So Much More than a “Nanny”… our Dreamer & Believer

NannyI hate the titles that are given to an all-important role in our world…nannies, caregivers, au pairs, baby sitters. Frankly, if you look at what a “nanny” does – it would be more inspiring and respectful to reference her by her daily activities; she is a Story-Teller, a boo-boo kisser, a cuddler, a climber, a dancer, a puppeteer and most importantly a dreamer & believer. (which I will explain later)

Every working mother knows that angst and daunting feeling; what will I do for childcare? We begin assessing, rationalizing, making lists, talking to other working moms and questioning everything. Every child is special – and ours is no different, we want them to be treated that way.

When I returned to work, I was looking for non-traditional child care. I wanted something small & quaint with personalized attention. In-home child care was the way for our family. So the search began…wow, how overwhelming and intimidating. At the time I wouldn’t have put it past myself to begin practicing the non-respectable “nanny poaching”.

I had visions of the Mary Poppins — and with incredible faith that everything happens the way it’s suppose too…into our lives walked Ali. (I call her our answered prayer, guardian angel and so much more)


Ali has been a part of our family for 2 years and she is soooo much more than a “nanny”, a “caregiver”, a “babysitter”. Frankly these titles disgust me…because they take the personal love & attentiveness she gives Bear away. Inside our home Ali is the little sister I never had, our Mary Poppins and most importantly our little girl’s DREAMER & BELIEVER.

What do I mean by “Dreamer & Believer”??? We all know that every child has no inhibition when it comes to daydreaming. But I soon realized that a child will begin believing in themselves and their dreams AFTER they see others believing in THEM. No daydream is too big for Ali to encourage and dream along with our little Bear. That’s why we call her our Dreamer & Believer.

Ali lives the awe-inspiring quote from Rose Kennedy; “One hundred years from now the world may be different because of the role I played in the life of a child.” This is not a job for Ali, it’s a passion.

I think about the Nanny Diaries – my husband and I are not the absent parents, rather Ali has endured her fair share of overly-structured parenting. We welcomed her with a 32 page binder, monthly goal sheets, family meetings, discipline scale and a daily feedback form. And to think Ali can smile respectfully, pick-up our little girl (kiss her on the cheek) and say; “come-on Bear let’s go to the basement and make a fort”. We love her with all of our heart.

The lesson for me is to never casually reference someone as a “nanny” – rather recognize the gift they are giving a child by “dreaming & believing” with them.

Children are our future and the “dreamers & believers” are significant enablers.

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21 Responses to “So Much More than a “Nanny”… our Dreamer & Believer”

  1. mayberry March 6, 2008 at 3:09 pm #

    You (and especially your little girl) are so lucky to have a wonderful person like Ali! As a working parent — good child care makes ALL the difference.

  2. Robin Rivers March 6, 2008 at 8:00 pm #

    What a great point to make.
    I don’t know how I would have survived that first year with our daughter without the amazing hand of our nanny and friend Christine. While we both have moved to different parts of the world, we always keep in touch and she is a very special part of our family.

  3. Linda Lefko March 7, 2008 at 9:31 am #

    Being a traditional mother to Bear’s daddy, it was with great trepidation that I realized Bear’s mom was going to be a working mother – sacrificing some of the precious moments that come during the day with my grandchild. Understanding that it is a different world than it was thirty years ago, finding the right fit for a family caretaker or “nanny” could be a daunting task. I think the ability of this family to embrace Ali on all levels as friend, big sister, little sister has stengthened the family unit, and given peace of mind to
    the Grammy and enriched the chosen career path of Ali- A win-win for all involved – even the worried GiGi.

  4. Joanna Joel March 7, 2008 at 11:11 am #

    It is so reassuring to read this story. My husband and I are planning to start a family in the next couple of years (not yet, but soon). I have already been thinking about and worrying over what I will do as a working mother. I have images of the perfectly “balanced” working mom with a color-coded calendar and stopwatch like efficiency. How could I do this and give anything my full attention? This story, however, is about love not balance. Love grows exponentially; time is finite (you only have so much, so you have to decide what to do with it). Expanding the love in our lives allows us to give more to all parts of our lives.
    Stories like yours give me hope, Kim. Thanks.

  5. Kim Lefko March 7, 2008 at 5:28 pm #

    It’s great to hear other ‘working moms’ have been through the same experience and have found the perfect solution. Thanks for your comments. And Joanna – have faith when it’s time for your parenthood journey to begin…the perfect person will enter your life as well.

  6. Roxanne Wager March 8, 2008 at 7:55 pm #

    As Ali’s mom I am proud of what she has done to help this family care for Bear. She has always had a love for the little ones and has found a great family to share her talents with in child care. Keep up the good work.

  7. Morgan Cook March 11, 2008 at 12:28 pm #

    This is beautifully written, about my one of my best friends. You have pointed out all of the best traits in Ali. I know she loves being your nanny, part of your family and loves your little girl.

  8. Susan Benzel March 11, 2008 at 2:44 pm #

    I see the Believer and the Dreamer in Ali every week in art class in Gymboree. Never could I refer to such a gentle, intelligent, loving spirit as “the Nanny.” Thank you to the entire Lefko Family for walking into our lives at Gymboree!

  9. Aleda Madison March 11, 2008 at 3:49 pm #

    As I take my grandson to Art Class every week, I also get to see how Ali interacts with Alex and visa versa. Two weeks ago when the children were blowing bubbles Ali ran for the camera to capture all those special “kodak” moments. She definitely loves her job and Alex loves her special “nanny.”

  10. Kim Lefko March 11, 2008 at 5:30 pm #

    It is extremely touching to read these amazing comments about a person we think the world of…and who is making such an incredible impact in our lives. And to think the people around Ali feel that same commitment and love for our daughter is the “best feeling in the world” – as a working mother. Thank you for sharing, it means more than you could ever imagine!

  11. Bonnie Curbeau March 11, 2008 at 5:41 pm #

    What a wonderful tribute to my special Allison who I have watched grow up since Jr. High School. I am now a Gramma and I can appreciate even more than ever how important genuine and loving child care is! Ali has always enjoyed a special relationship with the children that she babysat for in High School .I knew she would find a special place for her love – and she certainly has with the Lefko family – love to all of you!

  12. Working Mom from Ohio March 11, 2008 at 5:47 pm #

    You are fortunate to have Ali walk into your life. I’m a working mom who struggles with the balance on a daily basis. It’s stories like this that give hope to others wondering what to do. Thanks for sharing. It’s important to have the support you are doing the right thing in returning to work. It was a little disheartening to read the post from your daugther’s grandmother but encouraging to hear the positive stories from the people who interact with your daugther and Ali every week.

    a proud working mom from Ohio

  13. Kim Wager March 11, 2008 at 8:42 pm #

    I was extremely proud when I read this story! Although I miss her dearly, it is great to see that my sister, Ali, is touching the lives of so many people. I am glad that she is with such a wonderful family, and I know that someday she will be a great mom!

  14. Matt Curbeau March 12, 2008 at 7:02 pm #

    Allison is an extremely hardworking and caring person who is always their for family and friends. This is a great way to honor her hard work and dedication. Congrats Allison. And to Mrs Lefko…what a nice way to say thank you.


  15. Aileen McCabe-Maucher March 12, 2008 at 11:17 pm #

    This is a beautifully written piece. My daughter and I have the pleasure of taking an art class with Bear and Ali each week. It is evident that Ali loves and nurtures Bear with her whole heart and soul. Bear is a goregous, brilliant little girl who is clearly thriving and well loved by her parents and her very talented Dreamer and Believer. Thanks for sharing your story.

  16. Neil Simmons April 7, 2008 at 8:37 am #


    From the early years watching you growup and help on the family fruit farm to your watching and helping with three of our little grandsons in Geneva , when you were a junior high student we have known longer than many that you are special . Now the roll you are playing in our grandaughter Alexs life is something every parent and grandparent dreams about .

    Neil and Joyce Simmons

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