NOT JUST “THE NANNY”
How 10 years of being a nanny taught me to become a part of a family circuit and do a job that matters. When being a nanny becomes more than just your job, featuring photos from my days as a nanny.
I simply can’t speak enough on how incredible my journey as a nanny was. I was given the opportunity to be a truly valuable piece of growth in multiple families lives. Although I am currently childless myself, I have had the joy of helping raise a handful of children from newborn into childhood. Each family brought me new lessons on parenting, gave me new perspectives on life and matured me in a million ways. Nannying is the job that lead me to my career as a Newborn Photographer.
Being the oldest in my family my maternal instincts where present even early on in life. My mother recalls me at five years of age trying to climb up on the kitchen table to feed my younger brother all on my own. She will laugh as she tells stories about my request to change diapers, as I would watch in awe as she tended to my brother. Around the age of thirteen not much had changed and I was deemed the family sitter for my brother and two youngest cousins. By fifteen I had landed my first real babysitting gig for the wonderful Kubehl family. I would walk down the street a few houses to watch after precious 6-month-old Jake and 3-year-old Luke. I will never forget my first day on the job as Sarah left to run a few errands while Luke was down for a nap. I sat perched on the couch with Jake bundled up in my arms afraid to put even put him down when Luke woke up from his nap to find me in the living-room in place of mom. Luke began to howl uncontrollably setting off his baby brother as they began to cry in unison. Of course, it took me awhile, but I managed to get the situation under control and I continued babysitting for the Kubehl family all the way up until the day I left for college. I would come home to Dallas and would stop by and visit the Kubehls from time to time and Sarah would sit and commend me for being such a great sitter and remark on my growing up. I will never forget her tell me, “You are going to make a great mother someday, Lindsay.” I was so lucky to have such a sweet beginning to babysitting and I now watch in awe as their family grows, now plus one with their daughter Olivia. I was excited to have photographed the Kubhels this past winter while visiting in Dallas. It is such a joy to have come full circle with this family, from my first job ever to what now will be my forever job serving people with my creativity.
Once I was in college I began to babysit again around my junior year. I started picking up a few shifts from my roommate watching the kids of the family she nannied for. It wasn’t long before I was helping with the Chima family full time. The Chima’s had two sweet and my goodness stunning girls. Mia (my mia-mia) at age 2 and Tobe at age 8 challenged me as I grew to learn how to work around a busy schedule. Both children and parents lived incredibly busy lives. Occasionally when the parents traveled for work, my roommate and I would keep the girls overnight. While our friends went out to parties for the night, we would stay in and cook up dinner, watch movies and help with homework for two little kids. Even with busy schedules, Fumbi and George made a point to make me feel welcome and like a part of the family. I remember I once brought my mother over to visit, as the Chima’s where my family away from family after all. George had me and my mom both in tears as he talked about how much I meant to their family. Both parents where extremely successful in their professional lives, making parenting almost impossible without a little help here and there. I began to realize how much my job really made a difference in this family’s life as I took over the roll of mom and dad when they couldn’t be there. A year after working with their wonderful family Fumbi and the girls came to my wedding in Dallas. I was so lucky to have Tobe and Mia as my flower girls on the big day. in 2015 Fumbi was announced as the new CIO for Burberry leaving behind her position as CIO of Walmart Asia. She was also rewarded the Face to Face recognition in 2014 for her success. With such a talented mother and father it will be no surprise when Tobe and Mia become two incredibly successful women and I will so much enjoy watching as they do.
When I first moved to Little Rock, Arkansas I was pretty uncertain of what I wanted to do with my professional life. I had just graduated college and was a couple months away from being married when I began working with the Smith family. Cary and Marty Smith, an air-force family, where stationed in Arkansas with their new baby Gus and creative four-year-old daughter Ruby. When Marty was unexpectedly deployed for 6-months, I really learned how important (and at times testing) my job was. Being in the air-force Cary and Marty had moved quite a few times causing them to lack family support in Little Rock and they really depended on me to be there. I have grown so much respect for military families and especially for the spouses of those who serve. While Marty was deployed Carry juggled working in the creative field, soothing a five year who battled fear and anxiety and a baby going through health and feeding complications. To say this momma had a lot on her plate would be an understatement. Watching Cary fight to keep her family strong while Marty was gone was an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. Cary became someone who really inspired me to chase my artistic ambitions and encouraged me to be successful in whatever I pursued. It was because of her encouragement that I choose to leave behind my graduate program and begin to purse photography.
After a year Cary and Marty where re-assigned to a post in Maine and I was in search for a new position. I had just begun to dabble in photography when I met Lana Riley. I laugh now as I clearly remember pulling up to their home and walking up to the front door to be startled by Nina, their sweet but large and protective dog (YA’LL, SHE WAS A BEAST!). I almost wet my pants turning to run back to the car in fear. Later I would witness a handful of poorly mistaken UPS deliverymen experience that same fear. Cade was a mere 3 weeks old when I met him and Caroline was darling as ever at 3 years old. I can’t say enough what this family brought into my life. Although I grew a bond with every family I nannied for, this one was especially significant in my heart. Lana quickly learned just how I ticked and our communication grew strong because of it. Caroline and I bonded quickly and I watched first handed as that quirky three year old grew up. Caroline was resilient, tough, extremely mature for her age, loving and sweet, and silly as can be. She would have me laugh till I was in tears and just like her Mom, could tell when I was needing just a little extra love. Cade, my little peanut, sprouted right in front of my eyes as I watched him change from a tiny new baby to a charismatic goofy 2 year old and a bundle of energy at 3. When he was a few months old I would carry him around in a sling carrier and people would laugh because his tiny head would poke out the top like a kangaroo in a pouch. “What beautiful children”, women at the grocery store would say, and I would thank them replying “I can’t take the credit!”. The bond between this family and me grew strong and Lana taught me in many ways what it meant to be a mother. Lana and Clay showed Eric and I what great parenting looks like, and if the going got tough Caroline showed me to love a little stronger and Cade showed me to laugh a little harder. The Riley’s really made me part of the family. I have to say leaving this job was the hardest part about leaving Arkansas. On the last day at my job we celebrated with a “goodbye” photo shoot. It was so fun to do the two jobs I love most together. After the session there was not a dry eye as we all said goodbye and Lana gave me a necklace with a locket and charm saying, “Thanks for helping us grow”. I couldn’t have said it better myself, thank YOU for helping me grow! Lana and I still chat frequently and there is nothing better then to open my phone to picture texts of those little ones.
I almost SWORE that would be my very last nanny job, but a part of me just wasn’t ready to leave behind that connect I shared with so many families. A few months after moving to San Francisco I began nannying Rob and Stephanie’s son Clay. By this time in my career I had already experienced my fair share of infants. When we met for the first time baby Clay knocked over an entire cup of coffee onto Rob. After watching him struggle to clean up the mess and juggle a squirming infant, I may have startled him just a bit and said, “Why don’t you just hand me the baby…”. Now, I definitely don’t suggest that you ask someone to “just hand you their child” within the first 10 minutes of meeting, but for me, this may have just sealed the deal. It was so fun to nanny for a family in the city and learn what it’s like to have small children in San Francisco. Working with Clay I realized that the reason I had held onto my nanny job for SO long was because of this love for connection with the families I worked with. Once I realized that I learned how to transform that same passion in a creative way by photographing families.
More on that transformation later, but for now, an EXTRA BIG thank you to ALL of the wonderful families I got to nanny for that really made me who I am today.