Who's Watching Baby?

Amy Selco ’97 and Leslie Bellavia ’93 got creative.      

By Emily Hopkins

In August, Redbook magazine published a glowing article about two sets of parents who had come up with an affordable, fairly novel solution to the child care dilemma characteristic of our age: they’d share a nanny to raise their respective sons like brothers. What Redbook failed to mention was that Amy Selco and Leslie Bellavia, the two moms who dreamed up the nanny-sharing scheme, are both Ithaca College alumnae — and that helped seal the deal. 

Amy, an Ithaca High School graduate, is the daughter of Arno Selco, professor emeritus of theater arts, and Helene Selco, former director of Cornell University’s Center for Learning and Teaching. Amy had looked at colleges and universities all over the country, but only Ithaca College “felt right, felt like home.” Leslie, a Syracuse native who now works as a senior internal audit manager in Washington, D.C., decided to attend Ithaca College when she got her first look at Cayuga Lake.

While their paths never crossed during their time in Ithaca, their sons (Amy’s is named Noah, Leslie’s is Ben) were born a day apart at the same hospital in D.C. Later, as members of the same mom support group, Amy and Leslie realized they shared a vision of what kind of child care their sons should have. 

“We both didn’t like any of the day care options,” Leslie says. “And, we both liked the idea of the babies being at home, with personal attention.” A few other lifestyle compatibilities clinched it. Leslie and her partner, Meg, lived en route to Amy’s job, so it was easy for Amy to drop her son off at their house. And, since the couples also had flexible work arrangements that allowed one or the other of them to work from home on certain days of the week, a three-day-a-week nanny share worked perfectly for the first two years.

Since the Redbook article was published last year, however, a lot has changed for the families. “Actually, we were on the verge of completely ending the arrangement,” Leslie explains. Amy got a new job. Leslie and Meg added a second son, Finn, to their family. And Noah and Ben (now three years old) became more of a handful for the nanny. Both women admit to sobbing over the prospect of “tearing the boys apart.”

Instead, they’ve switched to a one-day-a-week schedule. Amy is now working as a fund-raiser for Peaceplayers International, a nonprofit group that brings youth from divided communities—Cyprus, Israel, Northern Ireland, and South Africa — together through basketball. As a result, Amy’s husband, Kevin, now does the pickup and drop-off for the nanny share. Noah and Ben are in preschools and loving it.

“We’re happy that we’re able to do it one day a week,” Leslie says. “Ben often asks if it’s Monday yet so he can play with Noah. For me, I miss those evening catch-ups with Amy.” 

Despite having little or no time now to just sit and chat, the women still remain close — and connected.

“The whole idea of independence that’s been instilled in us doesn’t work when you have kids,” Amy muses. “You really need a community and support network when you have kids. Meg, Leslie, Ben, and Finn have become family to us.”