THE BLOG
10/26/2012 04:45 pm ET Updated Dec 26, 2012

Trying to 'Have It All' With a Nanny

How many tears of working parents fell on keyboards today as they started their day reading the headlines and learned of the horrific killing of Lucia and Leo Krim at the hand of the person their parents entrusted to care for them -- their nanny?

Mine certainly did.

It had not been much more than 15 minutes earlier that I had kissed my son goodbye, thanked his nanny and waved goodbye to both of them as the elevator door closed and I headed off to work.

It's enough to be a working mother -- constantly inundated by the discussion of whether or not we can "have it all" -- and then to hear this awful tale that plants a seed of fear about how maybe you can't even trust the one person who, for those of us trying to do it, helps us keep it together. I respect every parent's choice to stay-at-home or not, but until today, I have never heard a more compelling case to do so.

I had a strong urge to immediately quit my job, fire my (no-reason-to-suspect-anything-like-this-would-ever-happen-with-her) nanny and say screw it to the thousands of dollars spent on a top-flight education and to the years of hard work invested in building a career. Screw it to trying to make it in New York City -- where for most families, dual incomes are required -- let's move to some less-desirable, less-expensive city, have a less-interesting life but rest assured that our children will be safe in our care at all times.

But I didn't, and we won't, do any of that.

I remember the first day I went back to work as a mother. I was lucky to spend his first four months at home with him and when the time came, we hired a lovely woman to be his nanny. Her references were glowing. There was no reason to worry but yet, crazy imaginations -- not too far off from the reality of today's story -- flooded my mind that day. How could I have left this most precious person with someone I barely even know?

Every day since then got easier. It is a reality that many parents are familiar with, and unless there are some radical changes in how Americans live and work, it is the way it is.

Nannies are a concept that is hard to understand if you live in a part of the country where they are not as common as they are for those of us in Manhattan and its surrounding areas -- just ask my family in Texas. In the discussion of women "having it all," there isn't much talk about the role of caretakers and the essential role they play in a family. If you are a woman with career pursuits, who doesn't live near family, at some point, you will entrust your child to the care of someone you, truth be told, don't know very well.

But over time, if you're doing it right, they should become like family.

That is why it was so amazing that when Amy Poehler was honored by TIME as one of the top 100 influential people in 2011, when she could have thanked Hillary Clinton or Lorne Michaels, she thanked her nannies for allowing her to achieve her success:

...it was the women who helped me take care of my children. It is Jackie Johnson from Trinidad and it is Dawa Chodon from Tibet, who come to my house and help me raise my children...Those are people who love your children as much as you do, and who inspire them and influence them and on behalf of every sister and mother and person who stands in your kitchen and helps you love your child, I say thank you and I celebrate you tonight.


Today's news is incredibly disturbing. It's enough to make you question your decisions as a parent and our way of life. But it was a freak event -- and it's important to remember that most nannies care and love our children as if they were their own.

We'll hold our children much tighter this weekend. But come Monday morning, we'll kiss them goodbye, thank their caretakers and head off to work -- hopeful that they will be in safe and loving hands.

Erika Soto Lamb, like so many others, is a mother who lives and works in New York City.