keeping count

i am in a contest with my son’s nanny. the contest is to see who can make him love her more and it has been ongoing for the past year. the reason i only bring it up now is because i feel i am finally winning.

i took it for granted when i got pregnant that i would work until i gave birth, go on maternity leave, then go back working. being a stay-at-home mom was never an option, both for financial reasons and to keep my sanity.

when we hired our nanny when roque was three months old, we had misgivings about her age (she was then 15-going-on-16), but when we saw how capable she was, we considered ourselves lucky. it’s been a year and she’s still with us, a feat considering all the nanny horror stories i’ve heard. understand that she’s not perfect and i do have moments of wanting to scream in frustration, but all told, she takes good care of roque and seems genuinely fond of him, and in a world full of viral videos of nannies hitting babies they’re supposed to take care of, that is more than enough.

on average, they spend ten hours a day together, and those aren’t just random hours, but the best part of each day. i only get to spend time with my son early in the morning and during the evening, when i am either rushing to get ready for work or tired from work.

logic tells me that all that time spent in each other’s company will, of course, foster closeness, but when i saw how they played and giggled together, and how she seemed to know exactly what he needed, my heart ached.

he kissed her cheek before he would mine.

because i cannot not work, i do everything i can to make the most of my time with him. roque would start calling out at around 5am and my body would automatically get up even as my mind desperately pleaded for it to stop and stay in bed. part asleep, part irritated, part resigned and plenty tired, i was also infinitely grateful that i am able to start my day with him.

we have our little routine: after his morning milk and diaper change, i would gather him in my arms and we would stand by the window and look out into the quiet of the early morning. we would spend endless minutes turning the light on and off, and he would smile proudly when he’s able to do it on his own, something that happens more and more often now. he would insist on leaving the bedroom and going to the bookshelf, where we would get his favorite book and look for the tiger yet again. his eyes would light up and he would smile and excitedly say ‘tiger!’ the moment he sees the vivid orange color of the animal that fascinates him so much.

when we go out as a family during weekends, alvin and i leave the nanny at home, opting to take care of roque on our own. we’ve received confused reactions about this decision, but we wanted roque to know that when mommy and dada are around, we take care of him.

now, he turns to us first when he needs something and when he has an interesting discovery he wants to share. we are his first choice as playmates. he kisses us for no reason, then smiles shyly when we express happiness at the show of affection.

i know that time-wise, i can never win over the nanny, but i am determined to make my few hours with my son count. i am determined to make him understand that being physically there is not the only way to show how much he is loved.

now, i know that this contest is probably just in my head. my nanny would probably just as soon leave if she could afford to, and it is unfortunate that she had to leave her home and work so far from it, but sometimes, a mother’s heart doesn’t process reason very well, and so i silently keep tally: one point for her, one point for me. no matter that i am the only one keeping count.



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