My childhood was profoundly impacted by the influence of three great, yet very different, women. One of them joined the saints in glory a few years ago, and after a long, strong battle, got to hear the words she told me time and time again she could not wait to hear:
“Well done, good and faithful servant.”
I didn’t realize it at the time, or at least not until I was a super self-conscious tween, that most children don’t grow up with one primary childcare provider, unless it’s one of their parents. With two parents devoted to their careers, my sister and I spent our weekdays under the watchful eye of our Nanny. She had already raised her family, but in the interim between empty nesting and retirement, gave of herself tirelessly and endlessly to ours.
It wasn’t until I had my own children that I realized what a strong impact Nanny had on my life and how much she had shaped the person I became. As I go through my days at home with our girls, I hear Nanny’s words coming from my mouth time and time again. And with each piece of wisdom imparted to the next generation of young ladies, it becomes more and more evident: All I really needed to know, I learned from Nanny.
“Take care of what’s been given to you, or else you won’t have it anymore.”
“Make sure you always appear neat. Take pride in your appearance. Then people will take you seriously.”
“Lying doesn’t do anyone any good. You’ll move on with life faster if you just tell the truth.”
“Haste makes waste. There’s no point in doing something unless you do it right.”
Beyond early childhood, Nanny kept imparting her wisdom to me, and it stuck, even when I didn’t want to hear it.
“Don’t slouch. He’s not worth dating if you feel like you have to be shorter than him.”
“You’re going to have to keep working hard, even if you don’t like it. Nothing’s going to be handed to you that’s worth anything.”
“Everyone’s different. As long as you’re being nice, I don’t see any reason why you won’t get along.”
“If you don’t have respect for yourself, no one else will either.”
After I moved away for college and beyond, Nanny and I still spoke with regularity. The wisdom kept coming, especially in the moments when I needed it most.
“If he’s ever upset about something, cook a whole bunch of food. Men are never unhappy when they’re eating.”
“If the baby won’t sleep, just feed her. And then love on her. That’s all she needs.”
“Don’t show partiality towards any of the children. Jealousy makes everyone act ugly.”
“Who’s taking care of you? I hope it’s you- you’ll do it best!”
“Honor and keep your promises. No matter what.”
In addition to a lifetime of priceless advice, Nanny showed me, throughout every step of her journey with us, the importance of patience. My natural inclination is to be anything but; so realizing the importance of this trait was hard work. In the midst of the most trying days with our girls, I dig down deep and channel my inner-Nanny, smile, and remind myself that, at the end of the day, it’s not a big deal. As long as they know they’re meant to be kind, hard working, and respectful to everyone they meet, I’ve done my job.
Or, in truth, Nanny is still doing her job, and will keep doing it for years and years to come. This great lady will be deeply missed, but her legacy lives on in the lives of all who knew her, and in the girls she so profoundly helped shaped into women.