Most important, Kate takes excellent care of Porter, who grins and wriggles with glee when he sees her. But I also appreciate it that we can chat about the treatment of love scenes in novels, having younger brothers, and the merits of backless bras; and I love it that I can impress her with the knowledge that Dave Matthews when my son was four months old, Kate accompanied me to Naples, Florida, where I was to give a talk at a literary luncheon.
Kate was excited about a trip to the beach, and I cringed when I heard her enthuse, “I’ll have to get a new bikini!” At that point, I dreaded the thought of wearing a bathing suit and sitting in the sand next to her. But as it turned out, it was too cold to swim anyway, and as we were walking back from the beach with my son, some boys leaned out of a car window and catcalled us. “See!” she said. “We’re looking pretty good!”
It’s familiar territory, the notion that older women and younger women are bound to be rivals. So much of the culture reinforces this idea, from fairy tales about wicked stepmothers and good, beautiful princesses to exquisite novels like Lolita and Jane Eyre. Nonetheless, I spoke to several mothers who had friendships with their young nannies. Rebecca, a Virginian, noted, “It’s not that I want to go back to that life, but I like hearing about all her dating adventures, all the things I can’t do anymore now that I have a child.” There can be awkward moments. While their nanny was on vacation with them in Florence, one mother’s husband bought the nanny a clingy Dolce & Gabbana dress as a birthday present, which the mother found “interesting.”
I’ve felt both protective of Kate and a little uneasy when her sexiness is called to attention. At my son’s blessing ceremony, a few of the men apparently huddled to ogle her. And she told me how a father whose daughter she baby-sat once said to her, “I paid $ 15,000 to have my wife’s breasts look.