I Will Never Feel Guilty Again

Noemi starts working for us today. She’ll be managing every aspect of our home lives so we can get on with doing everything we need to do – hooray! It is very common in Asia to have live-in domestic help, but I do appreciate that it is a bit of a weird concept for many. Vick, our original helper, was going to come back and work for us again because she wasn’t enjoying life in the Philippines, but a few days before we flew to Singapore she emailed to tell me she was pregnant. While sad news for us, it is the most wonderful news for her because it really is a miracle. Vick deserves to be a mother more than anyone I know, and after taking care of other peoples’ kids for 18 years, we are so thrilled for her and she’ll continue to be in our lives, which is great.

But it left us at square one because Vick is a hard act to follow. She was an amazing addition to our home – happy, positive, hard working, loyal, a fantastic cook, cheeky, and she was amazing with the boys. Both of the boys went through long periods where they preferred her over me, but they always come back to Mumma, so it never bothered me.

While fantastic, it was the hardest thing adjusting to Vick in our lives, and I never really got comfortable with it. Every day I would do things that she “should” do and if she swore like me she probably would have said “would you just fuck off and let me do my job!” Instead she gently urged me to enjoy it and let her get on with her job. I tried really hard, but never embraced the opportunity for what it was.

When we arrived in Australia all anyone asked us was how are we coping without Vick? We coped fine. You do what you have to do and we’re both busy people, so the time in Australia was busy in different ways. As time went on, we realised that what was keeping us busy wasn’t making us happy, thus one of the reasons to return to Singapore. We have dreams we’re chasing and we won’t stop until we achieve them. We’ve recognised that this is what is important to us and this time will be very different for me. It has to be, I’ve got an empire to build.

So the search began in earnest when we landed, because it’s vital we have an extra set of hands. We’re not looking for someone to take care of the boys, we’re looking for someone to do everything else so we can do that AND work effectively. We found a lovely lady but her employers wouldn’t let her go. We waited for six weeks in the end, but they continued stuffing her around and we had to move on. Her employers are foreigners and have been horrible to her -more surprising because they are Christian and haven’t exactly demonstrated Christian values in how they’ve handled this situation. It makes me mad because there’s nothing I can do (without making her life worse) and most nights I had her on the phone in tears, powerless to change her life.

But if it’s not easy it’s not meant to be right? Although we will help her find a new job.

Then we found another lady who fit the bill – older, mature, strong personality, experienced – but as we were the first foreign employers she’d met, she wanted to meet some more families before making a decision – fair enough, but on we go.

And then last Sunday we met Noemi. She’s fantastic. Extremely mature, capable, a strong personality, and lots of experience. She has three older children at home in the Philippines so is very excited to have the boys in her life and we know she’ll be strong with them so they don’t run rings around her. That’s why a strong personality is an important requirement for us. A demure girl running around after the boys just wouldn’t work. They’ve got to learn to take care of themselves so they don’t turn into spoilt little shits.

So today is the day. No more washing, cooking, cleaning, etc…, however when you start out with a new “home manager” it’s always bloody awkward and challenging. But before we know it, she’ll work us out and make life easy. We are very relieved, because we’ve seriously had no help since the boys came along, other than what we’ve paid for. No one can do full time parent in solitude (with Steve travelling all the time) and keep their sanity, that’s why community is always the most important thing around families, but we’ve had none of that. It’s just the four of us – but then that’s our fault for moving so much.

Most people from countries without “maids” find it weird, often sad and to some it’s almost repulsive. I find the necessity of it sad. It breaks my heart that women have to leave their homes and families to earn money to make sure their kids can have a better life. Noemi has left three children behind with her husband and all of her money goes to making sure they get an education so they can have more opportunities than she had. In fact many countries rely on people doing this sort of work. In the Philippines 65 per cent of the national income is from nationals working overseas and sending their money home. That’s unbelievable isn’t it?

It’s a harsh reality in our world, but Noemi will have a great life with us. We will take excellent care of her, she will be part of our family, we will respect her and demand that everyone else does and, as often as we can, we’ll fly her home to see her family. That’s the way we do things and we hope she’s happy here. We know we’ve made an excellent choice and now Steve and I can go on a date and enjoy being with each other again. We’ve had two dates in the last 18 months – we’re definitely excited about that. Although I know Steve has other ideas with thigh boots involved…we’ll see about that!

But our boys remain first, as they always will, so wish us luck adjusting. We’ll have time on our hands for the first time in two years and probably won’t know what to do with it, but we’ll work it out. In the meantime I’ll probably fall into an exhausted heap, because for the first time in two years, I can relax a little bit.

Yours, without the bollocks

2 Responses

  1. Don't ever ever feel guilty for having a 'home manager' I only wish it was a possibility in Australia without it costing an absolute fortune. But I do have to say I would be lost without our cleaner something many of our friends don't have but really should. Hope all is wonderful and works out with Noemi. Also wonderful news about Vicki please give her our love.

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