I was talking to my mother in law today and she thought that having two live in nannies and a full time live out maid was excessive for our household and I had to agree with her!
Then why don’t I just fire some of them or shuffle things things around so that I have less staff? I told her it’s definitely something that I’ve been striving to do, especially in the new year when I move back but it’s not an easy decision for me.
As silly as it sounds, I feel completely stuck. It’s hard to explain and comprehend, even to myself, but since talking to my mother in law, I came to the realization that I have lost complete confidence in myself.
After having household help and nannies for so long, I think I’ve lost faith in my ability to take care of my family! The whole idea of this seems absurd, especially for me because I actually like to be very hands on with my kids, I love to cook and I actually don’t mind housework! But how did it come to this?
Recently I wrote about how to balance time with your children and how I felt disconnected to my kids if I didn’t do particular things with them (like bathing them). Well, over time, I think I’ve become utterly disconnected to myself. I think having someone else take care of my house and my family has interfered with my role and in some sense, it has taken away my whole being.
I know it sounds crazy! Household help is suppose to liberate me, not debilitate me!
So how did it get to this? Well, firstly, the past year has been a bit tough. After my initial first year of arriving in Jakarta, of which I call ‘The Honeymoon’ period, things were great and I was very eager and enthusiastic about my new city.
Then over time, my bubble burst and things unraveled like they usually do in Jakarta. I fell pregnant with my third child and had very bad morning sickness that lasted most of the pregnancy. Then I fell ill with Typhoid while on a family vacation in Bali and was left stranded there alone for one week (because of my low hemoglobin level and was due to unable to fly home) and had to be away from family. This was very challenging because I had two kids under the age of two to worry about and no family who lived nearby to help.
On top of that, as you know, I didn’t get a proper diagnosis for two months, so the run around Jakarta seeing medical professionals was very emotionally and physically tolling. Amongst all of this, I had my long term nanny quit on me, with several other replacement nannies not working out. I was also planning on leaving my children behind to give birth in Singapore, due to the high risk pregnancy.
It was all to much for me. So when things settled down and I got my household help in place again, I had to heavily rely on them to take over so that I could recouperate from my ordeal. And this is when I think I became complacent.
The thing with having help available for me, is that it makes me lazy. I simply can’t help it. It’s easy to walk away from my screaming toddlers when I know that my nanny can handle the situation better than me and it’s my presence that is making my kids act up. It’s easy to walk away when I’m getting ready to bath my kids, only to find that my nanny has already started doing it (even though I told her not to! Sigh.) And it’s easy to stay out a little later and not go home early to cook dinner when I know that my maid can just easily cook it for me. I was basically slowly getting replaced by my staff and I stared to feel useless.
Over time, I found myself having no purpose or role in my house. It’s sad and it’s wrong. I have tried to explain this to my husband but he thinks it’s silly to live in Jakarta where household help is available and not take advantage of it! His solution is simply ask my nanny not to help and stay in her room, but as I’ve recently written, my nannies don’t really know how to ‘back off!’
He didn’t understand my inadequacy and thought that the household staff situation was ideal. He thought that I was crazy! I was basically complaining about staff that were too efficient and too good at their jobs! It was a compliment on me and my management skills that my staff worked so well to the point that I could be replaced by them! He thought that, if it’s not broken, then don’t fix it! But it is broken. And I’m broken. And although I knew it, it took me leaving Jakarta and visiting home to realize it.
So now I’m here in Australia on my own. Granted I am staying with my inlaws, but I’m running the show with my kids and it’s all on me. From 5am in the morning, the VERY LONG days, to all night feeds (my 11 month old is still feeding from me every 2-3 hours!) Its all me baby! And you know what? I’m coping. In fact, I’m excelling in it. Yes it’s tiring but not as tiring as I thought it would be.
I’m loving our time together and it’s sad but I feel like I’m started to get to know my own children again. I feel deeply connected to them and to myself. I feel empowered and I’m so grateful for this time on my own with my children, without any interferences. What will I do when we return to Jakarta? That’s what I need to figure out, but things will definitely change for the better.