Sunday, September 25, 2011

Mannies wanted

Eugen Keler with his black nanny, 1874. Public domain by copyright expiration.

Not long ago, really only a matter of decades, entire generations of wealthy Southern males and females were raised not by their mothers, but by, usually black, servant ladies who went by names like "Miss Marcy" and "Miss Denise" and who were given the important job of raising the next generation of a wealthy, Southern family. When these men came in to town, the first person they visited was not their parents, it was who raised them.

It was a good deal for the Mannies too. The pay may not have been much, but their erstwhile "masters" were often very generous in the form of gifts and benefits, and this member of the family was taken care of exactly like that - a member of the family. And they could live in a nice room in a nice mansion, and when the family got Filet Mignon or ate out, so more often then not did they.

Today, wealthy, intelligent women with hard careers aren't having children. Now it is true that there is the little matter of passing a bowling ball through a tiny hole (it may be hard to "put a camel through the eye of a needle" in the words of scripture, but women do it on a regular basis), and no one can really help you with that, besides the obvious possibility of cutting you open, but we as a society can help you with what comes after. We can provide Mannies, people to take care of the child you are too busy for, and he will still be yours, and family, but if you are too busy with your career what is not neccesary need not be minded.

It seems that today we have a resistance or hate or even unnegotiableness to the notion of Mannies, to the notion of someone else raising our children, but we shouldn't. Why shouldn't someone who has time look after our kids? Is it better if no one is there for them just because you can't be? Is it better to simply never have children, and never experience any of it, just because you can't handle all of it? And obviously this solution only works for the wealthy. But why shouldn't it work for who it does?

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