Given how many children here are raised by domestic helpers, I thought this story: Love, Money and Other People’s Children by Mona Simpson in the New York Times was particularly appropriate to share. All of these Madonna-esque photos are nannies with their charges.
Here are a few quotes that stood out to me:
“Moms, sometimes they feel the kid likes you more than them, but the thing is that I tell my boss, I say: ‘You know what, remember this: Don’t feel threatened by me. They are your kids. At the end of the day they know who is Mom and who is Dad.’ I’ll do everything for her, but she knows who is her mom. So there’s nothing to worry about.’
“No one can dispute the importance of raising a child. Most parents, holding a new baby, face the most monumental work of their life. Perhaps the reason we often deny caregivers the social position and the respect they deserve is that we are uncomfortable with our absence from the particular chair they occupy, many hours of the day, many days of the year.”
“We don’t like to mix love with money. We want love to come as a gift that offers as much pleasure and reward to the giver as to ourselves. No one receiving love wishes to break it down to its component parts, of good sense and feasibility, much less to consider that payment may be necessary to inspire the whole project.
Even more than we want good love for ourselves, we want it for our children, those vulnerable satellites of our hearts that we send, unsteady, into the world. Lewis Hyde, in his study of gift-exchange societies, tells us that in those economies, the gift needs to go “around a corner.” There must be a middle person or the gift becomes a trade. So the person handing over the money cannot be purchasing love for herself. This is an alchemy that works for working parents. You can pay a person who almost certainly will not love you but, with any luck, may love your child.”