Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Hating on the help


I had plenty of complaints during the year I worked as a full time nanny. Luckily "knowing my former employer got paid to resent me in print form" was never one of them.

This article really touched me deep down inside, spoke to me as a woman who wants children, who, dare I say it, wants it all. There was one paragraph in particular that warmed my heart with something I can only describe as a rising tide of blinding proletarian rage:

In this sisterhood of mothers with nannies that I had unwittingly joined, mutual grievances were shared and a sort of homespun, do-it-yourself legislation was constantly in flux. "Why should I pay my nanny when I go on vacation?" asked one. "My nanny needs back surgery and has no health insurance. What happens if I don't pay for it?" asked another. Among the talk, one horror story inevitably emerged that set off a tsunami of paranoia. A child drowned in a pool while his nanny looked on. It was her fault because, as one woman put it, "the nanny didn't know how to swim." I found out that Marta didn't know how to swim either and, wondering what else she might not know how to do, I immediately enrolled her in a Spanish CPR course. It was an ironic gesture because I'd never taken one myself, and God forbid I should have to, say, perform the Heimlich maneuver. But Marta was now spending more time with my daughter than I did (a sobering reality), so what if Celeste plummeted down a cliff? Or got burned? Or needed mouth-to-mouth?

I have a suggestion for Debra Ollivier: instead of pondering the ironic ramifications of parenting classes, dissecting the "weighted sense of loss and displaced motherhood," and cataloguing all the wrinkles and aches you've saved yourself by contracting out your biological duty, why don't you try not being so selfish and actually raising your children? If you write, and you and your husband live a transatlantic existence(inherited a house in California?), why do you need two incomes?

There is clearly a market for books by and for women who feel like it's just so hard to be a mother these days since books featuring selfish rich women whining about their nannies being better mothers than them are published at a rate of 1 every 20 minutes. I think there is probably a bigger market for a slightly different take on this story-books by and for the women who put up with these bitches. Where are those books? And no, The Nanny Diaries doesn't count. Publishers, why don't you do a good deed and save one or two or twenty of these poor women from having to toil in So Cal for these evil "modern women."

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