Mommy Musings

Of Househelps

March 7, 2016
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This is how great platforms become irrelevant. In this hugely competitive global village, you slack for one second and before you know it 10 bigger and better bloggers in your forte emerge and no one cares to visit your page any more. After all, they kept refreshing it for a whole week to no success! But forgive me for I have a very valid reason for going undercover.The last week has been a complete roller coaster ride for me. I have pretty much been operating like a zombie and never experienced this level of fatigue and sleep deprivation, not even when either of my kids were weeks old. I lie, it was crazy when Xena was weeks old as I was a first time mother clueless about everything. But with Xia, a walk in the park is an understatement! Before you wonder where I am going with this and move on to the next interesting read, let me indulge you.

So two weeks ago, my ever so exuberant nanny/househelp started acting up. I have had her for almost two years and not a single day has she sulked at any of us. Of course she experiences the usual sadness and worry that engulfs any human being once in a while but she always tries her best to suppress that and not let it get in the way of her work. But this time round she was nothing like I have seen her before! She suddenly developed a hearing problem and I would have to call her name about three times before she responded, even when she was five metres away! She stopped being chatty and our conversations were now characterized by me having a monologue and her responding with one worded answers. On one particular day, I came back from my errands to find the curtains haphazardly drawn and the sitting room in a sorry state.

“How were the kids today? Did they disturb you? What did you give Xena and did she eat well?”

“Wako sawa.”

“Did the baby feed well today?”

“Yes.”

Meanwhile, when i checked the records where she notes down the baby’s daily feeds, she had only drunk 210mls of milk between 8am and 4pm and she normally does between 450-500mls!) How in anyone’s world is that good? When you look at the baby in the photo, does she look like she would be ok with 210mls in 8 hours? I immediately knew there was a big problem! At that point, I contemplated being a fulltime mom but then who was going to take care of my shoes addiction? And the many holidays I want to go for this year, who will pay for my shopping? So I snapped back into reality and decided to think through this whole quagmire.

I sat her down and asked her if all was well and she told me that her mom was unwell. She was hoping she could go see her over Easter but since she had excitedly committed to going with us to the coast then, she did not know what to do. Please note that at that point, Easter was exactly five weeks away. If my mom was critically ill (God forbid), would I wait for five weeks to go see her? Of course not. But that’s just me I guess. I suggested to her that her mom needed her then and not in five weeks time so she should go and take care of her. I told her to take off for 10 days from Friday to Sunday and gave her a full month’s salary, bus fare and shopping for her mom. Since this was the first time in almost two years that any of her family member was unwell, I decided to trust her to be telling the truth. After all, they say shame on you if you fool me once, right?

The first weekend as a fulltime mom was not too bad, if anything, the help is always away on weekends. It is the weekdays that got me fully cognizant of how demanding and taxing and draining running a home with a husband and two kids can be! I had just gotten used to having 6-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep and all of a sudden, like clockwork, i had to be up every morning at 6.00am to make breakfast and get Xena ready for school. Let’s not get into how frustrating it can be feeding an unbothered toddler with limited amount of time, as I captured here and talked about a while back over here. Before I knew it, it was 7.30am and the dad was already whimpering about how he was never going to make it for his Monday morning brief this year!! How about you wake up at 6.00am on Mondays and help get your daughter to eat breakfast, dad? How about that!

Meanwhile, Xia is awake and cooing happily as we are all skidding up and down the house trying to get ready. The moment father and daughter step out at 7.45am, I take a deep breath and sit down to gobble up my breakfast. Then Xia lets out a piercing cry as if to mean that I should not take advantage of her patience! So I abandon my egg and spinach and tend the baby. She takes a whole 180ml bottle of milk in one sitting and immediately goes back to sleep! (remember how the help ony fed her 210ml between 8am to 4pm? Sigh). I manage to finally have my breakfast and I start cleaning up. I could not believe my eyes when I saw the amount of dirt that lay in areas such as behind the fridge and cooker. I suddenly noticed how dirty the windows and curtains were and how half of Xena’s toys lay behind the couch! I decided to start with the kitchen and turn everything upside down. Newspapers, empty bottles, rotten arrow roots and much more came out of the ever so dark pantry/store and all of a sudden after I lined the shelves with new sheets of paper, it looked so bright! Within no time, the entire kitchen was sparkling. I was so proud of myself until I heard Xia cooing, looked at my phone only to see it was already midday! Dirty clothes which by now should have been laundered and drying up outside still lay in their baskets. The rest of the rooms were still in a sorry state and worse still, Xena would be getting home from school in no time and I would have to spend about an hour if not more overseeing that she eats her lunch.

That was my life last week and it’s a miracle I made it through, alive! On one morning, I somehow did not hear my alarm go off and thehubs was also dead asleep. I only embarrassingly jumped out of bed at 7.15am when I heard Xena knocking on the door and calling out my name!

The important thing is that I realized the amount of work that Mercy the help is faced with on a day-to-day basis is crazy! She was completely burnt out hence the mood swings. See previously there was only one child (well two including thehubs) and she managed fairly well. But now there are two (three hehe) and much as one can argue that other helps handle much more work than that, I personally couldn’t so I can’t expect her to. Because if I do, there will be a neglected baby, a dark pantry, lots of toys under the seat and lazily drawn curtains. And of course mood swings galore! So i decided to get extra help to assist her with the daily chores and made it clear to her that 210ml of milk drunk in eight hours is not acceptable!

Have a fruitful week and do not forget to subscribe. I promise we are back to regular blogging!

Joy D’Souza.



17 Comments

Lilian

Joy, remember telling u how hard it is to have kids in the states? This is why, you have to do everything yourself no help at all just you n hubby to care for the kids, house chores yet u have to be at work. Gal u lucky to have her and am glad u got her extra help. Appreciate what u have dear.

Bree

Heh, pole Mama Xena. Had I known I’d have come to help over the weekend at least.
Otherwise, thanks for such blogs. Prepares me for what to expect when I get there.

MOKEIRAH

Iam a single girl…with a house help who I can’t live without.She is a gem!But Joy we have to agree that I need to buy you that super human crown,it’s long overdue.

    Lil'missbelle

    I love this comment!! Ati a single girl with a house help you can’t live without! Lol 🙂 🙂 Wait until you get kids, or even a pet hehe. I will be most happy to buy you a drink when you get overwhelmed.

Mukami

House work is no joke! I thank the Lord for giving me a helper who loves my kid. I try as much as possible to be a good employer, giving time off, paid leave and paying medical whenever she is unwell because I can’t imagine her being poached! Now Joy, you need to remove the hubs from the list of children tafadhali. We have to do that for our daughters because I really want my daughter to expect help from her partner. It is exhausting being everything and our partners are that, partners, who should pitch in and not be one of the kids! That’s why I hated that dettol advert that referred to the husband as one of the children. It perpetuates certain gender stereotypes that need to change.

    Lil'missbelle

    I have informed my website designer to include a tag feature in the comment section! I think all ladies would love to tag their partners to you comment for them to realize that it is common for women to need help. We are not super human!I wont deny that my husband helps out alot, but sometimes when i need him to and he is tired he will claim that he always helps out and I should just let him off the hook. And i totally hear you, no more referring to them as babies. They may get spoilt rotten! Thanks for reading.

Beatrice Ngalish

Hi am Beatrice l have been working for 10 years as a househelp it’s not easy coz me l managed with three kids atill now it’s going to 11years and she appreciates my work so much. And I love her kids the first born is in class six, second born class three,lastborn class one l feel good because they are growing so fast .l look at the kids and am like l did a good job. My employer is a good employer she understands me l understand her whenever l go wrong she corrects me. Comminaction is the key. The most important thing is the kids first before anything else. They have eaten, enough sleep,they have played and their full .when they started going to school my employer decided l should go back to school l did baking at Valentine school of cake. I finished in the year 2013 now am baking at home but still taking care of the kids and a part time job at Valentine and next year am going back to school for farther education. So what l can say here is that we should look both sides it’s really hard .but if you have a program of the day is manageable

    Lil'missbelle

    Thank you so much Beatrice for your valuable insights. It is comments like yours that make me want to continue highlighting my motherhood journey! I am so happy for you for the growth you have experienced and I pray that I can be as helpful to my househelp as your employer was to you. I totally agree that housework while taking care of kids is no joke and both parties need to meet halfway and agree on terms that are not unfair to any party. Wishing you all the very best as you advance your education and thank you so much for reading my blog!

esther

Hi, am a a working mom, to a two and a half year old and eight month babies, i understand exactly what you mean, and that’s why i wake up at 4am with my house help get everything done because babies can be a handful so by the time a leave for work, she is just waiting for them to wake , that way works for all of us, during the day her attention is only on the babies. cant complain babies are doing great i have had her for almost 5 months now

    Lil'missbelle

    Esther, first things first, we may be related going by your second name. Secondly, you wake up at what time again??? Damn! This is a true example of the strength of a woman.Some of us (read me) struggle to wake up so this definitely cannot work for me. However, I am happy that it works for you and your help, and that the babies are doing great. Thank you for your input ma. Keep coming back.

Mama Ivanna

Waaa..what would we do without our helpers? They are the reason we can stay sane. I have always had my cleaning lady come in 2 times a week to assist our nanny who then has to only concentrate on the baby. Now with a new baby, she might have to come in daily once I am back to work.

    Lil'missbelle

    We would trully go nuts without our helpers Mama Ivanna! How is baby boy doing though? I hope Ivanna is excited to have him around. You will definetely need extra help around the house unless you can wake up at 4.00am like Esther above. Try fine tunning things in your house while you are on maternity leave to see what works best for you.



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