Thursday, February 28, 2008

Maidless and Fancy-Free

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.


Kodi's Mom said...

congrats on starting work soon! and thats pretty much the way it is around here too - all the other chores find a way to get done. eventually.
completely with you on the maid/nanny concerns.

dipali said...

That sounds eminently sensible. I also always managed with a part time help, and was quite happy with it, though often sleep deprived. Yes, the stories are absolutely terrifying.

Mona said...

yup, makes sense. hope everything works out for you, babe.
personally, if it ever comes to it that my mom can't watch Hana while i'm at work, i'd quit. without a second thought. no matter what the consequences. but i'm just anal and paranoid.

Moppet's Mom said...

In the circumstances, I think you've chosen the best option. That being said, and all horror stories aside, finding a maid with references that can be checked is hard, but not impossible.

Parul said...

All the very best, Sue, starting work and being all the different things you describe in the About Me column!

dipti said...

Good luck with the new job and hope the maid issues work out ok. Like someone said, your best bet would be to find someone with references you can trust. Have you tried advertising in the classifieds? Maybe one ad in english and a couple in the regional papers? Have been a lurker so far. commenting for the first time I think..Nice blog!

Rohini said...

One of those posts that brings my 'this couldn't possibly happen to me' blinkers... :)

But like Moppet's Mom said - you just have to be really careful who you hire and constantly check on them. I am often surprised by how lax most people are about the people they let into their homes, especially to take care of their kids...

Rohini said...

Oh you are my top desert island blog buddy too :)

Itchingtowrite said...

with very maid i got, i wanted to ensure she is not too huge to physically dominate my MIL.. that s anothr problem, hurting the caregiver and then hurting the child

Just Like That said...

Hmmm.. I still haven't settled on a maid to look after Sonny boy. tho' I'm going mad with all the combined pressures. But better to be mad than sorry.
BTW, You're going to start working again... ALL the best. and may you cope beautifully with juggling all the hats..:-)

Grafxgurl said...

my mother never let me out of her sight. and that was it.

she had heard too many horror stories even in her day and im thankful i had my grandma at least to help.

youre being seriously sensible and doing the right thing.. in this day and age, a little child is too precious to let someone else take over...and to be honest.. thats a mother's job, no maid will love the child like a mother can.... lol look at me talking!! and i havent even had a kid yet!! i just know that no matter what im upto.. im gonna drop everything and see to it that my child isnt in the arms of some stranger all day long.. i LOVE you for this post!! did i tell you i love you?. yes i love you. ok . going now!!

The Marauder's Map said...

I had three live-in Bengali maids the whole of last year and they all gave me nightmares in different ways, even though I'm at home all the time. It was just so difficult to manage them, with their tantrums and ego hassles and shrewdness. Now I've started with local part-timers and its so much more peaceful, though they speak only Tamil and our communication is patchy at best. Still, the peace, oh!

Sue said...

Kodi's Mom -- Really? I'm sure you aren't as lazy about housework as I can be. But tell me you are and give me hope!

Dipali -- Yes, and there is the bit about sharing The Bhablet's love with another care-giver. :) I don't mind V or Giga or my parents but I'm jealous thereonwards. Sheesh. That doesn't sound sensible now.

Mona -- Well, I did quit. I stopped my career before it ever really took off and spent two vital years at home, not even really freelancing. I guess I'm also anal and paranoid, huh?

Moppet's Mom -- I know, friends have good maids, but I don't trust my own luck in this dept. any more.

Parul -- Thanks, buddy. I'm focusing on mother, wife and Call Cutta person for the next nine months, and in that order. Everything else will have to adjust itself into this system.

Dipti -- I asked around in my own network but gave up because 1. I cannot bring myself to hand over something so important to another person yet. Maybe, if it's all too much for me some months on, I will, but not just yet; and 2. I would have to relinquish a lot of privacy. We live in a small flat and V works partly from home, so that is a big deal.

Rohini -- I think it works for you because you are careful to keep your maids aware of your constant supervision. Here I'm quite used to seeing servants like MM's cook and ayah who tease the kids; they get away with it because the parents don't realise it's a big deal. I don't think a kid should be wrapped in cottonwool, but security is so important in these early years.

Itchy -- Oh yes, that's very important too. Also you don't want someone who bitches and gossips and creates trouble between you and MIL.

JLT -- Thanks. I've to work out a schedule and stick to it. More importantly, V will have to do so as well!

TheBagchi -- :) Bengali maid have a bad reputation in all parts of India, in my experience. I have also seen why they have that reputation!

BTW, how come your maids speak Tamil and not Kannada or Telugu?

Kodi's Mom said...

Sue honey: I am not lazy abt housework? You just earned yourself an invitation to visit us in Chicago to see it all in action! doesn't your best friend live around here too?

D said...

I was out with my friends last night and discussing babies as usual (since all of them are new mums!). That's when one of them told me her maid had been feeding her new born cow's milk diluted with tap water! It was horrifying! That's when I remembered reading about your post and really related to it.

Sue said...

Kodi's Mom -- Done. If ever I have that kind of money and come to your part of the world, you can have the entertaining of me! :)

D -- See? If you have to run after a maid and supervise every little thing they do, there's not much point in keeping the bloody woman because you'll still be exhausted.

the mad momma said...

let me see - one maid burnt him. another one would yank him and now that arm pops out under the least pressure, another left him sitting with a mouth full of blood and i could hear him crying till the bottom of the stairs, one was found in the guard room minus her pajama (she never did get back the pajama i think), another had TB... one was pregnant. i could remember the rest if i tried but it gives me nightmares. i'll stay home rather than meet anymore thank you. all the best and so so so glad you've found a way around it.

Sue said...

MM -- Oh lord. There's nothing much to say to your list, is there? Suddenly your Nepali ayah seems more acceptable than before.