Mary Poppins Makes Way for the Manny

"You have a built-in surf teacher," added Peterson. "Part of the deal is free surf lessons whenever we want."

Cliff Greenhouse runs Pavilion Agency in Manhattan, a company that places nannies and mannies with the most well-heeled families in New York.

"We have placed many over the years … but there's not enough. The percentage of male nannies in the work force is probably less than 1 percent," he said. "Many of the child-care providers we place are making salaries in the excess of $100,000. The only thing holding back the growth, probably, is the lack of males interested in doing this as a career."

It may also be the case that some New York society fathers just aren't ready for the concept of employing a manny, but Peterson said her husband wasn't jealous.

"Most husbands, when they hear about it, get really jealous," she said. "They feel displaced. They feel like they want to teach their kids how to throw a spiral. … But my husband didn't [feel jealous]. My husband really felt a lot of solidarity with my son."

Are Mannies 'Sexessories?'

A word of advice: If you're a mother considering taking the manny route, don't give Peterson's book to your husband. The manny in the novel is portrayed as a desirable "sexessory" for lonely, wealthy wives, and the book features a steamy affair between the neglected mom and her hunky, snowboarding manny.

"It's not real life, it's fiction," said Peterson. "I don't believe it happens in real life much, to tell you the truth."

Greenhouse said that he'd "heard of instances where the manny or the nanny would have romantic relationships with their employers, but it is highly unusual."

And what has been the response from Peterson's friends and fellow moms?

"They wonder about a guy in the house during the day," she said. "I can't lie about that. They do. … If you have a guy in the house, people wonder, they ask. They ask that question. I laugh. I say, 'He's like my little brother, you know. He's 19. It's not like that."

And Peterson believes that mannies are often more qualified to care for children than Mary Poppins and her cohorts ever were. After all, it's hard to find a grandmotherly figure who can throw a tight spiral.

"It's also hard to find your grandmotherly nanny throwing them across the bed, getting in a pillow fight, getting more excited than they are in the middle of the pillow fight," Peterson said. "I mean, he gets more excited than they do half the time. When you work hard, you want your kids to be happy and have fun, so that's the main thing. So if you can find the guy who's responsible, who you really trust, I recommend it."

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