Wednesday, March 07, 2012

My Secret

Sometimes people say they don't know how I get as much done as I do. Part of it is just how I'm wired - God made me high energy and high capacity. I'm glad He did because I like that about me. Part of it is that I'm also wired to want to look good. Of that part I'm not such a fan, but I'm learning to let go.

But the biggest part of it is that I don't do half of what it looks like I do and that's the truth. I don't do most of my own grocery shopping. I don't do laundry. I don't dust or sweep or mop my floors. I certainly don't get around to washing my windows or cleaning out my cupboards. And yet my house is in a near constant state of order and I am free to go about my day, all because of a lovely young woman named Xiao Xue (those of you unfamiliar with Mandarin pronunciation, I encourage you not to attempt pronouncing her name. You will be wrong).

This is one of the great blessings of living in a developing country - house help is relatively inexpensive and culturally normal. Women will come and clean, cook, and watch your children, for a few dollars an hour. It doesn't set us apart to have someone helping us - in fact, when our kids were younger and I was outside with them alone, people would ask me often why I was watching my children myself, instead of having a helper do it for me. I don't need someone to watch my kids anymore, but I do need someone to clean because the dust in this city is phenomenal, and someone to grocery shop because somehow everything like that takes twice as long here. Why is that?

Xiao Xue came to me "on loan" from some friends who were out of the country for 6 months. She came every weekday morning for 4 hours. Within two weeks, I was secretly hoping my friends would never come back so I could keep Xiao Xue. Unfortunately, about a month in, her husband was in a terrible car accident and almost died. For the next 5 months she had to wait on him constantly as he endured several surgeries. When you have a family member in the hospital here, you are expected to take care of them yourself, so it was a full time job for her. I squeaked by with someone two afternoons a week who didn't work nearly as quickly as her.

By the time Xiao Xue could work again, my friend was back. To our surprise, we found that Xiao Xue was reluctant to work for her because she lived further away. She wanted to work for us instead! Since then, she comes cheerfully into our house every morning between 9 and 9:30 and stays until 1 or 1:30. She and I will chat occasionally. I'll share funny stories of things that have been happening in the house and we laugh together. She'll comment on how she sees the kids growing and learning. Just now I walked into the kitchen and found all my baking supplies on the counter because she was taking the initiative to clean out that cabinet. I would probably never have done that on my own. I hope she never leaves us because I don't know what I would do without her (well, yes I do. I would either clean a lot and do nothing else or have a really messy house. And I would not blog).

So there have you have it. My secret is out. I'm not anywhere near a super mom. I'm just a mom with a wonderful helper.

1 comment:

Amy :) said...

Wow. That is amazing! I'm sure if we lived there, I'd take full advantage of the inexpensive help available!

Trying not to be jealous... :)