I was brought up by my nanny when I was a wee little baby. She was introduced to my mum by a close friend and plop into her arms I went.
As a few other babies were also in her care, I picked up social skills (you know, jealousy, toy-grabbing and self-defence), and apparently got so good at it that in the end she gave up the other babies and only continued to take care of me. All the way through the middle primary years.
You can tell I said that with a hint of pride.
So as the months and years passed, my nanny – originally envisaged to be a temporary carer – became my grand-godmother (“grand” simply because she was already advanced in age and her daughter had took on the position of godmother in my life).
I was sticky-tape close to the family, perhaps more so than my own in those carefree growing up years.
They never pressurised me through school. I just cruised by somehow. At that time, school was a breeze also, right?
I grew up in sunday school singing kiddy songs about Jesus, colouring worksheets, acting in plays, and learning about the world. Although I disliked waking up early, I was pretty much made to do it. No excuses. I reserved the right to be grumpy and dislikeable the whole morning though.
I don’t know how I would have turned out if I had not come under their care. At that time, my family was a little dysfunctional and my parents were caught up in their own lives. I felt sad every weekend when it was time to go home. I was that attached to my nanny as a little girl.
It’s funny how as a child, the time and love invested by my nanny and godmother could have such a profound impact on me. I remember even as a kid, I could still love with a kind of fierce love. When my nanny was old and her bones grew weak, I can distinctly remember the feeling of helplessness and wanting to do all I can to protect and to help her.
She influenced me in ways I can’t fully express. I saw how she lived her life with two children, without her husband beside her. I saw how she endured difficult moments with family members, and how she persevered. She embodied strength to me, even when I was still too young to understand it.
Even though she’s long gone to a better place, she’s left an enduring legacy in my life.
My godmother now is heavily involved in my kids’ lives. Despite being close to 70, she’s also my friend on facebook, and continues to be my most ardent blog reader (I suspect).
The reason why I’m sharing this story is because some of you may have gone through similar situations. But there was that one kind soul, a family friend perhaps, who brought you out of that dark stubborn world you were in, and into the light. We may have struggled with the issues of feeling unloved or even unwanted, but you ARE deeply loved, by a God who knows you by name.
The other reason why I’m sharing this is because I’m struck by the different ways in which we leave imprints on our children’s lives by the things we do or don’t do, say or don’t say. Whether we are conscious or not, we are influencing and guiding our children by the way we live our lives.
May is the month we celebrate our mums. This mother’s day, I want to honour my godmother, and my nanny. I also want to thank my mum, who’s become the most essential grandparent and care-giver to my kids. (She often jokes that she’s repaying her debt now by taking care of my dynamic duo.)
Without these three special women, I wouldn’t be who I am today.
Thank you for living out what this quote can only describe:
“But your role in your family will never end. You will never be replaced. Your influence and the need for your influence never ends. Even after you are gone, your children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren will still look to you as their parent or grandparent. Family is one of the few permanent roles in life, perhaps the only truly permanent role.”
– Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families
What were your growing up years like? Who had the biggest influence in your life?