The Nanny Diaries by CMR buddy Julie Robison:
Four months ago, I started a new job as a Jack-of-all-Trades. I create and acquire art, and open galleries. I’m into urban planning, total destruction and crisis control. I have daily culinary adventures. I read dozens of books and answer even more questions.
Yes, I’m a babysitter.
There is little glamour in telling people about the 30 hours I spend each week caring for a 1 and 4 year old. I drink 3 cups of coffee in the morning. I go home physically and emotionally drained, only to tell my family how much fun the day was; or if it was not fun, how tomorrow will be better. St. Philip Neri’s prayer is often on my mind: “Get me through today Lord, and I will not fear tomorrow.”
For no matter how much I’ve grown to love these kids, some days are horrible. Tantrums. Crying. Unrepentant disobedience. The outsider may ask, “Why continue at this job? Why babysit? How can such menial labor be worth the headaches?”
I used to be a statehouse reporter. When a former mentor found out I quit journalism, he told me that I was wasting my talent. But no job is forever, and no work experience is wasted if it challenges you to become a better human being. Work is a human activity: no matter what field a person is in, it touches another.
Which begs the question: How do you enrich others through your job? How are you sanctifying yourself while at work?
For me, I have learned to be more patient. I’ve learned to love better through serving the whims and wants of small children. And my talents are more than well-arranged words on a page. I can keep calm and soothe a crying child. I can entertain the restless and make babies laugh. I can learn words of songs just made up, and carry the tune too. I can take directions and give them. I can play soccer, dance ballet and catch invisible friends while simultaneously pushing two children in swings.
Now, more than ever, I use all talents I possess, and seek more. I know love much more as an action than any kind of feeling. It is a blessing to work in a place where one can tangibly see the fruits of one’s labors. I am making a difference and impression on two young lives, as they are on mine.
This Lent, one of my spiritual sacrifices will be taking extra note of the good in my life. Every day, I will write down three blessings. For example, today A) the 1 year old napped well, B) the 4 year old and I had fun painting and making valentines, and C) I spent time with a dear friend.
Christians believe that creation and mankind are intrinsically good because God made them; and though fallen because of our tendency to sin, why would we choose to dwell on the bad when there is so much good to be found?
Christian convert Sheldon Vanauken shares in ‘A Severe Mercy’ that, “The best argument for Christianity is Christians: their joy, their certainty, their completeness. …Indeed, there are impressive indications that the positive quality of joy is in Christianity- and possibly nowhere else. If that were certain, it would be proof of a very high order.”
I invite you to join me as I counter tendencies toward pessimistic distractions in the private and public spheres. Let your love be contagious, be renewed in prayer and fasting, and ever reflected in the work of your hands.