Monday Problem Page: People Think I’m the Nanny

Dear Nanny X,
I cannot believe the racist assumptions people make about families today even in Brooklyn! I’m the proud mom of three gorgeous kids. And – no – we don’t have a Nanny. Dear hubby is Caucasian and I’m a light-skinned African American woman. We’re both educated professionals – we met at Yale – but I took some time out of my career to raise my own children. My kids all take after my husband and I guess the most ethnic they look is Spanish. I cannot tell you how many times somebody has asked me if I’m the Nanny! Sometimes in the playground when I’m watching my two year old someone will come straight over to my child and ask “Are you lost honey?” It makes me mad how people will jump to conclusions. I’m close to boiling over it’s happened so many times now. What do you think I should say or do next time it happens?

Cynthia T

Dear Cynthia T,

first thanks for dropping in the Yale reference as I may just have assumed you went to community college under affirmative action. You have 3 healthy gorgeous children and a nice husband. You can afford to take time out of your career to raise your own children. Fabulous. Plus you probably live in a leafy safe part of Brooklyn. Wait. 

What was your problem again? Oh right …. (you think), when people look at you they think: 

instead of this:

Cynthia T I just have to tell you, 1) Some people are stupid 2) Some people are busy-bodies 3) Some people will make assumptions about you because they are (see #1).

As I posted on MSNBC last week:

So what if they think you’re a Nanny. Who cares. And if you really do care – what does that say about you? Or what you think about Nannies? Or even your fellow women of color who put their own kids through college by taking good care of other people’s. You should be honored to be considered a member of such a hard-working group of people. Respect ladies … please …. throw us a bone.
I am so thoroughly bored by insecure moms who get mistaken for being ‘hired help’ clogging up news media sites with their laments  – get over it! 
I mean why don’t you get really angry and outraged at Monsanto trying to take away your children’s food choices, or get incensed at how fracking could destroy our planet, or drone attacks on innocent civilians in Afghanistan. I mean pick something more important to be annoyed over.
So here’s an idea Cynthia T, next time some twit in the playground assumes you’re the Nanny, casually smile as you reflect upon your personal good fortunes, and reply: “No, actually I’m his/her mom” 
And see what happens. 
Because there’s something far far worse than being assumed you’re the Nanny when you’re a mom, and that’s being assumed you’re a mom when you’re the Nanny. Here’s why: as soon as you let another mom know you’re a Nanny you get dropped like a lead balloon or you will be subjected to a long litany of platitudes about how amazing nannies are when a mom can’t be around. And trust me … that’s agonizing. 

Nanny X