When moving to Bahrain, one of the very first things you are made aware of by others who have lived here is that it is very easy, affordable, and highly recommended to get a housemaid or nanny. “OMG, really?! Yessssss please,” is how I reacted. Since moving here, I’ve been a part of many discussions regarding hiring a nanny or housemaid. The questions and discussions are philosophical, ethical, and mostly about logistics. While I have those same questions, I’m also experiencing a nanny conundrum different from many of the other American military spouses–I’m being perceived AS the nanny.
I am humbled. Embarrassed. Mad. Yes, even sad.
Before we moved to Bahrain I had a moment where I was crying to my husband because I heard the majority of the service industry, housemaids, and nannies in Bahrain are Filipina. I was crying because for an untrained eye (uhhemmm, Bahrainis) I can easily pass as a Filipina. I was upset because I didn’t want everyone to think I was Trace and Izzy’s nanny. Tad assured me I did NOT look anything like a Filipina and not to worry. His advice and insights are often a grounding dose of reality for me so I shook it off and didn’t think of it again.
Two weeks into our time in Bahrain my fear came to fruition. As I described in First 30 days in Bahrain, a Filipina nanny, two of them actually, thought I was a Filipina nanny taking care of Trace and Izzy. At the time, I laughed it off like no big deal. Inside, I crumbled. Internally, I was bawling again. Of course the first thing I did when we got back to the room was text Tad and let him know what happened. You know, the real mature, passive-aggressive “I was right” text. Secondly, I texted my girlfriends knowing I’d get their unconditional support. I was right, they sent me the perfect texts reminding me how awful that must feel and that I was sexier than a nanny. Haha, ok I may have read between their lines to make myself feel better but you all have those friends too. So you get it.
All you moms reading this, would you be bothered if someone called you your child’s “nanny”? Am I being way too sensitive?
Obviously, it still bothers me. In the past, I might have pretended like it didn’t bother me. However, all my years of yoga have trained me to run straight into my discomfort and triggers. I truly believe the things that trigger us most are our biggest teachers. Now, I’m not one to just push it aside. Why hold onto that stuff? Better out than in, as I say.
So I’ve begun to reflect. Really try and figure out WHY does being called and perceived a nanny feel so hurtful? In a country where housemaids and nannies are in almost every household, maybe including ours when we find the right match, I feel like this is an important quandary to figure out so I can truly respect the cultural norms and nannies here and across the globe. I also want to walk a little taller and spread the Aloha with my kiddos around Bahrain without this hanging over my head. Heads up, this blog is not about Bahrain and more an inner monologue of my “nanny conundrum”. Please only read on if you have a sincere interest in helping me grow as a person.
So, why am I so triggered by being perceived as and called the nanny? This is what I’ve figured out so far…
Nanny is just a word and title, right? “Who cares, let it go,” I tell myself. But I can’t.
Clearly, my ego feels belittled and my heart sad, angry, and hurt. In writing this, it is clear I believe those titles are somehow degrading and insulting. Me, a housemaid? Me, a nanny? “I’m better than that,” my ego cries. But am I?
My ego is hurt just thinking about being called a “nanny” because 1. a nanny couldn’t love my children the way I do, 2. all that charm and brilliance Trace and Izzy display wouldn’t be given due credit to me (which I realize is an insult to all the wonderful people who have shaped my children’s lives) and 3. because I’m THEIR MOM. My vagina has the memory and scars to prove it. Forever. For all those reasons, that’s why I don’t like being called their nanny.
I realize no harm is meant by other’s preconceived notions. I mean I fit the image: short, Asian looking, English speaking (yes, most everyone in Bahrain speaks English), walking with or toting two toddlers (but obviously they look like me, as I’ve been told), and really cute. Haha, had to add that. So yes, I see how I fit the image. Aaaand, it still hurts. I see this as an opportunity to grow, to become more patient, compassionate, and break through my own barriers of conditioning. Hopefully, someone reading this has a clear perception of what’s really going on and can call me out or drop a great big wisdom bomb on me. Seriously, I’m open to your insights, thoughts, or reflections. Please share them.
I laugh as I write because of all the things I’ve seen, witnessed, and learned so far in Bahrain, THIS is what’s been the most challenging for me. I’ve traveled quite a bit in the past so a lot of the other stuff (the smells, the dirt, the driving, the stares, the physical reactions) doesn’t really phase me. Teachings come in the most unexpected ways.
Anyway, I promise more pictures of the kids and house soon. We did move into a beautiful house in the heart and soul of Adliya and are starting to get settled. Feels so good. I only get to write when the kids are napping. So send good wishes for long restful naps. I love you all! And don’t forget to drop a bomb of insight or reflection for me. Thank you.
Aloha & Namaste