Really. I toy with the idea of getting one but I'm now starting to think I never shall. Just read Parul's story and shivered.
I have heard so many like that. Of the five year-old girl who was listless and whiny all day and how her parents discovered that the ayah had been draining away her blood to sell. My reaction to this was -- the needles!
Then there are the maids who've come and gone for Mighty Mountain (that's what this kid's name means.) All of them stole his stuff and his parents' stuff and things from house as well. This despite a very efficient grandmother, who they stay with.
And then I had my own brush with ayahs during my two months of bed-rest while pregnant (may the doctor rot in hell. Heard about the nightmare she put Anjita through, yesterday). They were not clean. I had to use a bed-pan. Imagine my horror when I found brown stains on the back of my nightie one day. Then I realised that she didn't always use soap while washing her hands after cleaning me. And then she picked up a bug and sneezed it all over me. So I, who had been told not to even laugh too hard, sneezed for ten days on end and had a nasty hacking cough for even longer.
The other three were no better and two of them may just have been worse.
I read about Rohini's maids and how well they look after Ayaan so I know it can be done. My cousins and I were all brought up by our ayahs up to a point, in fact. So much so that my mother didn't remember the more basic things about newborn care -- the howtos of sunning, coping with feeding problems, weaning etc. She'd had help all through and had forgotten the details since.
But I cannot trust another person with my baby. Giga, yes, but even her I caution and remind. She brought me up in part twenty years ago, but I need to insist on my way now and she accepts it (because she was much the same in her time). Barring her, Vicky and my mother I cannot think of another human being with whom I believe Rahul is safe. Oh they might let him fall and feed him stuff he oughtn't have but I know his care is their first concern and everything else comes way after that. A maid will not do this.
I have seen good maids, but how do I know I'll get one like them? What if she hits him? What if she locks him indoors and goes outside to chat with friends? What if she picks up the food dropped on the floor and feeds him that? What if she lets him wander around wet/soiled for hours on end because she isn't paying attention?
I could be a much better mother than I am, I know I have it in me. But even as I am, I know I'm giving my son a certain security, some insistence on learning manners and decency, neat and clean and comfortable clothes at all times and when I can, companionship. Yes, I know mothers do more than maids but I don't want him growing up with less than he already has.
It would have been great if I had found someone to assist me through the day, alternate between the housework and Rahul as I attended to whichever I thought needed me more. But I start work next week, there is no more time to train somebody and I'm just not ready to let a stranger in my house. So we'll order in more food if I can't handle all the cooking, and Giga will babysit more evenings so Vicky can get a break (I guess both she and the great-nephew will be happy about that) and I'll let the chores pile up for the weekend, if necessary. I've decided that my primary concerns now will be Rahul while I'm at home and work while I'm out. Everything else can work itself in around that.