1000 Families Project: Melissa and Family

1,000 Families Project:
Melissa and Family

She may not have any children of her own, but writer and long-time nanny Melissa Martz definitely has a family.

Family isn’t always blood
It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs.
The ones who would do anything to see you smile,
and love you no matter what.

The above statement fits me to a ‘T.’ I am single, never married, and I don’t have children of my own. But since November 1997 I have been a full-time live-out nanny, thus sharing my life with eight separate families, totalling more than fifteen children in all. I am also an aunt to four, soon to be six.

Since I was young, I knew I would find myself in the childcare profession. My Mom kept a record of our school years in a School Days Treasury, which included what we wanted to be when we grew up. A majority of the years I indicated I wanted to be either a teacher or a babysitter. Today, I will soon start my 18th year as a Nanny, and in that role I consistently teach early childhood concepts. So, teacher and babysitter…my intuition was right on. But please, never call me a babysitter. I will quickly dismiss that word, and replace it with nanny; I was a babysitter when I was a teenager.

There are so many different childcare options out there for parents, but I find only a handful choose a nanny for their children. Nannies have a more integral position in the family’s life versus a home daycare or daycare centre. Yes, nannies do cost a more, but when you consider the bond and experiences that can happen with a nanny, it’s money well spent. Just look at my experiences, and you’ll see how the “Family isn’t always blood” statement rings so true.

Lauren was my first charge. I was her nanny for five years straight, from the time she was 14 months old until she turned six years. When it was time for her to go to Junior Kindergarten, her parents opted not to send her because they didn’t want to lose me. In Senior Kindergarten, I would come pick her up each day with the neighbour’s dog, and on Wednesdays volunteer in her classroom.

Emma and I were together from the time she was 10 months until she was four years of age. We had a bond like no other. People often mistook her for my daughter because we were so close, and at our outings people saw the relationship flourish. It was definitely hard to stop being Emma’s nanny when she went to school. We shared so much, from outings to the library, a program called “KidsHop” at The Kitchener Market where children’s entertainer Erick Traplin performs children’s concerts, to being a part of her preschool years as a classroom parent.

Matthew was my first “son.” Matthew was a very small 14 month old due to a heart problem that was fixed. But with undivided 1:1 care and attention from me, he caught up in development. I also cared for Matthew’s three school-aged siblings and dog. We went on vacations together; I even received flowers for Mother’s Day.

People are dumbfounded when they learn my current “daughter” isn’t my own, because we look so much alike. There is no family relation whatsoever—it’s just one of those “meant to be” situations. We have a very tight bond, and people can see what an integral part I am in Lauren’s life (yes, another Lauren….in fact, she’s my fourth Lauren), from the way her speech has skyrocketed, and all the tasks she has mastered, even before the age of two.

I’ve been asked many times if parents get upset by the tight bond I form with their children, or when they call me “Mom” because they feel so safe, secure, and comfortable with me. These children know the difference between their mom and their nanny. It’s just habit for them to say the name Mom, and for me, it’s a wonderful compliment, knowing they feel safe, secure and comfortable in my care.

This is #1000families post number 156. Do you have a family story of your own to contribute to the 1,000 Families Project? Or do you know a family that might want to do so? Learn more about how the series got started and how to get involved here. You can find all of the #1000families posts here.

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Melissa Martz

About Melissa Martz

Melissa is a nanny and writer in Kitchener, Ontario. This past September she published her first book, Inclusive Playgrounds: Play for Every Child. It helps communities bring more inclusiveness to outdoor play structures. Her freelance writing has been featured in more than thirty publications, print and online. You can find her at melissamartz.com and order the book here. View all posts by


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