We have a lease on our present apartment til December 1st, the plan is that by that time not only will we have a new addition to the family, we will have decided where we want to settle in the city permanently. It’s not that I don’t like what the Upper West Side (UWS) has to offer – lots of kid’s classes, parks, proximity to Central and Riverside Parks, the many different playgrounds and cafes, restaurants and stores that cater to kiddies all within walking distance. But there is one big thing that I don’t like – the nannies. Don’t get me wrong, I have absolutely nothing against nannies. In fact, I have smiled at quite a few at the playground and said hi as I sat down next to them on the bench. Problem is they look right pass me, through me, anywhere but at me. I’ve had a few perfunctory smiles, but all in all they do not want to talk to me.
I was whining about this to Chris the other night, it went a little something like this.
Me: “I can’t make any friends, none of the nannies at the playground want to talk to me.”
Chris: “Will why would they?”
Me: “Because we are both at the park with kids. Wouldn’t the time at the playground pass faster if we all just got along?”
Chris: “Don’t you understand, you’re not one of them, they don’t feel the need to talk to you.”
I don’t understand. I don’t understand the division between mothers and nannies in everyday situations. It’s so against human nature to not interact with people in your immediate surroundings. I took a sociology of sexuality class in College and will always remember the professor saying that through the ages something like 90% of couples get together because of proximity (co-workers, neighbors, fellow parishioners – you get the picture). So if this division is the way the majority roll on the Upper West Side, I’m not sure I want to be part of it. First off, 4 out of 5 women at the playground, at storytimes, etc are nannies which means the chances of me making friends doing day-to-day activities with Preston look pretty slim. With monkey #2 coming in December, I will be an at-home-mom for the foreseeable future so I need a neighborhood that understands community and whose inhabitants are friendly. I’m not saying that UWS moms are not friendly, I wouldn’t know as I haven’t met any.
It hasn’t taken me long to see the lines of division at the park. At one particular playground, it is circular in shape and the benches are placed in 3 different areas along the gate. To one side you will see the Caribbean nannies chatting and texting on their phones, on another bench are Asian nannies and grandparents, on the third bench is what I’ve been told are Dominican nannies and never the 3 shall meet. So not only do nannies and mothers not talk, but within their own profession they stick to their own race. Is this ludicrous or is it just me?
Chris and I have already decided to opt-out of the turf war and stick with our original desire to be in Brooklyn. Both our gut, research and talking to people at his work has pointed us to Brooklyn since we started planning this move – the creative industry; the community feel; good public schools, parks and museums; mothers who stay-at-home, work-from-home, work part-time, nannies. It all sounds much more blended yet balanced at the same time.
The verdict is still out on the exact part of Brooklyn we will start looking in, but it’s exciting nonetheless that we have at least narrowed it down to that Borough.
October 15 update: Huffington Post recently wrote an article on the war between nannies and stay-at-home-moms. The angle they have written from is surprising to me, I did not realize people could be so petty and so able to make flip judgments on people based on status. Or that mothers could be jealous of other mothers instead of supportive in whatever way they decided to raise their kids (as long as the kids are not in harm’s way). This article and conversations I have had after it solidify my belief that the UWS is probably not for us. Not to mention that storekeepers and people at other UWS facilities have mistaken me for Preston’s nanny one too many times. As his former soccer coach informed me, “you never know in this area. It’s usually only the nannies that we meet.”