Baby & Toddler

The Nanny Share Nightmare



This nanny-share business is a lot like dating.

D.C. is blessed with a large number of online parent networks—hyperlocal and greater DC listservs that make you feel like you’re not alone in this grand experiment of raising a child and give you great advice on questions big and small. I’ve always felt a real bond with these people.

Until now. After a long, hard summer, I’ve come to the conclusion that a large segment of the parents in D.C. are psychopaths. Or at the very least, not looking out for my family’s welfare. In the slightest.

We spent our summer desperately searching for a spot in a nanny-share for our little boy.  I never dated much (I was more of a serious monogamist), but now I think I understand that unique hell. The feeling of possibility at the beginning. That wonderful moment when you realize you might just live happily ever after. The weeks spent building and strengthening the new relationship. And then…sudden, crushing, rejection.

There was the family that spent weeks talking and meeting with us only to reveal that we were only one of several families they were talking to, and we hadn’t made the cut.

They then introduced us to the family who strung us along for a month but ultimately committed. It was full steam ahead until their baby became super-mobile, thus freaking out her parents, who broke up with me via email.

And there were others. Each rejection found me cranky and weepy, cursing our neighbors and our bad luck.

Sick of the abuse, I decided to seize control of the situation and build my own share. I found a great nanny, the perfect family, and even decided I could pay for the nanny solo for a few weeks until they could start. Long story short, the nanny took an unexpected jaunt to Senegal, the share family got spooked by the unreliability of nannies vs. daycare, backed out, and I was back to square one. And a whole lot poorer.

By the end of September, all of the drama had worn me down.  Worse yet, it had eroded my basic belief in the goodness of other people AND completely destroyed my faith in my own judgment. How could I be so wrong about these people so many times? Just thinking about it would bring me to tears.

Compounding everything was the fact that my older boy was slowly freaking out. Seems that my nanny drama had become his nanny drama, and he was too little to cope with the stress and just broke down at any tiny frustration. On doctor’s orders, we put a moratorium on nanny-talk during the children’s waking hour. God bless that M.D.; this was the relief that we ALL needed.

Today I go whole days without stressing about the situation. We’ve got a nanny we trust and can rely on, and are slowly putting the share pieces in place.

We’re cautiously optimistic. Because psychopaths or no psychopaths, I’ve got to believe in the goodness of other parents. The alternative is unthinkable.

Lili Kalish GerschLili Kalish Gersch is the director of literature, music and Jewish life at the Washington DCJCC and the former managing editor of MyJewishLearning.com. She lives in Washington, DC with her husband and three sons.

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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