A Tight Ship

I worked as a nanny before I had children and over the span of fifteen years, I cared for eleven children. Eleven gorgeous and loving children.

I was hired for my no-nonsense ways. I was praised for the manners that I instilled in my charges and I was retained because I taught them to respect themselves and others.

I knew how to get them to eat a variety of foods, how to nip sassiness in the bud.

Potty training was effortless.

I ran a tight ship.  I had all of the answers and I was paid well for employing them.

Then I had kids.

Well, actually, I started strong.  Katie’s first three and a half years of life were managed with a firm hand. Our expectations have always been high and we’ve been happy to see that the standards that we hold her to have paid off.  Aside from a few short stages here and there, we’ve been so pleased with her behavior.

Until this month.

I spent this month reliving my own childhood. I wrote 51,748 words about what it was like to be a child.

At times I am grateful for my memory.  I can recall the tiniest details of my childhood.

At times I wish I didn’t retain so much.  I wish I couldn’t remember the times when I felt sad, or hurt, or forgotten.  All kids feel those emotions and most people seem to forget those moments by the time they reach adulthood.  This memory of mine holds onto everything.

The times when I felt that I didn’t have a voice or that no one understood me are the memories that have thrown a wrench in my parenting skills this month.

I’m seeing everything through Katie’s eyes and it has made me go all soft.

I’ve caught myself easing up and making allowances that I’ve never made.  I’ve allowed room for negotiation and renegotiation.  I’ve overlooked some sassiness here and there, excusing it as too little sleep, a growth spurt, the time change, the planets not being aligned.

And she smells blood.

While I know that she is probably happier in the moment, as I’m making excuses for her, I know that I’m doing her a disservice by loosening up so much.

While I hope to always remember to consider her feelings and opinions, she is a child and still needs me to guide her.

I need to snap out of this and quick.  Before she claims head of household.


  1. Cheryl @ Mommypants mommypants.com

    HA! It's called picking your battles. Even the easiest of kids snap out of it at some point and realize THEY are the ones who truly hold the power. And you're not doing her a disservice. You're allowing her to test boundaries, and to enjoy being a child who is very, very loved. You know what? You need to ease up on yourself, my friend. You're doing an AMAZING job.

  2. businesslorelei

    I'm dying…"She smells blood."

    They do, you know. Like hounds. They can sense fear. They instinctively know where the weakness are…

    They circle their prey…

    And then….they strike!

    With things like, "Work! Work! Work! All you do is work! Why don't you just go back to work!"


    They know where to sink the knife, and they know the art of the twist.

    How? How does a child who barely has object permanence do this?

    I don't know.

    But they do.

    Hang tough. We're all with you.

    We parents have to stick together.

  3. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    Thank you for that, my sweet friend.
    I'm trying to find that balance between letting her make safe, low stakes choices and being a complete control freak. There has to be a happy medium, right?
    She is, indeed, very, very loved. Sigh.

  4. andygirl

    kids CAN smell blood! they know. oh they know. ;)

    yeah I don't know what I'm talking about. don't listen to me.

    also: that photo? gorgeous!

  5. LOL!! THey absolutely smell blood. Don't be so hard on yourself….I do the same thing too. Tough for awhile…and then -WHAM-I go all loosey-goosey. Do you best…and forget the rest!!

  6. Oh dear, having been there, I hate to tell you…she is already the Queen. You just better sneak in at night when she's dead asleep and dreaming to take that tiara and scepter from her. Otherwise, you are in for a long ride! Seriously, I did the same thing so much…projecting my needs, my desires, my pain, my struggle, my excuses, etc., onto my children that I ended up crippling them in ways that they might not have been crippled otherwise! Take my advice and realize that her life will not be a do-over for you. She is she and you are you! Hallelujah! Have fun!

  7. Aunt Darlene

    Being firm is one thing. Doing what others expect of you is another. No one knows your child better than you, so do what you think is best and make adjustments along the way. Instill who you are Nichole, and your kids will be wonderful people. Love and Miss you guys!

  8. No kidding, but I was feeling the same way today. My son was really unruly and rowdy at our family thanksgiving. I wondered if I am too strict of a parent and how do I look in other people’s eye as far as parenting goes. Sometimes parenting is no fun. But if he ( and your kiddos also) turn out well adjusted and decent humans I think I can be ok with being firm.

  9. Yuliya shesuggests.com

    Seriously one look at that face and she could have whatever she wanted…so good luck with that!

  10. Nancy C npoj.blogspot.com

    If I’ve learned anything about parenting, I’ve learned that every parent has their line. Lines may be different from person to person. If you feel like she’a pushing that line, trust your voice.

    And yes, memory is a blessing and a curse.

  11. ksluiter

    he he…I am picturing your sweet little Katie sniffing the air and smiling devilishly as she realized momma is feeling a bit soft lately.

  12. Miss_Scarlett99

    both mine smell blood and are circling :p The problem is I am firm, their father is not and HE has been the one home with them lately while he is unemployed.


  13. I can send you my oldest. You'll get back in shape quick. :) I'm only semi-soft, and in my old age, I'm getting meaner. My kids are getting it. Ha. (or maybe I am just fooling myself).

    Congratulations again on completing NaNo!

  14. Renee 2old2tap.blogspot.com

    Just think of it as entering a new phase in your relationship with her. It’s ok to re-evaluate and set new goals and lines.

  15. That "she smells blood" line was so spot on. Kids are so good at that it's scary.

  16. Sherri oldtweener.blogspot.com/

    Oh, I look at her picture and I just want to give her everything too! And overlook any potential sassiness or sticking-out-of-the-tongue! I think you are at a crossroads that's so hard. You have so many potential things that are coming down the pipe that you will probably have to start picking and choosing what is set in stone and what's flexible. I always thought it would get easier! It seems to get harder in some ways….I pick my battles each and every day with my two, sometimes going soft when it isn't that important, but standing VERY firm on things that matter most to me.

    Anyone would have been lucky to have had you as a nanny, I would say!

  17. kris

    Hee hee!

    My daughters can sniff out weakness as they walk into a room.

    You have been busy looking into your past. That's a very good thing. But it makes you soft and distracted.

    Is it bad that I am rooting for Katie to push the boundaries a little?

    I am a big fan of sass.

  18. ~*Jess*~ straighttalkjess.com

    Lol, I'm sure you are fantastic. And it is sad to remember certain things because it scares you into thinking they may remember too.

    Also? You sound like you were a fabulous nanny!

  19. It all changes once you have kids of your own… or so I've been told.

    I haven't been at this very long myself, but I do believe children can smell blood. :)

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