Saturday, June 20, 2009

Easy choices

Next week, my former nanny's son is graduating from high school and will be off to college in the fall. It made me think about the choices she had to make in her life.

Like many immigrants, she came to America alone, leaving her two children behind, then aged 10 & 12. For two years, she worked as much as she could and lived as simply as possible, saving up to bring them here. She had been here a year when she came to work for me, caring for my premature newborn twins, while family in Cameroon cared for her children. I was heartbroken every time I thought of them. I couldn't bear the thought of being separated from my babies for two hours, let alone two years.

When her children arrived, I embraced them as family. When my nanny had an emergency appendectomy, I brought them to my house to stay until she was home from the hospital. After she no longer worked for me, her son began babysitting for the twins a few times a month. In some ways, I guess I'm still trying to make up for keeping them apart, although it was not my decision to make. Now that he is graduating from college, I've been reflecting on my own need for independence from my children, and realizing that my choices have all been easy in comparison to hers. I feel lucky. And I hope that I'm never faced with the difficult choices she had to make.