back to normal. The mom then piped up again and said "Well I'm not fine. I don't want to be around you. I can't even look at you. I need a break from you because of the way you spoke to me." Again guys, because I said the word "Okay" to them. It wasn't like I yelled the word or even said it with an attitude -- the best way to describe it was very short and cold.

I left work and went home and binge watched Grey's Anatomy. On Saturday I had a job interview and was offered the job on the spot and accepted. I went back to work on Monday prepared to give my notice. We sat down to discuss what I had "learned" during my paid time off and I told them that I learned I wasn't the right nanny for them. The look on their faces was priceless. I took the high road and instead of listing off why they were losing a good nanny, I implied they deserved better than me. I said, "I've worked at a lot of nanny jobs and never in my life have I had to be talked to this many times. It's a weekly thing at this position. There's always something I've done that is not up to your standards. That is not normal. You all deserve a nanny who can meet your expectations. You deserve a nanny you won't have to talk to as often as you talk to me. So, this is my two weeks notice."

They were shocked. They begged me to stay. I reiterated that I could not meet their expectations and that they deserved better, knowing full well they would never get "better" because they expected perfection. After going back and forth a bit, they finally came to terms with the reality of the situation. They realized there was no convincing me to stay. The dad then said "Well, we really don't want you to quit, but if that's what you have to do, we understand. We do expect perfection so if you don't think you can meet that expectation, then we understand why you have to leave." I'm not kidding -- he legitimately said that. They then decided not to have me come back at all and just paid me for the two weeks. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. For so long I felt so stuck when in reality I wasn't stuck at all! Once I started looking, I found a job very quickly, and an amazing job at that! I ended up staying at my next position for two years and only left it because I relocated. So, if you feel stuck in a bad nanny job, do something about it! Start looking to see what's out there -- you might be surprised just how quickly you can regain your happiness and freedom :)