the other day, my blonde-haired blue-eyed 7 year-old charge looked at me and said, “what do you wanna be when you…” and there he stopped, an impish grin forming across his sun-splashed summer face. he knew i was already a grown-up, but he also understood that being a nanny isn’t a response to the question of what you want to be when you grow up. babysitting is something you do, not something you are. and though he didn’t want to offend me, he did want an answer to his question. he thought about it for a moment and then said, “well, besides this, what do you want to be when you grow up? i wanna be an engineer—so i can make roller coasters.”
my answer is a little more complicated. i’m still not entirely sure.
here are some of the things that i am: 34, a recent college grad, a struggling writer, a nanny. i’m someone whose sister once qualified my introduction by saying: “this is my sister–she’s not married and doesn’t have any kids.” i’m a girlfriend to an older man with three adolescent kids who wouldn’t be too disappointed if i accidentally stumbled in front of a truck, or decided that i did actually want kids of my own and thus had to leave their father, who has explicitly and repeatedly told me from the very start that he is done having kids. i am also a jew while said older man is irish catholic, so my parents are thrilled.
surely not where i thought i’d be almost halfway through my fourth decade.
and when I searched for blogs that spoke to a life like mine, i couldn’t exactly find one. what i found were lots that spoke to my different parts—blogs about women without kids, blogs for stepmothers and blended families (holy shit—am I really basically a stepmother?), blogs about nannies, about educated nannies, those for writers, for Jews, and I’m sure there are those intended as a support group for women in long-term relationships with irish men.
what I haven’t found is something that speaks to more than my pieces. yes, i’m an aunt and a sister and a daughter, trying to figure out how to be good at those things while still taking care of myself. and yes, i’m a woman in the middle of the very complicated relationship between a divorced dad and his kids, wanting so badly for them to like me and trying not to take it personally when, upon noticing my presence, they look at me like i just ruined their christmas. no, i mean literally—when i came to christmas dessert last year, they looked at me as if i’d taken a knife and gutted the bearded fat man himself. who invited the jew to christmas?
but i’m also just another profoundly flawed person, desperately homesick for a sense that i belong—a feeling that i often mistake for a familiar one, one that i used to be filled wi
th and have since lost. for so long i assumed that that sense of not being alone that i craved so desperately was something i had to look back for, instead of forward. but here it is, the piece of information that i had to go through so many false gods to find: it’s not something that’s given, it’s something you have to create. took me a long time to figure that one out and only recently have i begun my creation. so here I am, trying to “find” myself in my 30s when it feels like everyone else did that in their 20s.
so where’s the blog for all that? for someone looking to live an authentic life in a superficial world of selfies and insta-fame? who doesn’t want to conform to what her parents want her life to look like? for someone who makes really bad choices when she’s afraid, but doesn’t always know how to walk through the fear with grace and dignity? for someone who’s still grappling with things that should have been worked out a long time ago? like what kind of person she wants to be, and how she wants to spend her time on this planet.
i couldn’t find it so i’ve decided to write it.