This Mother Nearly Dropped Dead When I Suggested The Nanny Watch Our Kids

woman horror judgementI had a total Mommy Wars/feeling judged moment at school the other day that I’m still trying to figure out what exactly went wrong. Here’s what happened, in a nutshell:

Mother: “Let’s get boys together on Friday since there’s no school that day.”

Me: “Sounds great. Can J. come to us?”

Mother: “Sure thing.”

Me: “Okay. I’ll be working but our nanny will be at home and she’s wonderful. B. will be so excited!”

Mother then proceeds to give me look of horror. Pure shock and horror!

“What’s up?” I asked.

“Why doesn’t B. just come to us?” she answered.

I explained that since I’ll be at work, I wouldn’t be able to drop my son off at her house unless it was super early, nor would I be able to pick him up. Keep in mind that this woman lives 25 minutes away from me – not exactly around the corner. Nonetheless, she offered to drive him both ways – all seemingly to avoid having her child play at my house with a – gasp! – nanny.

Am I being hyper-sensitive here? It was her look of horror that threw me for a loop. It was as if I had told her that my floors are covered in poison. Or that no adult would be home to watch the kids (who are 6 years old, by the way). The truth is, if I’m willing to leave my own two children in the care of our wonderful nanny, then she should trust that her son will be safe, too. And, if not, she should at least fake it (i.e., make something up) rather than staring at me like I had just killed her puppy. [tagbox tag="mommy wars"]

Or, better yet, she could have simply said, “I’m not working so why doesn’t B. come to us? I’d be more comfortable with that.”

Instead, her response made me feel like the worst mom in the world, which I know is really just my own guilt surfacing because of the fact that I choose to work.

I know this isn’t the biggest deal in the world – far from it – and I know that this mother is probably a very sweet woman who had no intention of offending me. But it has stuck with me, and I’m wondering if it’s just me.

Readers, what do you think? Have you ever been in a similar situation? Have you ever been caught off guard and felt judged like this over silly playdate politics? Please share!

(Photo: Photodisc)

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  • Abigail

    I don’t think I would ever leave my kid with someone else’s nanny. Honestly, you don’t know what their experience level is, what they’re like, if a background check has been done on them, where the nanny was found, etc. Now, it would be different if I had met the nanny and been able to do a faux “interview” and get to know her, but just dropping my kid off cold like that? Ain’t gonna happen.

  • Miss Louie

    I think you’re being a tad too sensitive. She might just not have wanted to leave her child with a stranger (which your nanny is to her) and she probably was shocked because she would have initially assumed you were going to be there and you pulled the ole bait and switch on her.

    It hardly sounds like she was making a mimed commentary on your parenting skills.

  • DebMoore

    I agree with the other commentors, I would not/ will not leave my daughter with a stranger (which the nanny is). Sure maybe the other mom could have handled it better but like Miss Louie said perhaps she was surprised at the idea of her kid being watched by a nanny when she was under the impression you would be the one home. I am not sure that I would have reacted very well either. I also am a full time working mom so I understand not being home during the week for play dates. But I don’t just drop my daughter off at peoples houses with caregivers that I do not personally know.
    I am sure your nanny is great, but don’t be butthurt that the mother was taken back by the suggestion of a stranger taking care of her children.

  • Chelsea

    If a mom offers to host a playdate, I would assume that mom, or her spouse/partner would be the one watching my child. If it were a nanny, I would react the same way, offer to host myself.

    As PP said, I wouldn’t leave my child with someone who was a stranger (to me and my family).

  • Carolina

    Really? People won’t leave their kids with someone else’s nanny because she’s a stranger to them? Would they leave them with the dad if he were home? Or a mom they barely know? What kind of judgement is this? That the working mom’s nanny isn’t good enough to watch your children? Or maybe some other class/race thing is at issue here…..

  • Carolina

    Seriously? None of you would leave your children with their friend’s nanny? Why on earth not? Would you drop them off if the father were home? Or a mom you barely knew? If you do the mom, and trust her enought o watch your children (not even your infants!!) wouldn’t you think she’d have enough sense to hire a nanny who is capable? If she’s good enough for her kids etc. Sounds like there’s more to it than dropping your kids with a “stranger”. Do you take them to programs? Or school??? Seems like maybe race or class may have something to do with it….

    • CW

      If it were a nanny or a mom I barely knew, I’d probably suggest a meetup at a park or some other public place like a bowling alley rather than doing a dropoff at the house. I don’t leave my kids alone with strangers in private homes.

    • frances

      There is a huge difference between a program and a nanny hired by a neighbor. I highly doubt that race or class has anything to do with this. Why should the other mother trust that the nanny is competent simply because the author says so?

      I wouldn’t leave my kids with a stranger, period. I would at least want to meet the nanny beforehand, and I would be annoyed that the author would assume that I’d be okay with her not being there.

      The same goes for the father if I don’t know him, or an older sibling, or anyone else I don’t know. Hell, I’d probably be slightly more inclined to leave my kids with a nanny rather than the dad or an older brother. I try not to be one of those paranoid people who see child molesters everywhere, but as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, it’s always something in the back of my mind.

      Also, how do I know that the author has sense enough to do a background check or hire a decent nanny?

      At a program they typically do background checks and other leg work. I know they do here in NY, and I wouldn’t sign my kids up for a program that didn’t. And I am far from a helicopter parent. It’s common sense.

  • Mary

    I don’t see how this is a personal attack on the author’s parenting. The other mother didn’t say anything was wrong with the nanny watching the author’s kids. I’m sure that her lack of willingness to drop her own child off had nothing to do with judging the author’s personal child care choices, but that doesn’t mean that other parents should automatically assume that a nanny checks out just because someone else is using them.

    I also think that it’s kinda rude for the author to just assume that it’s okay to dump extra kids on the nanny. The nanny was hired to watch her kids, not the entire neighborhood. Maybe the other mother was just showing more concern for the nanny’s workload than the author.

  • Ann

    A would absolutely not leave my children with someone I hadn’t met before, or barely knew. If I had never spent time at this mother’s house I wouldn’t leave my kids with the mom, dad, nanny or anyone else. It doesn’t seem they know eachother too well so I think the author is being a little too sensitive.

    And to the person that mentions it might be a race issue …. HUH!? Where did race come into this conversation? Are you assuming the nanny is some other race or something? Wow.

    • Fabel

      “Some other race”? You mean… other than white?

    • frances

      @ Fabel – I think she meant “other than the author’s race”.

  • Andrea

    Can I be YOUR friend? I don’t mind at all having my child at your house with your (I presume) thoroughly checked out nanny.

  • frances

    First I have to called it…”First World Problems”. Second, I wouldn’t feel comfortable leaving my kids with a stranger, and I certainly think the author should have brought it up in a different way, instead of assuming it would or should be okay with the woman.

    I agree, the other mother could have been more direct and less judgmental with her concerns, but why should this woman trust a complete stranger simply because YOU do?

  • Lexasmom

    Shawna, I’m not sure you know this but most people would not leave their child with a stranger. Your nanny is a stranger to J’s mom. Sorry but if I don’t know both parents then I do not drop my daughter off if the one I don’t know is the only one there. Ridiculous to expect someone to be comfortable with your nanny when they haven’t met.

  • Lori B.

    I think you are right on when you say that your feelings about this moment are coming from your own feelings of guilt for working. This mother could have had a number of reasonable reasons for not wanting to leave her child with your nanny that had nothing to do with her judging you. It could be an issue of her trusting her child with a stranger. It could be the idea of burdening someone who she is not paying to care for her child. It could be simply the confusion about whether or not she would have to pay this person. Who knows. I recently visited my brother who employs a nanny for his 2 children. She watched my yougest niece while we took my daughter and my older niece to the movies. She also prepared lunch for all of the children, including my daughter, before we came home. I have to admit that I personally felt a little guilty about this. My daughter is not her responsibility and she is not paid to care for my daughter. I hope this helps to provide a little insight into the many reasons why leaving her child with your nanny may have made this mother feel uncomfortable.

  • Lindsay Cross

    Playdate politics are so insane, because it feels like it should be this easy exchange, yet people tend to get really touchy. And I think it’s so easy to feel judged by other mothers in general, that lots of moms are always on guard. I remember another mom at our pre-school suggesting a playdate because our girls play together a lot in class. When I explained that I worked during the day so it would have to be on the weekend, she kind of glared at me. I guess because I pick up my daughter during my lunch hour, she assumed I was a SAHM. She responded, “Well I would hate to take your child away from paid care to play at our house…”

    The whole thing felt like a high-dollar business negotiation. I didn’t know what she meant and I don’t know if she misinterpreted what I said. Basically, a lot of my insecurity made a simple playdate a much bigger deal for me, so I completely get what you’re saying Shawna.

    • CW

      I was an employed mom until my 2nd child was born and I totally support women making their own individual decisions about paid employment.

      That said, if I saw you at preschool pickup and never your nanny, I would make the assumption that you were a full-time homemaker or working just during the preschool hours. I would have had to decline your playdate invitation because I reserve weekends for family time.

  • KB

    To all of you who say “I wouldn’t leave my child with a stranger, which the nanny is,” ummm, how well do you know the moms of all the kids in your child’s class? I mean, this lady was willing to drop her kid off at the mom’s house, and she doesn’t even know that she works. So, what’s the difference exactly? Do you think that just because they are a mom they’re automatically ok to watch your kid? No one has to have a background check to be a parent, you know. And plenty of nannies are parents themselves. I don’t get the logic if you’ll bring the kid to the mom but not the nanny.

  • Britt

    Let me begin by saying, I’d like to put in my two cents as a former nanny. Before I was hired to be a nanny, the family ran a background check on me. It came back good (or clear, not sure what the term is), and I was hired. Now, of course, everyone has different parenting styles and levels of trust, but to say you don’t trust the same person –IF they have a background check, and have been with the family for a while– is a bit offensive. I realize the author didn’t discuss whether or not she ran one on her nanny, but from what I can tell she is very fond of her nanny. And if the nanny has been with the family for a while, there is a certain amount of trust built. For example, when I first nannying, even though I had a background check and bonded with the kids, I noticed the mother hardly ever left the house. After a month or so, the parents got out of the house at every chance they could get, so I assume they had much more trust in me after knowing me for a while– as they should’ve. And I wouldn’t quite call a nanny you haven’t met a ‘stranger.’ Yes, you don’t know her. But someone you know trusts her. Someone walking down the street, and don’t know through any of your friends is a stranger. Of course, it is totally up to you who to trust. I’m not saying because your friend trusts Mrs. X to watch her kid that you should too automatically, but I would think it would help a bit. Also, meeting the nanny would help too. I remember as a kid, my mom would agree to drop me off at one of my friends house, who’s mom she had never met. She would meet her very briefly before allowing me to stay, although that was a ‘different time’ as they now say.

    I believe someone in the comments assumed that the author did not ask the nanny if it was okay to watch another child. Here is my imput on that: when I was a nanny, the children would very rarely have one of their friends over. The parents did not ask me if it was ‘okay,’ which I didn’t expect them to do. If it got to be a regular thing where it was requiring extra work, I might say something. However, it was an 8-year-old who had her friend come over once in a while. They played on their own, got their own snacks, etc., so it really wasn’t more work. Plus, I was already getting compensated really well, so it would seem greedy to ask for more especially when I didn’t have to do anything extra. But each situation can be different with each family and their nanny. Perhaps the nanny mentioned she was only comfortable watching X amount of children, and to have a playdate would go over her limit. Who knows.

    I have gotten a bit off topic, but I just wanted to give some nanny insight to this topic. I guess I didn’t realize people have become so much more protective of their children. I get it: We hear a lot about kidnappings/abuse in the media, but I hate to break it to you, most of them are done by family members.

    It sounds like there is a big fear of the unknown. I would also assume, if this woman the author was going to have a playdate with had a nanny herself, she wouldn’t have felt half the shock she did. I think when you have a nanny, you just trust her. And Ms. Shawna, no, you should not feel bad or guilty about inviting your son’s friend over to play with the nanny. Maybe next time (if there is a next time), you could invite her over for dinner to enjoy with the nanny, your son, her son, and yourself. Then she would get to see the nanny in her ‘work environment’ while being in a comfortable home atmosphere.

    If I was nannying for someone and they flat out said ‘I don’t want my child over here because I don’t trust your nanny’ that is a bit offensive, to someone who works exclusively with children, in the family’s home.

    That’s just my two cents. Please don’t bite my head off or anything. Just wanted to give another perspective. :)

    • CW

      I’m also a former nanny and I wouldn’t have been at all offended if some mom friend of my employer whom I didn’t know well declined to have her child do a playdate while I was in charge. I always used to wonder about families who would hire me to babysit simply based on my being the nanny for someone they knew without having me come interview first.

  • I

    I am starting to feel that if I grew up in the US I would have never have met/played/hung out with anyone as a kid. This is ridiculous. All of it.
    Background checks, mothers feeling guilty because they work, moms not trusting nannies, “race” issues…what is this, horrorland?

  • Lauren

    It’s possible that it had nothing to do with the nanny. Maybe the other mother just wanted to be able to spend some time with the kids around, I can relate to that. Maybe when she said she wanted to get the boys together she meant with all of you. But even if she didn’t want to leave her son with your nanny I don’t think she was implying that you were doing something wrong, just rather that she wasn’t comfortable with leaving him with someone that was a stranger to HER. It’s all GOOD!

  • Jessica Cunningham

    I personally would have done the same thing. When I have a playdate I want to talk to the other mother while the kids play. The nanny is not a reasonable substitute because she is just the help (but a wonderful thing for working moms).

  • angela

    I am a nanny. I don’t want to be presume upon to watch someone else’s chil, but the parents would never do that to me. I am more like the mom of these kids in the neighborhood and I arrange playdates with three other families that I personally socialize with. Knowing what I know, I would never ever leave my own children or the children I take care of with someone I did not know. Nanny, or mother or father, etc. Six years old is not old. This mother lived too far away (25) minutes to leave her child anywhere with someone she did not have a personal relationship with. I haven’t seen one place yet where anyone was concerned with how comfortable the child dropped off would be with a stranger that was to serve as his authority figure. Mothers that work and mothers that do not work all can be remiss in what is right for their child. BTW, background checks only show if someone has been arrested in last 7 years and it doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

  • Jessica

    The fact she lived 25 minutes away, and had never met your nanny is likely all she had a problem with. I personally will not leave my children with someone I haven’t met, even then, I have to know them on some level. I would be very uncomfortable leaving my kids with even the best nanny in the world, unless I had met her previously and gotten to know her a bit. That’s just who I am. The mother didn’t handle the situation in the best way, but I cam assure you, it probably had nothing to do with you having a nanny. If you had said “I leave him with a sitter, or neighbor” she probably would have had the same reaction. That is quite the distance to leave a child with someone you don’t know.

  • neva_eva_always

    Why is this even an issue? She said it was NOT that the other mom didn’t want to leave her child but her REACTION to a nanny. Read something before commenting and you might make yourself sound like an adult not a child who doesn’t know the big words.