Lena was a devoted mother to her little son and baby daughter and didn’t want to leave them alone with a nanny, but circumstances forced her to do otherwise. She never imagined she would return home one day to find bruises on her children.
It was a bright Sunday morning, and Lena was sipping tea on her front porch while her husband Todd was working in the garage. With pleasant weather and birds chirping merrily in the skies, everything seemed perfect with the outside world. But Lena’s heart was anxious, possessing every other fear that a mother’s heart could.
Lena had taken a break from work after her first pregnancy and was supposed to return to her job. Now, she adored her children as any mother would, but she didn’t want to let go of her brilliant career. When she discussed that with Todd, he suggested they hire a nanny. But Lena didn’t want that. She knew her son Jeremy could be a handful at times, and May was so small and young. Lena’s heart skipped a beat every time she considered leaving her children in the care of a stranger – a nanny. She was almost sure she would put her career on hold for the sake of her children.
But one fateful day changed everything when they hired Bella, a young woman, as their children’s nanny. “Todd, the kids are very young and need me. I can give up the job,” Lena had told Todd a week ago when they discussed hiring a nanny.
“Come on, Lena,” Todd said. “I know you love your job, and I appreciate your concern for our children. But Jeremy’s a big boy and doesn’t need his mom all the time. He’s four. What about May? She’s only two, hun. Leaving them with a nanny, I don’t know if I’m ready for that.”
Lena looked torn. “I don’t want you to be one of those women who give up their dreams for the sake of their husband and children. You get what I mean, right, Todd? I’m a mother now. I’m more than just a woman who only cares about her career,” she said.
Even Lena knew how she was lying to herself when she said that. She had always been a very ambitious woman who wanted to do much more in life than just raising her children. She wanted to make a name for herself. But the kids arrived sooner than she and Todd had planned, and her motherly instincts couldn’t let her think about anything but the children. Besides, Jeremy and May were very mischievous, and she always had to be looking after them.
“Look, Lena,” Todd finally said. “I can’t force you to return to work, but I’d like you to reconsider it. So many families hire nannies, and the person won’t be a complete stranger. Honestly, we’ll have their ID and any other information we need.”
Lena thought it over for the next few days, and the idea didn’t seem bad to her. “Maybe Todd’s right. The kids will be okay. I’m just overthinking. We’ll hire someone trustworthy. So many people hire nannies.”
After contacting a few agencies and reviewing more than 30 profiles, Todd and Lena chose Bella’s profile. She lived nearby, and they thought they could call her on short notice if a situation arose. Bella visited Lena and Todd’s house on Saturday morning. She was a brunette with beautiful blue eyes and a charming smile, which made Lena uncomfortable, but she brushed it off as a product of her overthinking brain.
“Wonderful home,” Bella said, extending her hand to Lena and then to Todd. “It’s a pleasure to work for you, Mr. and Mrs. Woods.”
“Nice to meet you, Bella,” Lena said, forcing a smile. “Would you like to meet the kids?”
“Oh, that’s why I’m here,” she grinned. “You have twin daughters, right?”
Lena and Todd fell silent. “A girl and a boy,” Lena said finally. “Two kids, yes, but a son and a daughter.”
“Oh, how silly of me. I thought you had twin daughters. I went to too many houses in the past few days and got confused,” Bella exclaimed.
“Oh well, we think it’s okay,” Todd laughed, easing the tension in the room. “They’re up there. Please follow me.”
Lena stood there, watching as Bella and Todd went up the stairs. “What kind of nanny is she? How can you get mixed up with that kind of information? Can I trust her enough? I don’t think this is right. I don’t think she’s right,” Lena’s heart shuddered.
When she left for work on Monday, leaving the kids all alone with Bella, she said, “Have a wonderful day, Mommy.” Bella waved goodbye from the front porch, May in her arms and Jeremy standing beside her. “Have a great day, Bella. See you soon, kids. Don’t trouble Bella too much, alright?” she said before she settled in her car and drove away.
On the way to her office, and even at work, Lena couldn’t take her children off her mind. Is Bella taking good care of them? What if she forgets about Jeremy’s meds? She didn’t even remember I had a son and daughter, not twin daughters. Lena’s heart couldn’t stop racing until she knew her children were safe. So she called Bella every 15 minutes to see if they were okay.
“Jeremy’s allergic to dust, Bella,” Lena explained over the phone. “Please don’t take him to the playground, no matter how much he begs and cries. I’m sure he’ll do that.”
“Don’t worry, Mrs. Woods. It’s all fine here. Jeremy and May are the loveliest children I’ve ever babysat. They’re great kids, and everything’s perfect,” Bella assured her.
“Great, thanks, Bella,” she hung up the phone. “My children are just trouble. Jeremy is so hyperactive. I thought he had a problem. Is she lying? Is Bella faking it and not looking after my kids? I told Todd this was a terrible idea.”
A week passed, and Lena could never fully trust Bella, but the kids were okay. Whenever she returned home, it seemed like Bella was a good nanny despite her silly memory problems and excessive praise for the children that Lena found hard to digest.
Was a storm about to arrive?
One day, Lena came home from work and went straight to the children. She saw they were playing with their toys. “Kids, mommy’s home,” she said, hugging them. That’s when Lena noticed the bruise on Jeremy’s knee. “What happened to you, hun? How’d you get that?” she asked worriedly, looking at the bruises.
“Mommy, we’re okay, May,” Lena’s panicked and worried eyes checked May, and she noticed bruises on May’s elbow. “Did she hurt you and your sister?”
“No, mommy, no, no,” Jeremy stammered. “We fell, mommy, we fell while playing. Bella didn’t hurt us.”
Something inside Lena’s heart told her Jeremy was lying. Was Bella forcing the kids to lie?
That night, Elena told Todd she wanted to fire Bella. “I don’t want her near my kids, Todd. I saw bruises on Jeremy’s knee, and she and she also hurt May,” Lena exclaimed. “What nonsense! How dare she touch our children?”
“Well, Jeremy claims he and Bella tripped while playing. Can you believe that? They’re covering for her,” Todd fell silent, his arms crossed across his chest.
“What? Aren’t you angry? She’s forcing our children to lie!” Lena’s frustration grew.
“Stop overthinking, honey. They could have been playing when they fell. You’re casting unnecessary doubt,” Todd replied.
“Are you serious, Todd? You believe her but not me? Why would the kids cover for her?” Lena asked, feeling hurt and misunderstood.
Just as Lena was adamant that Bella was harming their children, Todd didn’t believe her.
So, what Lena did the next day was install CCTV cameras all over the house without telling anyone. Todd had left for his office early, and the children were asleep. Then, Lena asked Bella to come over later that day and got the cameras installed. After all, she couldn’t just let Bella hurt her children.
“I’ll expose that woman. How dare she hurt my babies! Todd will regret not believing me,” Lena thought determinedly.
Once Bella was there, Lena told her to look after the children, settled in her car, and went off to work at her office. She switched on the camera footage on her iPad and began watching it. She saw Bella playing with the kids and helping them with coloring—nothing out of the ordinary.
Lena kept watching the footage. Around 4 pm, she noticed Bella taking the kids upstairs to her and Todd’s bedroom. Lena’s hand went to her mouth, and she shuddered as she watched the footage further.
“Jesus, is that what she’s been up to behind my back?” Lena couldn’t believe her eyes.
She rushed home after informing her boss of a family emergency. When she arrived, she ran upstairs to her bedroom and started crying.
“I’m so sorry, kids,” she sobbed.
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Woods. You’re early today,” Bella said. “We didn’t want you to know.”
It turned out Bella was a dance teacher in the past and was teaching the kids to dance so they could surprise Lena on her birthday, which was only a week away. The kids had stumbled and fallen while dancing, hence the bruises. Bella had to take the children to Todd and Lena’s bedroom because the music player was there. Bella, Todd, and even the kids were in on the plan together.
But thanks to Lena’s super anxious brain, she ruined the surprise for herself.
“I’m so sorry, Bella,” Lena said, tears streaming down her face. “I suspected you. I shouldn’t have. I installed cameras all over the house because I thought you were hurting my children. I felt so embarrassed seeing the footage. I had to rush home. I’m so sorry.”
“Mommy, this was a surprise. You ruined it,” May said, pouting.
“Well, it’s not completely ruined,” laughed Bella. “We can still surprise her, kids. Let’s not reveal our dance moves to Mommy, okay?”
Lena felt so embarrassed. She apologized to Bella again, who said she didn’t mind any of it. “If I were in her shoes, Mrs. Woods, I’d be equally worried. Being a mother is quite a job, isn’t it?”
“Tell me about it,” said Lena shyly.
A week later, the kids finally showed their performance to Lena, who cried after watching it. The family indulged in cake, laughed, and shed happy tears. Lena realized she couldn’t have found a better babysitter than Bella.