Krim Family Tragedy Raises Age-Old Issues for Moms With Nannies

holding handsAlmost a year ago, I stopped working full-time so I could stay home with my kids. But for nearly two years we had a nanny who took care of my twins starting when they were 10 weeks old. I remember when I was on maternity leave, looking through the locals boards for the perfect candidate. We wanted someone with twin experience, someone who came with excellent references, and we felt nervous about the whole thing. How were we going to ever be able to trust a stranger to take care of our babies? When we met Uma, we knew. She was kind and professional. She smiled easily, and when she spent that first hour with us during her trial run, I felt her love for children.

When we called her references, it solidified our choice. I would bet Marina Krim had a similar experience when she hired Yoselyn Ortega to care for her kids.

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In the beginning, I would call Uma three times a day. I'd hear my little ones cooing or making those dinosaur sounds the littlest babies sometimes make, and I missed them terribly but knew they were in good hands. The Krims' nanny, Yoselyn, is 50 years old. Uma is in her early 50s as well. I felt her age was perfect -- she lived long enough to gain even more common sense and had years of experience.

I'm shaken and horrified by what happened to the Krim children. After hearing this story, any person who has ever hired or needs to hire someone to take care of their kids will not think of the process in the same way.

When you hire a nanny, to come into your home, and take care of the beings most precious to you in life, that caretaker becomes like family. With Uma, we celebrated birthdays, holidays, exchanged personal gifts, baked each other cookies. I knew about her husband, her daughters and grandchildren, and we would talk at length about her heartbreak over her son's passing after an illness. We would laugh together, even cried together -- she was more than just someone who watched my kids. She was family. And she was amazing with my kids -- they loved her and still do. We keep in touch and hear updates about the infant twins she is caring for now.

It seemed Ortega was like family to the Krims. She looked after 6-year-old Lucia, 3-year-old Nessie, and 2-year-old Leo for Marina and Kevin Krim for three years. The Krims even spent time with Ortega's family when they went on vacation to the Dominican Republic. She wasn't just some stranger.

We may never know what happened, what made Ortega stab Lucia and Leo to death. Nessie was at swim practice with her mom when it happened. They returned home when Ortega and the kids failed to meet them at the planned spot to find Lucia and Leo in the bathtub with multiple stab wounds. Ortega had a knife in her throat. Self-inflicted.

All we can think about is why.

It was reported that Marina Krim introduced Ortega to another family who needed child care, but they didn't hire her because they said she seemed "grumpy." But we all have our days, don't we? A grumpy day isn't a sign of someone on the verge of losing it, a sign that they will murder children, children they seemingly care about.

There were even times when I questioned Uma -- I think it's natural to do so. Uma and I even had some tension whenever we had to talk about money, which gets so strange because my husband and I never wanted there to be any animosity between us and the person who was taking care of our children. The nanny/family dynamic is a fascinating one, but a trusted one, and in a lot of instances, families do whatever they can to make sure the relationship is a good one, one with open communication and no questions with as little worry as possible. One where you feel like your children are with someone who cares for them -- with someone who is like the next best thing to mom and dad and grandparents.

I could never imagine Uma doing anything to hurt my kids. Or any child. I bet the Krims never imagined that either. But the guilt over what happened will lie with mom. It always does. Whatever happens to our kids, there is a part of us that feels it is our fault. Mom guilt is challenging and shouldn't hang on our hearts like it does, but it's real. If anything ever went wrong when my kids were with Uma and it was Uma's fault, it would really be mine. I hired her. I chose her to stay with my kids. I had to work and couldn't be there for them during the day.

With all the pain Marina Krim is feeling, this may be part of her grief as well. When something tragic happens, we think, What if I had done this? or, Maybe if I had done that, this wouldn't have happened. I truly wish moms everywhere could pray or wish or will that mom guilt away from Marina. Maybe if we all tried, maybe we could at least free ourselves from it as well, and judge ourselves and others less.

Do you question yourself sometimes and do that "maybe if I had done this, it would be different" when it comes to your kids? Do you think if the Krims get answers, it will make their grief ease in even the slightest way?

 

Image via katerha/Flickr

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