Losing Maia

Sophie started school yesterday. It’s pre- pre-school, really, but it still felt like starting school, and I was nervous. But she did fabulously. She loves being around other kids, she has a good new caregiver who helps her adjust to not being the center of attention, she finished the day up happily and slept better last night than usual. I think we may finally have found reliable childcare.

But this means losing Maia.  Maia was Sophie’s nanny on Mondays & Tuesdays in the fall. This spring, when my schedule switched to Tuesdays & Thursdays, Maia couldn’t switch schedules too, so we’ve been scrambling for Thursday childcare and now we’re finally admitting that it’s best for Sophie to have a consistent Tuesday Thursday routine.

This took me a while to admit because Maia is the world’s best nanny. The first time Maia came, Sophie was 3 months old and had never been away from me for more than an hour. Maia spent her first afternoon here holding my pajama-top in one hand and Sophie in the other, so that Sophie would be calmed by my familiar smell. Maia is brilliant that way. When Sophie was constipated, Maia gave her a healing massage. When Sophie was excitable with nearly all her other favorite people, Maia instead gave her a sense of calmness.  When Sophie was resisting eating any food other than my breastmilk directly, Maia found ways to feed her — and then gently showed her techniques to me, too. Maia is a diplomat as well as an artist.

Maia made incredibly creative crafts for Sophie: a beautiful collaged card, a heart of flour-paste, and even a lace veil that Sophie loved wearing to our wedding. I was looking forward to when Sophie would be old enough to make art with Maia.  Whenever I didn’t see Maia in time to hear how Sophie’s time with her had gone, Maia sent me beautifully poetic emails: “Sophie and I went for a walk and I think she got drunk on all the colors and shapes…” “We played peek-a-boo with a scarf and Sophie laughed so hard that little tears rolled down her cheeks…” Whenever Sophie hears someone speaking Spanish to her, her whole body relaxes, because I think she feels as if Maia is near. (Maia also speaks Hebrew & Italian & I think Yiddish too, but she chose to start Sophie on just Spanish.) When my mother visited last month, one of her favorite days was the day she spent just chatting with Maia while they watched Sophie together.

We were lucky to have Maia for Sophie’s first caregiver. Sophie and I are both going to miss her.

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