Sunday, October 23, 2005

Grace

is my Helper. She is the reason that I am able to keep it together – the kids, the LG “life is good” home life, the career and the marriage.

In two months, Grace will be taking the plane off to the Philippines. For two years, she has helped my family. Its time she went back to her own family to enjoy the Christmas break. She’ll see her beau who has waited 700 days for her return and her elderly mother who will roast a pig to celebrate her return.

When Grace goes back for Christmas, I’ll be going it solo - caring for Shane and Alix by myself for 16 days.

The moment of truth will dawn as work evaporates away (I go on leave) and I am left at home fending for the two of them by myself.

Of course, this isn’t the most difficult thing. Lots of women manage this. My sis who is the US takes care of her 2 boys by herself. She keeps them clean, keeps the 3,500 sq ft house clean and even cooks meals too. All this while her husband works long hours.

My other friend, Vanny also manages this. She’s the full time carer for her 2 girls, aged 3 years and 19 months. “Its tough”, she tells me. Oh yeah, it must be. What happens when you fall sick? Who stands in for you? How d’you get the ironing and cooking done? When d’you get time to bathe, eat and shit?

Before Grace, it was a big world of difference. In the first year of Shane’s life we had NO HELP. We were waiting for renovations to be completed to our house and packed into our holding abode – a 550 sq ft studio which was packed full of furniture. Back then, we spent most of our time out of the house anyway. Along this way, Shane was conceived, the renovations took much longer and we started to angst over the bad timing of all of this. The first trimester soon became 6 months of pregnancy. I couldn’t bend over, let alone clear the dustballs which settled around the legs of the furniture and the corners of the living room.

After Shane was born, I can't even begin to tell you about the impracticality of our living arrangement. A lot of it I file away in the humour section of my brain. A few things remain lucid. In our studio, there was only one sink. It was used for everything. Washing our dishes and pots, brushing our teeth, soaking personal items of laundry etc. I had so little faith in the cleanliness of that sink, I avoided washing baby bottles in it and nursed Shane for an extended period because it was the most sanitary thing to do. Shane crawled mostly on our bed because I couldn’t let him on the floor. Laundry was done at midnight – when the washing cycle ended, I would inadvertently be awake to load the wash into the dryer because of the night feeds which also kept me up.

Sure, one can certainly do without a helper. Quite maddeningly you can.

At that time, I had a part time Sri Lankan lady, Aida who came in on Sundays. For two hours, she pressed Gary and my work shirts. I paid her 10 dollars an hour but she gave us infinitely more than that in value. She kept us looking decent with the well pressed work shirts. She would carry Shane and tell us he looked very healthy and happy. Against the squalor and mayhem which was my home, She even encouraged us to have one more.

When Shane was 13 months, Grace arrived. She was employed to assist my dad but the impact she had on my life was TREMENDOUS. From the first time she held Shane so that I could eat my dinner without balancing a baby on my lap, each successive improvement in the quality of my life came like a divine outpouring from the heavens:

- Long undisturbed showers
- Laughing again, watching a sitcom
- Gary and I watching a movie
- Running to the mall for a few hours
- Putting my feet up after a work day and really, being happy to be home

We couldn't contemplate having a second child. But since Grace was on a two year working contract, a divine window had opened – the impossibility which was Alix now became a possibility.

+++++++

As I book the plane ticket for Grace’s return to Manila this Christmas, I am bracing myself for what is going to be a very interesting time. In my fantasy, I come out even stronger with abilities I never even knew. More likely, I will come out of this with rumpled clothes, hair standing, a very dirty house and more thankful for the forces which combine to bring me grace, grace to see it through.

2 Comments:

Anonymous ivn said...

Ouch. Just saw the post. Let's postpone lunch until you can make it.

2:06 AM  
Blogger carrie said...

Ivn: Anytime before christmas,I'm fine for lunch!

8:24 PM  

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