The incomprehensible tragedy of what happened to those two innocent children on the Upper West Side of Manhattan at the hands, allegedly, of their nanny, Yoselyn Ortega, tears at my heart in more ways than one: As both a mother who adores her children and is terrified of anyone ever harming them and a former nanny who adored the children in my care and never would have dreamed of harming them.
And when I say I adored those kids, I'm not exaggerating. I loved them profoundly. How could anyone take care of an infant 5 days a week, 12 hours a day, and NOT fall in love? When you're working as a nanny, people warn you about not getting "too attached."
Don't get too attached to that baby who falls asleep in your arms every afternoon with her tiny hand curled around your finger. Don't get too attached to that toddler who lights up when you walk in the door every morning and sobs, clinging to your leg, when you leave every night.
Yeah, good luck with that.
I know every nanny doesn't feel the same way about her charges that I did. Still, I suspect that most nannies probably do. So I'm caught between these memories and the raw maternal fear that's gripping every mother right now. It's a strange emotional space to occupy, honestly.
As a mom, I know how terrifying it is to trust anyone with your kids -- absolutely anyone. Because no matter how capable or caring they may be, we feel like no one else could ever love our kids as much as we do, no one else could ever make it through a long day of playground tantrums and bathtime tears and potty training fails and still manage to read the same beloved bedtime story five times in a row. It's scary even when we don't factor the possibility of unforeseen tragedy into the equation. But that could be said of parenting in general.
I can't tell you how to choose the perfect nanny. I can tell you to treat whomever you do hire as a friend or family member -- an equal. I had great relationships with the moms I worked for, in part because all of them recognized that a nanny is more than just an employee. A nanny should be someone who loves your kids, and trust me, you will love your nanny for that.
Do you have a nanny who absolutely loves your children?
Image via Lisa Williams/Flickr