Let’s do a little test – close your eyes and picture a nanny you’ve seen on TV or in a movie.

Who did you picture?

Maria Von Trapp, maybe? Or the iconic Nanny McPhee? Perhaps “The Nanny” portrayed by Fran Dresser? That was the easy part of the test. Now, close your eyes and picture the mom of the kids that famous nanny looks after.

Can’t picture them? It’s because they aren’t around.

That’s right, in most of the prominent depictions of nannies they’re literal replacements for mom, instead of what they actually are the majority of the time—a support partner to moms.

The Sound of Music → Mom died
The Nanny → Mom died
Nanny McPhee → Mom died
Dark Shadows → Mom died

This isn’t a new feature, mom is excluded from a storyline due to death a lot.

Even when mom is alive, they’re either depicted as “bad moms” (See: The Nanny Diaries or The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) or they don’t have a single interaction with said Nanny (see: Mary Poppins). And let’s not even start on the entire sub-section of horror movies with nannies at the center.

In the real world, there’s a lot of unspoken tension between moms and nannies. Those tensions are discussed head-on in the latest episode of the Moms You Meet podcast. They range from judgment on the playground to defensiveness in decision making, and more. When unpacking why those tensions exist and where they come from, it doesn’t take too long to realize that they partly exist because there isn’t a positive model of this unique relationship for moms and caregivers to look toward.

We don’t have a representation of what a healthy mom/nanny relationship is. It’s either non-existent or toxic.

Here’s the reality of a mom/caregiver relationship:

  • You’re on the same team
  • You’re both invested in the child’s development
  • You’re both nervous about getting it wrong

Here’s ways you can foster a healthy relationship:

  • Talk to each other
  • Listen to each other
  • Get to know each other, like really get to know each other.

For better or worse, the raising of children is and has been women’s work. Pitting nannies and moms against each other is just another example of women being pitted against each other instead of lifting each other up.

Let’s break the cycle and open the lines of communication. Starting with the honest, and sometimes uncomfortable, conversations. This podcast is a good start at opening up those conversations, but we need more.

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