Guest post by Melissa Chapman
It's a mother's unfathomable nightmare. The idea that the person in whose hands you leave your kids could turn around and harm them. It's a situation every working parent grapples with; finding that perfect combination of love, affection and street smart sense in an individual who will care for your offspring when you can't care for them yourself. Yesterday the tony Upper West side of Manhattan was rocked over the horrific details which emerged after a mother, Marina Krim, returned to her apartment to find her two kids, Leo, 2, and Lucia, 6, allegedly stabbed to death by their 50-year-old nanny, Yoselyn Ortega. Even typing out this last sentence, my stomach is in knots, at the thought that this mother — who just hours before had written a lovely blog post about her kids and their mundane, yet completely extraordinary milestones and lives — could suffer such a devastating loss.
As a working parent — or as this mom was, a parent who needed an extra set of hands to help with her three young children — how can one process the aftermath of this situation, and the fear that a person you hire to come into your home and protect your most precious of assets, your children, could be capable of such an atrocity? Up until she had her third child, this mother was a stay-at-home mom who cared for her kids exclusively. When she and her husband had chosen to look for childcare, they had been extra careful in hiring their nanny and vetting her, going as far as to spend nine days with her family in the Dominican Republic before inviting her into their home. This family took every precaution to vet the credentials of this woman, so how can a parent ever know what lurks in the heart of her nanny ?
Sure, millions of parents have been leaving their kids in the care of nannies for thousands of years, and this type of tragedy is relatively rare. Even if parents follow all the recommendations for finding a capable and supportive caregiver, is there ever a guarantee that something like this couldn't happen?
According to Elissa Freeman, whose daughter has been in the care of a nanny since she was two and a half, this tragedy has hit a chord. "So many of us entrust the care of our children to live-in caregivers," says Freeman. "This is a very unusual and tragic case and not all caregivers should be painted with the same brush. As a mother, I would hope the vetting process on behalf of the agency was sound, as would be my own good judgment."
Cara Paiuk, an Upper West Side mom who just last year wrote this post about her beloved nanny, says UWS moms are going to be freaking out over this and rightfully so but, they shouldn't let it change their lives.
"I won't live in fear," says Paiuk. “Honestly, I think what happened is an isolated incident. No amount of vetting, or gut instinct, which is what my husband and I used, can ensure the safety of our kids. It's all a crap shoot and we just do our best. We loved our nanny. She was part of our family. Could I say with 100 percent certainty that she wouldn't lose her sh*t one day and do something unthinkable? Probably not.”
For most working parents, childcare is not a luxury; it is a necessity. There are no words of comfort for these grieving parents and, as a collective community, we need to look at this tragedy and measure it against our own lives. That every moment spent with our loved ones is a precious gift not to be squandered. And unfortunately, try as we might to protect and guide our children and steer them clear from any and all harm, we simply can’t.
Do you have any advice or thoughts you can share which have helped you find the right caregiver for your kids?