dealing with household help

it was inevitable that we would get a household helper once the baby comes. i had a yaya until i was eight (who left only because she got married) and we had a helper til i was about twelve. beyond that, i pretty much took care of myself and mama did most of the stuff at home. by then i can whip up a simple meal for me and my brother. in college, i started doing my own laundy with the help of our trusty washing machine. my brother and i were brought up to be independent and we learned early on how to fend for ourselves. this worked out fine as we didn’t have to deal with others inside our home. we didn’t have to make pakisama as both of us can amuse ourselves with tv and the internet.

when mama and dad retired last year, and we were both living our lives away from their nest, we pestered them to get a helper so that they can start their much-deserved rest after working their asses off for most of their lives. it somehow became a battle of wills as they insisted that they didn’t help and can move around on their own, thank you very much. mama kept on arguing that it was hard to have other people around. mico on the other hand said it was better to have more people in the house in case they get sick or something. it made him feel better that there was someone else there looking after them. since november of last year, three have come and two have gone. problems with each person kept on cropping up. my mom treats them like family and i could say that they are more comfortable than most. they are given their own room, they eat the same food, they wake up at a reasonable hour, have only to clean the house (which wasn’t really that messy considering two retirees live there), do the laundry, cook meals, have siestas, etc. the first one gave us a surprise when she brought her 5-year old son with her. it wasn’t a big deal at the start but then he became a nuisance and the helper-mom began paying more attention (as expected) to her son than to the chores she should have been doing, and kept themselves shut in their room for most of the time. she also kept on complaining on getting backaches when doing the laundry, thus, she did a bad job of it. considering the humidity and temperature in the philippines, our clothes smelled like it never saw water, only laundry detergent mingled with sweat. the second one, which we were training to be my kid’s yaya had problems with hygiene. what the heck! do you have to remind people to take a bath every day? water was abundant, and the climate of the previous summer made me want to take showers almost five times a day. so how can i entrust my child to her? i mean, poor hygiene is really a mark of how you take care of yourself. how can you expect her to accord the same care to another person, let alone a kid who has no inkling of cleanliness? eventually, aside from hygiene issues, her work ethics slid and slid. when she requested to go to the province for a couple of weeks to attend to some family thing in the province, mama told her not to come back anymore.

now here comes yaya no. 3. i was actually desperately calling for help from relatives and friends for anybody they know needs a job as a household helper. i had given birth a month before and i feared that we wouldn’t find one in time for my going back to work. my mom was there but i took care of my little one and did everything myself with help from my husband. i was a little apprehensive about leaving her. and then there was the fact that we were only staying at my parents’ house for the duration of my maternity leave, and was set to move back to the house in rizal afterwards. so, in the third week of july came this 38-year old woman from some faraway town. she was a mother of 7. we made arrangements for her transportation and had given advance payment so that she can leave something for home.

it’s been three weeks since and i’ve been back at work for only 3 days. and now i’m calling and texting my mother ever few hours or so to complain on her various transgressions. oh god! i don’t know if i am asking too much of her being as she was but i really did think that somehow, even someone of her stature would have some sort of “civilized” behavior. this is not me being high and mighty. i am not matapobre, rather i thought that even if she came from the province and from a not well-off family, she would know how to carry herself decently. and raising 7 children i know is no feat. so why am i continuously being frustrated by her? i could go on and on about the many things she does everyday that seem to spark a fire in me prompting me to berate her. but i always, always try to rein in my anger and talk to her as patiently as i could, fearing for the safety of mischa once i am away at work. i know she could wreak havoc on her health, on her physical well-being as she could tamper with anything she could get her hands on. i find this a tad unfair since we come at the mercy of the helper under our own roof. but who wouldn’t lose patience if you keep on repeating and repeating yourself over and over so that she would understand. i know that this is only a job for her, but this is my life. we are trying to make her stay as comfortable as possible but of course worthy of the salary she is receiving. but how to teach someone manners? how not to open letters of whatnots that do not belong to you? how to knock at closed doors and not enter at will? one of our housemates caught her one time hubby and i were both at work, lying and savoring the feel of our bed. wtf! can you still teach an old dog new tricks? and that is aside from the seemingly minor blunders. i wouldn’t like to repeat myself over and over as i’ve said but i can’t help it if things affect your household and of course, the baby. like turning off lights after going outside rooms, turning off faucets when not in use (i didn’t think these need to be taught arrrggghhh!), using the electric steam sterilizer containing only a couple of bottles, watching tv nonstop when there are chores to be done, combining wet and dry laundry, gossiping with neighbors, not preparing breakfast knowing we were going to work because she slept late owing to the watching of television again, not washing the clothes of the baby well (stains all over). and the list goes on and on.

so what am i to do? i couldn’t bring baby to work. but i am constantly fearful as to what is happening at home. yaya is basically hopeless. she knows how to take care of a child, that i give to her. yet i also feel that she finds it foolish and unnecessary all the things we employ for mischa for she did not do these on her own children yet they survived. once hubby was livid because he saw the pacifier drop on the carpet and all she did was wipe it off a cloth and then put it back on baby’s mouth. shit.

i am just putting myself at the hands of God. please don’t let anything happen to mischa or i will never forgive myself.

yaya, anyone?

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