She may have been the smartest “Brady,” yet she wasn’t a Brady at all. She was the housekeeper. Actually, she was more than that. She was the glue that kept this classic American blended family together. She was the after-school sitter, the dog walker, the cook, the confidante, and the advisor. She was Alice. Officially, she was actor Ann B. Davis. But the mononym “Alice” will forever be heard as the epitome of a family caregiver.
Why? What made Alice so special?
TV maids have made us laugh for years. But it was Alice who nurtured us. Did we ever see her cleaning much? Not really. Yet she was always “there” for each child, for each parent, even for the dog….and probably a little for us viewers too. She made it okay in 1969 when your family care plan included someone other than Mom and Dad.
And there’s something more that Alice can still teach us. As the parenting expert at Care.com, I often give parents advice on hiring childcare, creating a good relationship with your nanny and other parenting and care-topics. I’ve never thought about the Alice/Brady relationship before, but it’s really the perfect example of a great family/ nanny dynamic.
Sure, Alice was the housekeeper. But she ran the Brady house like a live-in nanny would. And regardless of her title, she was the third parent in that household. It helped that Carol, Mike -- and the kids -- treated her with that type of respect. As viewers, we didn’t see them talk down to her or treat her as anything less than family.
This is what Alice can still teach us today. She loved those kids as if they were her own, and everyone treated her as if her last name was Brady. We all may know families who run because a crazy-organized nanny is behind the curtain, pulling all the levers to make the family look good. To make the parents look good. Losing Alice gives us the important reminder to thank all the caregivers in our lives, to treat them well, and to know they offer (and provide) a lot more than the tasks on our to-do lists.