The Help: Before and After

We’re on Day 4 of having a live-in helper. Arrianne arrived late Wednesday night, and is part-nanny, part-maid. Mark, our driver, is on week 5 with the Crum household. Moms, how many of you have wondered if your job could be split into 2 full-time jobs? The answer is yes. My job was been split into 3 full-time jobs. And I still stay busy. I am already wondering, How did I used to do this on my own, and homeschool too? Of course, part of the answer is that I used to have one less baby. And I used to have 2/3 less house to clean. And I used to use a dryer and air-conditioning. And I used to have a dishwasher. I used to have my very own car and drive it myself, like a big girl.
Our first five and a half weeks, everyone I met asked, “Have you found help?” Early on, our landlady’s assistant came to turn our water heater on. She asked, “Have you found help?” Ben answered, “Not yet. We’re not sure if we’re looking for full-time or part-time help.” The lady looked at Knox and Clementine, then Daniel and Zion, then slowly around the room, then finally at me. And then she started to laugh.
When Mark started working for us, every time he saw me for the first few days, he would say, “I am going to find you help.” You can well imagine what a shot in the arm this was for my healthy ego.
Just last week, Daniel was supervising Knox at a school event—the Parent’s Night Luau. A lady observing them asked Daniel, “Isn’t his yaya (nanny) coming?” Daniel answered, “No, we don’t have one.” The lady asked, incredulously, “Then who takes care of him?”
Every morning I take Knox and Clementine for their walk, with Clementine strapped to my front and Knox in a stroller. For the first couple weeks I would see pity in the eyes of the many yayas, maids and housekeepers we greeted along the way. I would walk past the Clubhouse pavilion next to the pool and see a handful of young moms participating in a yoga class.
Here are some of the things that happen when I don’t have help:
-The neighbors ring the doorbell to return Knox, who has let himself out and walked resolutely up the street, holding his shoes and Ben’s swim goggles.
-As I’m enjoying a calm moment and finishing my last sip of coffee, I hear a voice from outside yelling, “Don’t jump! Don’t jump, baby!” I turn to see Knox, having opened the window screen, leaning from his waist up out the front window (first story, don’t worry).
-While Knox is playing contentedly I run out to hang a few items on the clothesline, only to return and find him holding a ballpoint pen, looking guilty. I take the pen, and quickly scan the room to see which article of furniture he has scribbled on. I see no damage and am just breathing a sigh of relief when I glance down at Clementine’s face.
-Knox comes in from the patio to hand me the remains of a cigarette butt. He grins, and points at his tongue which is covered in pulpy tobacco. He swallows, then starts pestering me for a drink of my coffee.
-I make the mistake of letting Knox ride his bike on our morning walk. Hey, this will be nice, I naively think. If Knox rides, then Clementine can go in the stroller and I won’t have to carry anyone. No sooner have we reached the opposite corner of the neighborhood than Knox fills his diaper, refuses to sit back down on his bike (I can hardly blame him), and I end up carrying Knox and the bike while pushing the stroller back to the house. Right as we round the corner near the pool a neighbor excuses herself from the yoga class to come say hello. “We have an exercise class most mornings at 7:30 if you’d like to join us.” “Yes, yes I know, thank you,” I say, balancing stinky Knox and the bike on one arm while my other hand rests on the stroller. “Have you found help yet?” she asks.
-Mark sees me hanging out the laundry and kindly offers to help. I thank him but refuse, so he stands there watching me, offering tips on cleaning and hanging laundry. He probably thinks I’ve never had to do my own laundry before, I realize. As I’m finishing up, he says, “You will not be so tired when you have help.”
-I spend 10 minutes looking for the broom, and finally find it in its home, next to the refrigerator, right where I left it.
-At the end of each day the soles of our feet are black. From walking around inside.
A black footprint on the back of our couch. It isn't mine. Yes, this image is sideways, and help or none, I have neither the time nor the energy to fix it.
A black footprint on the back of our couch. It isn’t mine. Yes, this image is sideways, and help or none, I have neither the time nor the energy to fix it.
-Ben nudges me awake on the couch at 9:15pm and tells me to go to bed.
And here are some of the things that happen when I do have help:
-The bathrooms are clean. The whole house, in fact, is clean.
-Muriatic acid was put on my grocery list. I don’t even know what muriatic acid is.
-Ben asks me for the broom and I can’t find it because, wait for it, I wasn’t the last one to use it. All of my cleaning supplies have been confiscated and assigned to new homes.
-I take a shower. Every day.
-I even do my hair. Sometimes.
Ben and I finished putting the kids to bed and went for a walk. By ourselves. Without risking a visit from CPS.
-On Friday night we watched a movie, and stayed awake for the entire thing. We stayed up way past 11. Almost 11:30.
-On Monday morning, I wrote a blog post.
We are very thankful for Arrianne and Mark and for their service to us. I hope and pray that we are a blessing to them this coming year, too.
P.S. While I was finishing this post, unbeknownst to me, Knox had gotten himself up from a nap and was playing in the toilet. If only the last person to use that bathroom had flushed.

7 thoughts on “The Help: Before and After

  1. I loved our help. Rukmina was wonderful and became a part of the family. I have often told Michael that the thing missing in our lives is help. Also it is part of the economical structure. Part of why people keep asking is you have the means to employ someone and therefore it is seen almost as an economic responsibility.

    1. Yes, I’ve realized that too, about the economics of it. Both our helpers came from jobs with families who had just moved away.

      1. Yah, it also is just completely different. Getting to the market and shopping etc. or even just driving somewhere. I remember one time our driver and I went down the same road ten times trying to find a house. Lets just say the numbers didn’t make sense LOL

  2. Oh man. I don’t know if this post was more encouraging, knowing that Hudson is not the only one who does stuff like this, or discouraging, knowing that its not going to end any time soon…

    1. Fwiw, despite the term “terrible two’s,” we find it gets easier around 2. The ones are much more difficult with our boys–all the coordination and will-power with none of the necessary common sense or self-control to accompany it.

  3. Oooo yeah – air pollution and no central air conditioning is an adjustment. I remember my first few months living in Morocco. On a nice Saturday morning, I’d open up the windows and mop the living room tile … and within three hours walk across it only to see faint footprints in the reflected light. The black dust had already started to settle. Yuck.

    Love the picture of Clementine. She looks so serene with her ‘make up’. :-)

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