When we think of Instagram, especially in the parenting world, we think of photos of people living their best lives. Here’s a picture-perfect first-day-of-school shot (check out the matching headband), and here we are baking cookies (and in our beautiful kitchen with a farm sink). It’s all so unrealistic!
This phenomenon leaves a lot out — the tiredness, the overwhelming feelings, the tantrums, and especially the nannies. A recent New York Times piece contemplates this topic, interviewing several Instagram-savvy moms about their nanny omissions.
Though nannies may have legitimate privacy concerns (and opt out of photos), many times they have no say in being left out of the pictures. And the problem with doing so can be two-fold: negating the important work that childcare providers do, and creating false images of parenting perfection. (Fakebook, anyone?)
Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, an associate professor of history at the New School and mom of two, told the Times that Instagram sans nannies is about parents taking credit doing it all, even when we aren’t: “I think many of us on social media, probably subconsciously, want to perpetuate this idea that we’re doing it all on our own,” and went on to call her family’s nanny the “third parent.” A third parent sounds like a member of the family, but the caregiver is also a paid professional — so it’s more complicated than a traditional employer-employee relationship.
Grace Savage, a former nanny, told The New York Times that we need to change the perception of “the help,” saying, “I think that a deeply institutionalized notion of ‘place’ is to blame. The domestic doesn’t feel welcome in the photo, and the employer feels no inclination to extend such welcome.”
This piece makes us think twice about how we use social media, and why. Because exclusion, whether of friends or emotions we don’t want to portray, can be harmful on multiple fronts. I say: Let’s acknowledge the people who help us (and our children), and let’s put our authentic selves (not our seemingly perfect ones) out into the world.