I Am Not Super Mama



My husband and I always wanted a big(ish) family. Though we never planned on having four children in three years, it’s been a crazy fun roller-coaster ride.

At 30 weeks pregnant with our third child, while busy chasing a one and two year old around and surviving on strange CrockPot meal concoctions, my doctor put me on bedrest.

Everything came to a screeching halt until we found an amazing nanny to help during the day. Hired help was really the only option for us to make it until the end of that pregnancy. And it felt natural and right to continue getting help after the birth of our third and fourth children.

Currently, I am on the look out for a new part-time nanny for my four children, and am interviewing a few potential options. In the process of trying to find a new babysitter for our family, I have posted on a few Facebook groups, asking around if anyone knows anyone looking for nanny work 2-3 days a week. And truthfully, I have been embarrassed to admit this so publicly: I need help pretty much every day of the week. 

Grocery shopping with all the littles.
Grocery shopping with all the littles. It isn’t always very productive, but at least we get out of the house.

I don’t know when it all changed and having a nanny became a bit taboo. Traditionally, women have had help around the house. Not all mothers, of course. Laura Ingalls Wilder’s mother, Caroline, had absolutely no help while raising her four children and managing life as a pioneer woman; but I think she’s the exception, not the rule.

Until the last 50 years, families lived close to grandparents, aunts, and cousins. My mom and sister are very helpful and hands-on; but — and it’s a big caveat — they both live in Russia, so there not exactly around to pop in during the witching hour and help get supper on the table.

These days,  when I mention that I am looking for a new babysitter, this frequently elicits a raised eyebrow and comments like this one, “So you just can’t handle them by yourself?”

My husband, good man that he is, tells me regularly, “I could never do your job. I don’t know how you do it.” And without a good nanny to help me during the long, long afternoon hours, I really can barely do the job.

Our super nanny lending a hand with my children at my sister-in-law’s wedding.

Very occasionally, I have used this time for a lunch with girlfriends and a pedicure. I really do think that is a worthwhile way to spend time away from my children; but nine times out of ten, I am in the kitchen cooking a meal or folding laundry while the sitter is running laps in the backyard with my children.

I do try to find some time to rest while the sitter is here, but we’re talking 30-45 minutes of downtime (about how much time most people take for lunch if they have a 9-to-5 job). Mostly, the sitter and I tag team playing with the children and doing chores. I’ll read to the kids for 30 minutes while she puts away laundry, or I’ll prepare supper while she does puzzles with the children.

Of course, I am very much aware that I am privileged that our family budget allows for part-time help at home. I realize that for many bone-weary, stay-at-home mothers this is not an option. That is not my point, though. I want the whole way we think about this to be different. There’s something about the mentality that I should be able to do it all myself that just irks me.

I don’t know when this whole super-mama stuff started, but I am throwing in the towel. I need help managing my household and caring for my children, and I am thankful for the babysitters who have come and gone and loved and taken care of my children.

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Emma is the wife of Ford and mother to four: Lewis (2010), Teddy (2011), Archibald (2013), and Addie Cate (2013). She is both a biological and adoptive mom and wouldn’t have it any other way. Emma and Ford tied the knot in 2009, and quickly went from a family of two to six. Before Texas was home, she spent her college years in Mississippi; and her childhood in St. Petersburg, Russia where her parents serve as Protestant missionaries. Though she is fluent in Russian, she doesn’t find much use for it on playdates in the metroplex. When she is not buying diapers in bulk, Emma enjoys re-reading Austen and Bronte novels, napping, and the occasional visit to the Kimbell Art Museum. She dreams of one day sleeping in, but till then she is enjoying the long, lovely days at home with her crew of toddlers and babies.


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