Saturday, March 8, 2014

My Love/Hate Relationship with 'The Help'

Since I've moved overseas, I've had a maid.  When I was being 'sold' on moving to the Dominican Republic, Kimi at Las Picharditas informed me that it was the done thing to have someone come and clean your house for you.  And it was cheap.  And they would do a really, really good job.  Sometimes, you could find a maid who liked to cook and then you would have dinner waiting for you when you came home.  Um.  Okay.  Sounds great.  Where do I sign up for that?

When we got the fur-babies in Kuwait, we needed someone to come and walk them during the day and Vivien appeared.  She was magical with the dogs but we lived in a teeny-tiny apartment and didn't really need someone to clean everyday.  So she cleaned three days a week (dog hair) but did the dishes and made the bed every day.  It was only the weekends that we were aware of exactly how much the dogs shed and how lazy and sloth-like we had become in caring for our own home.

In Guatemala, we got our first NANNY.  Obviously we needed one as the Ladybug, at two months old, was hardly capable of taking care of herself while we were at school, advanced though she is.  The dogs were also no help in that area as neither had learned to cook and making bottles was difficult without opposable thumbs.  Andrea came every day at 7am and left promptly at 3:30pm.  She would babysit on a weekend on the rare occasion that we both wanted to go out and I was even brave enough to leave her for an overnight trip once for our farewell weekend.

It was hard to leave the Ladybug everyday but I knew she was safe in Andrea's capable hands.

Here in Bahrain, you not only have a maid, but a live-in maid/nanny is the thing to do.  As far as I know, all houses are built with maid's quarters- ours is on the third floor alongside the washer/dryer.  I wasn't sure how I felt about having a live-in so the first nanny we hired came over each day, just like Andrea.  It was okay at first, though truthfully, she and I never really clicked.  She clearly preferred the Sprout (a teeny-tiny thing) to the Ladybug and was happy to sit holding the Sprout, watching the Food Network while the Ladybug, at 18 months old, tried to amuse herself.

We let her go.

And we hired Luz.  And Luz wanted to live at our house.  So we said okay.  Luz is amazing- she takes care of my kids, feeds my dogs, does my laundry and keeps my house clean.  I can ask her to cook dinner if I know we're going to be late and if the Rugby Star and I both have something to do one night or we want to go out, she's there to babysit.  She clearly adores my kids (probably the Sprout a little more than the Ladybug if I'm being honest, but the Ladybug is a little sassier, so...) and they like her.  She knows a lot of other nannies in the neighborhood and will take the kids out the park in the afternoons to play and burn off some energy.  At night, when we take the girls up for a bath, she sneaks downstairs and cleans up after dinner so that when we're done getting those pickles in bed, we're done for the night.  It's pretty awesome.

The title of this post is My Love/Hate Relationship... and you might be asking, "What in God's name is there to hate?!"  And the truth is, there's only one thing.  And that is simply that I want to be doing the things she's doing with my kids.  Sometimes, depending on when I'm getting home, they'll just be heading out to the park.  I want to grab them both and take them back inside with me or go to the park with them.  But dinner needs to be made.  And they need to socialize.  I could ask Luz to make dinner but, unless she's made it before, it takes much longer to explain everything than if I just do it myself.  Also, I won't lie- it's nice to be alone in the house sometimes.

But that makes me feel guilty.

If she wasn't there, I wouldn't have the choice of dinner or playground- it would clearly be one or the other.  But this is the way it's done in Bahrain.  there isn't really another option, aside from getting another nanny who doesn't live with us, which would just be bad form at this point.  And I like having the option of going out with the Rugby Star whenever I want or popping over for a grown-up play date now and again.  Having a live-in nanny takes a lot (A LOT) of the stress out of my life.

Part of me doesn't mind letting someone else (besides just me and the Rugby Star) help me raise my kids... but clearly the bigger part does. 

The Ladybug had her birthday party this weekend.  Fun was had by all.  Minions were involved.  

Everyone has fun at our house... whether they want to or not!

Good try, Sprout!
Not even a little Despicable!


12 comments:

  1. It all sounds good. I just don't know if I could have someone live in my house who wasn't family. But maybe it's just such a foreign concept to me. I don't know if I would feel comfortable in my own house knowing that someone else was there ... but that said ... I think I would love having someone to help out like that!

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    1. It's very strange. Like you're always a little aware that someone else could come in at any moment. Most days, she disappears upstairs at about 7:30pm and we don't see her or hear her for the rest of the night. But some nights, like last night, I had just settled down on the couch, not feeling well, and she came home (didn't know she was gone) and started doing the dishes. While I can't complain because I didn't have to do the dishes... it wasn't as relaxing and I wanted it to be.

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  2. Isn't that just the thing with motherhood. There's no way to have it all, sad as that is. I love, love, love being a stay at home mom, getting to do all the things with my kiddo. But, dang it if sometimes I don't dream of going to an office. Or, yes, having a night off with the hubs (which we've done exactly one time since she was born, and we hardly knew what to do with ourselves so ended up finishing dinner early and wandering around the supermarket). I think you're lucky to have found someone you click with so that at least you know that the kids are with someone who will be a great influence on them.
    You'll always be Mom. There's no substitute for that.

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    1. It's easy to remember that 'I'll always be mom' on those nights when I come home and they run and jump and scream- best. feeling. ever. And then I don't feel so guilty for sending them off to the park to play with their friends while I snuck mini-Snickers and watched Crime TV... which may or may not have happened tonight ;)

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  3. When my family moved to Malaysia for two years they had a maid and my dad would IM me stuff like "ugh the maid is late so i had to make my own coffee" and i thought he was a rich b*tch but yeah that's just how it's done.
    But if you didn't feel guilty about SOMETHING then you wouldn't be a proper mom lol.

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    1. That's so true, Bre! If I wasn't feeling guilty about something... yeah, I have moments like your dad had. I think, "Dang, where are my pants? Why aren't they washed by now?!" And then I remember that I'm not washing them and to stop complaining- they'll get done when they get done :) It's a hard-knock life!

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  4. It does sound like a pull in both directions (love/hate), and I will admit I would find it difficult too, and a little odd at first. I suppose you just have to go with the flow and see if you can find what works for you!

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    1. There are definitely more pluses than minuses, I can fully admit that! There are just days when I'm so jealous that she's staying home playing with my kids. And it's gotten better now, but the Sprout used to make a bee-line for her whenever we saw her on the weekends- it hurt my heart :( But now she's a lot more mommy-obsessed so I think, personally, some of my own issues have been resolved!

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  5. Wow! This was such an interesting post to read. I have a hard enough time trying to plan into our future about childcare and my choice is stay home, have family help, or daycare. :) I can see how this would be a choice that has both good and bad things about it.

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    1. Thanks for commenting! It feels very whiny to say I have days where I wish I didn't have a live-in nanny but sometimes, you just want to be ALONE with your family! She likes to hover when I make dinner- I'm not sure if she's trying to learn what I'm doing or she thinks I'm incapable of cooking dinner and watching the children, but some days I just want to say (and have said)- it's okay, I've got this! Haha!

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  6. I found this very interesting to read because my husband always wanted me to look into a nanny when our kids were younger. I never wanted to share my house with anyone, but it sure would have made many things so much easier!

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    1. The cleaning up part is WONDERFUL!! I haven't cleaned a toilet since I've moved overseas and having a live-in to do the dishes at the end of the night is such a relief! But it is really hard, as a mom, to know that she gets to spend all day with them. And sharing a house is difficult- especially when we can't find something and the Rugby Star is asking me where it is! Haha!

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