I have always wondered how my friends abroad can juggle the demands of motherhood without domestic help. They say moms here in the Philippines are lucky because it’s cheap to hire a yaya/ nanny. While they scour dirty kitchen floors and sort laundry day in and day out, most of us have the luxury of time to go shopping with our girlfriends, get our nails done or simply have uninterrupted dates with our husbands. Well, for most of us at least. For the past six months, I have been juggling household chores and taking care of our 1- year old. Since we got back from our vacation in the States last October, we have relentlessly tried to find a replacement for our estranged yaya who “promised” she’ll be back. She never did. A friend of mine said, it is just like living abroad, to which I strongly begged to disagree. It is not by choice that we don’t have a yaya. It’s just that, we’re having difficulty finding a good one. Finding a trust-worthy, dependable and loyal household help is as rare as a real gentleman these days. Now I am starting to realize that my friends abroad are much luckier than I am. For one, day care does not come cheap. Second, doing household chores seem more taxing. Aside from the fact that it’s always dusty, the humid weather makes you feel like you are doing Bikram Yoga after just 15 minutes of sweeping the floor. I realized I had the choice to rant about these “inconveniences” or make the most out of our situation. God must have a good reason why He has allowed us not to find a replacement for our son’s yaya.
This new season in my life as a stay-at-home-mom made me realize a lot of things. One of them is a revelation of how selfish I have been. All my life I’ve focused on accomplishing things for myself – a promising career, travel, save money and buy what I want with my own money. It has always been me, me and me. But when most of your time is devoted to making sure the needs your family met, the last thing you think of is yourself. It has only been a few months, but I could see that our son seems to enjoy spending more quality time with me. Since it is just our toddler and myself during the day, things can get pretty monotonous. I add a little bit of creativity to make it interesting not just for him but for me as well. Even while I do chores, I engage with him so he can learn and have fun. While cooking, I give him a small saucepan and wooden spoon and he pretends to cook as well. While spraying Windex on the balcony glass doors, we play make faces or peek-a-boo. There was this one time I set up a picnic mat on our kitchen floor. I cooked up some cheese sticks and packed our snacks in a lunch box together with his toy camera and fisherman’s cap. We also tagged along his stuffed toys and pretend we have company. I also try to expose him to a variety of activities throughout the day, including reading. Fortunately for me, it was not a challenge to help him develop a liking for books. At barely a year and a half, he has a wider vocabulary with that of a 2 year old. You live him with a book and some music, and he can keep himself entertained for as long as an hour. Being able to do all these things give me a profound sense of fulfillment that I never experienced in drafting marketing strat plans or executing events. As to character building, I am realizing that taking care of your child will test and hone you in many ways – your patience, kindness, your creativity, judgment and most importantly, your ability to love unconditionally. Slowly, I started embracing the value of being a mother, a value that may not have monetary compensation, but has immeasurable lasting rewards.
There are still days when I wish we have household help, especially now that our toddler is getting more curious and active. I maybe physically exhausted, but happy and content. There are both plusses and minuses in having a helper, and I’m fortunate to be able say that the latter has more. In truth, I am torn whether to actively search for a helper. Maybe this explains why we still have not hired one until now. Our situation has given me so many things to be grateful for. The most important of which is how it has allowed me to depend more on God for everything – strength, wisdom and discernment. I am also thankful for having a supportive husband who helps me with the chores even though I know he’s tired after a long day’s work. This has been one form of our bonding together as a husband and wife. Our house may not be as clean and organized, but it is our haven and special place. And while we are still in search for that suitable yaya, I continue to cherish each single day as I labor this season.