Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Help

I hesitate to talk about this. Mostly because people back home will roll their eyes. And people here will be, like, "shhh, don't talk about that."

We are blessed with a fabulous helper (seriously blessed and I am so grateful). Not only do I not have to have my two children come with me to every single appointment (Chase had a front row view of everything for three years - from doctors to dentists), but I can also let Mads sleep when she's tired (no wonder Chase gave up napping before she turned one). The other benefits include a clean house, hot food on the table (a big plus at breakfast and after a long day), and never having to do laundry (clean, ironed clothes magically appear in your closet).

So what do I do? I spend every moment I can with my kids. I don't have to put them in front of the TV because I need to clean my house or I'm having guests over, and that, I feel, is the biggest luxury of all.

But I also have to say that one pays in other ways. More is expected of wives here, because they have help. Granted, some wives get to enjoy a most enviable lifestyle. But there are unspoken rules - homes are always sparkling clean, clothes always pressed. Fresh cakes are always coming straight from the oven. Puts Martha Stewart to shame. It feels, at times, like I'm living in Stepford. There are silent pressures here, as there are everywhere, but it just feels like it has been turned-up a notch. There doesn't seem to be much room for error.

Husbands, meanwhile enjoy, what my friend calls "Man Town," because they've just hired someone to get them out of doing dishes (special thanks to my own, oh-so-loving husband who has jumped in to do dirty dishes whenever he sees them because he knows how much I dislike it), clean-up after work - even watching over their kids. This is not to say that husbands don't do anything, it just removes the stress about who will do what.

But I think the kids pay the most. At the end of the day, they have someone to spoon-feed them and wipe them at every turn, so they are not taught independence. They do not carry their own things. They don't make their own food or clean up after themselves. It's unreal, but yet expected.

And so I try every day to keep it real. To have the kids make their beds. To set the table. To clear the table. To pack their own bags. To clean up (PLEASE). To be gracious. And kind. And care for each other and others. And while a helper can help build these skills and instill these values, I must say no one does it better than mom and dad.