Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Mother-Blaming Nonsense: Nanny Edition

What is it about mothers (always mothers, but never those golf-playing, traditional corporate dads though) who outsource their childcare to nannies, babysitters, or even just to other relatives that apparently drives such a disturbingly large number of people crazy with unacknowledged jealousy and misplaced rage?

When a mother uses daycare: "How dare those mothers leave their kids to be raised by total strangers!"

When a SAHM makes time to prioritize her physical health: "She puts her kids in daycare so she can spend 2 hours a day at the gym - how self-indulgent!"

When a WOHM gets help from a postpartum doula, or nanny, or even her own mother: "People who hire night nannies or have a grandparent who is willing to take care of their 'trophy kids' so they can work long hours should have never had kids in the first place!" 

When a WAHM pays somebody to watch her kids in her house for any amount of time: "Why does a mom who is home even need a nanny in the first place? She must not really love her kids." (But why is "preschool" ok? I guess I don't fully comprehend the rules.)

By the way, all of the above describe parenting choices I have made at one point or another, and for which I'm sure I have been judged. To our knowledge, my husband has never once been judged. We save up our harshest judgments for mothers.

I, for one, am sick and tired of all the sad sack crabs in a bucket sticking their judgmental noses into other women's business. (Amen @nicoleandmaggie!)

Obviously, nobody like me, who has used pretty much every form of childcare known to humankind, should read any of the internet comments out there about the recent Krim Tragedy. And definitely don't read the NYT's coverage. However, I appreciated what Moxie had to say, as well as Laura McKenna's post.

I'm devastated for the Krim Family and for their community. 

I'm sick about how this reads for our society: Latina nannies might be potential child murderers! Moms, you're taking a big risk trusting someone else with your kids (until they're school-aged anyway... oh, wait...)

Part of me wants to sing the praises of our awesome Latina babysitter, (who like the nanny in the news is actually a U.S. Citizen which is a fact that, sadly, comes as a shock to everyone), but somehow that does not feel right. It feels defensive, and we don't have any reason to feel defensive.

The story was big enough to make the radio news in my tiny town, which is located just about as far from NYC as you can get in the lower 48 states. Why? What's the relevance? None. It's that there's just something about the story of a rich, white SAHM who hires a Latina nanny that triggers this deep-seated sense of jealousy in people. I suspect the truth is that some people are feeling a little bit happy and relieved about what happened: as if this was a kind of rough karmic justice and Krim deserved it because she wasn't doing her job as a mother, she wasn't willing to sacrifice enough of herself. 

As if somehow it means their own kids are safe because there's got to be a limited supply of badness out there, and it has struck somewhere else, so we're protected for awhile. Ugh.

What's the solution? Obviously, avoid the news. Stop wasting your time on people who stay stupid, patriarchal things and who, when called out on their statements, lack even the basic self-awareness and decency to be able to apologize. Stop caring what other people think (to whatever extent you may have cared in the first place.) What else have you got?


nicoleandmaggie said...


Cloud said...

I've had to avoid the news because I have been so upset by the Krim story. I can't get the mental image of the mother coming home out of my mind, and it breaks my heart every time I think of it. I should probably just have a good cry for the strangers on the other side of the country and see if I can move on. I'd say I cannot believe people are saying anything other than how horrible it is. But of course, I can believe it, because people always say crappy things at times like this.

Liz at Mom-101 had a really good post after the Colorado shooting, in which she hypothesized that some parents say judgmental things in times of tragedy because they are trying to find the reasons why such a terrible thing won't happen to them. But of course, there are no such guarantees on offer, so all they are really doing is heaping judgment on parents who are already living our worst nightmares.

I don't know. I can't take all the pain and suffering in the world sometimes, and I have to just retreat into a smaller, less connected world where there is less pain to process.

mom2boy said...

I read compulsively every report that came out the day and day after the Krim tragedy happened. Horrible, horrible, horrible. I will say that my overriding thought was that poor woman. Not that poor family although I did think that, too, but it was very much her pain that sat in my heart. And not just because she found them but because she is their mother.

It also made me want to blog again just for memories sake which is why I started it in the first place. Her last entry about how cute her son was saying things - it's going to make me cry just thinking about it.

It never occurred to me to judge her choices as reason for what happened but it did scare the shit out of me in a life is random and uncontrollable way.

oilandgarlic said...

Amen. Imagine the judgement if she had left her 3 kids to go to the gym, spa, or meet up with friends (i.e. anything for herself).

Laura Vanderkam said...

The phenomenon of blaming the parents (well, usually the mother) is totally a primal reaction to something incredibly awful. We believe that if we can somehow pin evil on people's life or parenting choices, that will protect us from the same evil. Alas, it won't. And regardless, I bet there is not a mother alive -- even ones homeschooling their kids -- who has never left her children in someone else's care for some reason. Like even, you know, giving birth to another kid.