The Nanny Diaries: The NY Tragedy - Hug Our Kids But Don't Fire Our Nannies

4 years ago

What can we do to act in solidarity with this mother? We can hug our children the way she will, for the rest of her life, wish she could.


In a world where most of us entrust our children to someone else for at least part of the day, be it a nanny or a childcare program, many of us worry about whether we are doing the right thing. As we rush out the door on Monday morning, in the light of the NY tragedy, I think most of us will look twice at the women who we are entrusting with our most precious worldly possessions, our children.

Of course, the media is all over this story...
"For working parents this is a nightmare. Every mother I know is asking today, 'How do I go back to work?'" said Denise Albert, who has two young children and lives a few blocks from the site of the tragedy.
The answer for many of us is that we HAVE to go back to work just to make ends meet. Even if one were financially privileged enough to be a full-time home-maker, no woman can be in two places at once - kid A's swim lessons that interrupt kid B's homework that conflict with Kid C's nap time. I have three children and, honestly, its a constant logistical nightmare. 

If you could have a nanny, you would, even if you aren't going to work.

The intellect in us will remind us that our nannies are possibly the least dangerous things in our home. Swimming pools, carbon monoxide, matches and the contents of our medicine cabinets are far more risky! In fact, an even sadder thought is that death at the hands of a parent is far more common than at the hands of a nanny.  However, as most mothers will report, often our intellect is overruled by our emotion, therefore, statistics will be of little help on Monday morning.

The coming days, and demanding 24 hour news cycle, will no doubt include countless women worrying about their childcare choices. It will involve a deep analysis of the nanny/family relationship and will look for 'answers' and 'warning signs'. Life isn't about controlling outcomes - that is impossible. Life is about choices given the best information and resources that I have at the time. For mothers, and fathers, those choices include who we trust to care for our children when we can't. 

The choice I make on Monday morning is to hug my kids. The world is full of mindless, senseless tragedy even when women made the best choices given the information they could.

Often there are no answers and no warning signs. By firing our nannies and questioning our childcare arrangements, especially in the media, we are NOT acting in solidarity with one mother who suffered a tragic outcome. We are adding fuel to the flames of society's expectations that women should be everything, everywhere, all the time. We are suggesting that we should make our choices with clairvoyant, 20:20 hindsight.  With all the privilege in the world, this is simply not possible.

What can we do to act in solidarity with this mother? We can hug our children the way she will, for the rest of her life, wish she could.  

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