Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Apparently nannies only exist in fairy tales and bad chick lit

So when did the word "nanny" or admitting to employing a nanny become dirty, one of those things that must not be said or discussed in public or polite company?

Back when I was growing up, almost every middle-class family employed a nanny or mother's helper or housekeeper or sitter (or had extended family) who would help look after the kids, even if the mother didn't work full time. It was no big deal.

But today no successful woman it seems will cop to having help.

And if I hear one more high profile woman (yes Michelle Obama, Mika Brzezinski, Norah O'Donnell, and Katty Kay, I am talking to you) declaim on television and/or in glossy magazines and books how today women can now do it all (or to cite Morning Joe co-anchor Mika Brzezinski's best-selling new book, do "All Things At Once"), without mentioning that it takes a village -- or at least a nanny or a mom who doesn't work or some kind of outside help -- I am going to scream.

More importantly, these supposed role models for "having [or doing] it all" are doing a tremendous disservice to young women (older women too) by not admitting -- or stating -- on TV and in women's magazines "Thank God for my [nanny, housekeeper, mother's helper, daycare center, stay-at-home spouse, mother, sister -- insert caregiver or multiple aides here]. Without her [him or them] there is no way I would be the success that I am today."

Or at the bare minimum acknowledging that they have help (and often lots of it) -- and that it's practically impossible to be successful without it.

Btw, there is absolutely nothing wrong with women getting some help on the home front, or putting their kids in daycare or aftercare, so they can work. What's wrong is women creating the fiction that you can somehow do it all if you just set your mind to it. That's as big a fairy tale as Mary Poppins.


Anonymous said...

oh lord, girl - you nailed it!

amy said...

Typing from phone, so forgive typoes.

Remember the snarking when Hillary Clinton said, "it takes a village"? Call it what you will, but it really does take a community.

Fwiw, I do think it's possible to have it all. I don't think it's possible to have it all at once, however. I also think the def of "all" is organic.

J. said...

@Anonymous: Thanks! (Wish I knew who you were!)

@amy: I think you are right that it's possible to have it all - just not at once - and that the definition of "all" is fungible. Thanks for the great comment.

EMM said...

You have to be suspect of those who say they have it all...they're lying or delusional...or both.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I agree, but, what is the deal with the non-working moms (or dads) employing HELP - how long does it take to go to the gym and "lunch"!!!! If you cannot take care of your kids (while you are NOT working) and you don't want them around, don't have so many!!!!

Anonymous said...

My mother had 4 children and was a stay at home mother until the youngest was 9. We always had help. Not so she could escape to shop and lunch (that comment must have come from a guy) But a break-you do a job for 18 hours a day for 7 straight days over and over again with no breaks. Tell me how healthy the mother is, her children, and her marriage???