Nine Months More

Saying Goodbye to Mary Poppins

I felt like I was standing on the steps of Number 17 Cherry Tree Lane staring up into the sky, the hint of chimney smoke in the air, watching her go. My boys held onto me, with their little arms twisted around my legs, each of us still and silent. We were waving good bye, but neither one of us could believe that she was actually leaving.

Choosing someone to look after my boys has been one of my hardest decisions. For a long time, whether I was at work or had an appointment, it was always Nanna or Yiayia who would look after them. But as I watched the tired faces of each grandma when they dropped the boys back home and the exhaustion behind their smile I knew this couldn’t continue for long.

We tried day care and while it worked for a few months, it didn’t work long term. The reasons were many and as the feeling of hopelessness, tinged with mummy guilt started to seep in I thought maybe we could try a nanny. I had my eye on the perfect one; she was one of the carers that AJ had while in day care. The story of me getting her phone number is a post in itself, but her number I did get. But the timing wasn’t right and she couldn’t look after our boys. Finally, after three other nannies came and went, her schedule aligned with ours and nanny number four became the Mary Poppins we were looking for since day one.


Three years later she is not only our nanny. She is one of AJ and PJ’s best friends. She is one of my dear friends. We open the door each week into our chaos and she walks in without judgement or condemn. While she may not have a magic carpet bag, she certainly has spread some magic in our house. The boys could not love her more. I thought she would be our nanny forever.  So at the start of this year when she told me that she was leaving us, it felt like my heart had popped, shattered and deflated. I locked myself in the pantry, sobbing on the phone to hubby, wailing in my misery that she was leaving. I had no idea how I was going to tell the boys.

AJ took the news the worst. One afternoon, as I held him crying in my arms, I stopped being brave and strong and just cried with him. Together we held onto each other, surrounded by toys and games, bits of Lego on the floor and we just cried. Because as much as much as the impending goodbye hurt, it hurt even more knowing that this heart break, this ache and sadness my boys were feeling, I couldn’t make go away. If anything, I felt like I was to blame. I felt like my decision to work was the reason we were here in the first place.


As the wind changes and the mist slowly rolls in we are about to start a new chapter. Unlike all the other times, the boys made the final decision as to who their new nanny is going to be and they are excited. It feels quite bittersweet really, closing the door to one nanny and opening the door to another.

For me, the hardest lesson to learn was that sometimes while I need to be strong for my boys, there are other times I need to be vulnerable. It is not only okay to cry with them, it is important to show them that I feel the grief and sadness that they are feeling. Sometimes there is nothing better than sweeping my boys up in my arms and crying together.

How do you cope with goodbye?

  • Loree

    I hate goodbyes and I don’t cope with them very well. But yes, sometimes it is good to cry with them and hold and cuddle them. The little ones need it.

  • JM Peace

    As hard as it was, this would have been an incredible learning experience for your boys. Goodbyes are part of life and something that needs to be learnt too.

  • tlynn737

    What a beautiful story that actually is – and as much as you and your boys learned about goodbyes, my thought is how wonderful that your departing nanny can go on with her life knowing she did something so valuable and was so loved.

  • I agree, we need to show our kids that it is okay to feel and be vulnerable. Kids need to know that every emotion is okay, it is part of being a well rounded human. Beautiful, but sad story Josefa. x

  • 26 Years & Counting

    It’s so important to learn to express emotion.

  • Oh you have written this so beautifully. I used to nanny, and I can assure you that she feels the same sadness and grief as you do. Your boys will grow and move one and totally forget about her, whereas she will always hold a special place in her heart for ‘her’ boys. And it will continue to cause her sadness that they don’t know who she is despite all the love she gave them. xS

  • Oh Josefa. How wonderful to have found someone so perfect for your family. How sad to have to let her go. I have been sick with anxiety as we count down the days to when my husband goes away for three weeks (to visit his parents he hasn’t seen in four yeas). I was worried about not being able to keep it together to comfort my little ones. You are so right. They need me to show them. I’ll need to be sad and cry and miss him with them. x

  • TwitchyCorner

    She sounds amazing! Hard as it is, down the track wouldn’t we all agree it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all? Kids (and grown ups!) can form some serious attachments but the ones who find it hardest are the ones who need the most practise :/ *ahem*. xxx

    PS LOVE the gumboots!

  • Wow she sounds incredible! My youngest has just started kindy/day care so for the first time I am starting to feel like I have a way to work around my events and things without, like you resorting to grandma all the time 🙂
    Mind you it’s only been 2 weeks and the first 2 days I was beside myself sad XX

  • I hate goodbyes, but obviously we have done a lot of them this year. And I was just like you. Stopped being strong and just cried with the kids. I think they need to see that just as much as the strength we show too.

  • The Plumbette

    I don’t like goodbyes, but I know that good comes from them whether its the introduction of a new friend or new experience. Your nanny sounded wonderful. I hope the boys enjoy their new nanny and I agree that our kids need to see our emotion too (at the right time of course).

  • We ay goodbye to our own Mary Poppins every year when Granny Annie goes home to Europe. We love and miss her. But my daughters have consolation in the fact that she’ll be back, and can talk on Skype in the meantime. x

  • Jo @ BabbleOn City blog

    Totally agree that we need to run the full gamut of emotions with our kids. They need to see it all … or how will they ever know? My 3 year old sees me laugh, she sees me cry, she sees me cross, she sees me annoyed. She asks me how I’m feeling each time and I tell her. When she then feels those emotions herself, she is able to recognise what’s going on. (It’s especially cute when she mixes them up.)
    I love this story, Josefa. Probably because I am perhaps one of the biggest Mary Poppins fans, like, EVER :o)xx

  • I remember when I left my family in NY where I was a nanny, it was hard for all of us, we play such a role in the lives of the family that adopts us. You know change also teaches them resilience 🙂 x

  • This is the first time I’m visiting Always Josefa (after hearing much about you)!! And wow, what a post to start off with. As a career nanny, I’m in tears myself just reading your words. I can understand just how you and especially your boys would be feeling. And I can also completely understand the emotions of your nanny and why she might have felt it was time to move on. Saying goodbye is always the hardest part, but the blow of not being with the kids is always softened when the nanny can make guest appearances at babysitting nights, important school functions and birthday parties!

    • Thank you so much for stopping by Hope! Oh how I wish our nanny could make guest appearances, however she has moved interstate making ti somewhat hard. It has been our first week with the new nanny, and while it has been bumpy in parts, it is also going quite well xx

      • Glad to hear it’s going ok!

  • Renee at Mummy, Wife, Me

    Oh Josefa! What a beautiful post. So sorry to hear about losing your Nanny. She sounds like an amazing woman. I hope the new nanny and the boys get to know each other quickly and all can be well again in your household. I think it’s lovely that you cried with AJ. I think it’s definitely a good thing to show the boys that side of you xx

  • Oh that is hard on your little boys. They become so attached. Goodbyes, I have heart wrenching ones every year after visiting my family and they never get easier in fact I think they get worse ! I hope your new nanny becomes part of the family also.

  • I don’t cope well with goodbyes at all. I am crying as I read your post! I also believe in being vulnerable with your kids, I think it is refreshing for them to see we are human.

  • TeganMC

    So sad that you are losing your Nanny, but how awesome that you were able to find someone who you and your boys loved so deeply. I hope that the new Nanny forms a great relationship in your family too.

  • Sometimes goodbyes are just so hard, especially when you have formed such a bond. I hope all goes well with your new nanny.

  • Brodie @ The Hungry Babushka

    Hi Josefa! We met briefly at the Voices of 2014 blogging workshop and I have been meaning to check out your site, so when I saw that you had made it into the top 5 it was the friendly reminder I needed! Your writing is absolutely beautiful! Congratulations on making it into the top 5 – you must be SO proud xx

    • Thank you so much Brodie! I LOVE your site – will be watching eagerly for the Top 5 to be announced in the other categories – good luck!!

  • Ohhh hun – Goodbyes suck. I finally bit the bullet at the beginning of last year and got myself a cleaner. The gorgeous girl that arrived ended up being such a precious friend too and my family adored her family. When they went back to England at the end of last year I was devastated… after only 12 months. I can only imagine how hard it must be for you guys. Lots of love to you and a very Happy Mothers day xx

    • Thank you lovely, good byes are hard, but we are trying to settle into the new rotuine. Hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day too xx

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