29.9.07

How will Ma'am manage?


At the end of our third year in the Philippines, my husband and I broke the news to our maid (or helper as the more PC Americans insisted on calling staff) that we were moving to Norway. The first words out of her mouth were ‘But how will Ma’am manage?’ which of course I was wondering myself but would have preferred if my inability to cope with two young children and keeping a house running alone wasn’t so obvious. By the way, the second words out of her mouth were, ‘Can I have your fridge freezer when you go?’.

Well it was a great surprise when we arrived in Oslo that not only was I able to look after my own children and house, thank you very much, but I felt a very heavy burden – the burden of having staff at my beck and call whilst constantly worrying about their well-being and feeling guilty about their subservience – lift off my shoulders. Life was suddenly simpler if not a little messier.

But here I am almost three years, one child and a very large house later, and three winters the wiser, strongly considering getting somebody to help me with childcare or housework, or both. I want to do some work (besides cleaning, cooking, child-minding and chauffeuring), and there are some opportunities at the moment which might keep my career on some sort of track (as opposed to a lodged in a deep domestic rut) whilst also offering a smidgen of fulfillment. However I have no kindergarten place and private nurseries don’t exist here as they do in Ireland. Anyway, I’m not looking for full-time childcare; just a few hours here and there to let me to some work and perhaps do the school run with the girls whilst leaving baby boy at home with someone trustworthy (especially once the temperatures hit minus double digits). I guess what a really want is my mother and father living down the road on standby so I can have a few childfree hours a week. That would mean moving us all to Kilkenny which isn’t known for its oil and gas reserves and so isn’t a viable option.

The best solution seems to be an au pair. We have a spare apartment within the house so there’s plenty of space. Logically it makes sense. But I can’t help thinking back to the relief I felt of having my washing machine (if not my fridge freezer) all to myself when I first got here, of the release from worrying about another human being’s well-being (I’m incapable of distancing myself emotionally from someone under my roof).

Am I asking for trouble or is it really a great solution that offers advantages to both parties? With or without help this winter - how will Ma'am manage?

1 comment:

Mignon said...

Well said.