Mommy mood swings series 6: what every woman wants.
An eye lash had fallen on my cheek, and my friend asked me to make a wish. As I put the fallen eye lash on the back of my hand, closed my eyes and blew on the lash, I fervently wished my deepest desires came true.
“What did you wish for?” asked the friend.
“I asked for a maid.”
‘A male ? ‘he replied.’ As in a baby boy?’
“no no. I don’t have any such desires. As long as my child is healthy , happy and well adjusted , I don’t have any gender preference. MAID! I want a maid, someone who will look after my child when I go to work, an Au pair, a nanny, someone!”
You know that saying, behind every successful man there is a woman, well behind every successful woman there is a house help.
When we finally revealed to our friends about the impending bundle of joy, most began with' awww, wow congrats,' to immediately following it up with a "you must start searching for someone to help you. It was such a universal reaction that even the experienced dads started to extol on the virtues of having a nanny to my husband. The true sign that we are now in the middle ages is when converstaion around the bar, with two drinks down still revolves around how convenient it is for the couple to get away for a dinner date, if they have a round the clock help at home. true some of them had their parents to help, but they were getting old, and it was too much to expect of them, especially when they themselves were joining in the party celebrations.
Bringing up kids can be a tough job and here is another saying “it takes a village to bring up a child.”
I am being fair here, I don’t expect a village, I don’t even expect a large extended family, I don’t expect my parents (God knows they’ve been through enough bringing my brother and me up) to help bring my kid up, all I am asking for is another pair of hands, and eyes and well… another person.
I know a lot of you are rolling your eyes and saying :”typical spolit girl, can’t handle… "or ”she is such a !@@#@ “or “ She is so self centered and selfish she wants to go back to her life while her kid is brought up by someone else.” If you fall in any of these categories and I know there are many out there, who have been sending me hate mail past few months, well this is your time to STOP reading this post.
I know a lot of women in UK and USA are managing without any house help, also so many mom’s gave up their careers to bring up their kids, and I salute you and love you for it.
So anyway, here is my ode to all the women and men who helped bring me up, and helped my mom get a medical degree in paediatrics, let her work, so that she could help other babies and kids in need too.
The first 6 months of my life my mom pretty much did it all by herself. Then we had Panchali didi, a lady with one glass eye, plenty of patience, and a hardy village woman’s stamina. She was with us till the time I turned 3 years, and so memories of her are a bit foggy, but I clearly remember she helped birth a cow in our back yard. Maybe I saw it in our home videos, but she pulled the baby calf right out of the mummy cow in Barrackpore. Ghorpuri, Dehuroad and Barrackpore, those were the places she came with us.
Then I believe we had no one for a good 2 years or so. day care, and friendly neighbours and a stay at home mom, filled our days.
That’s when my mom decided to get her self an MD apart from her basic MBBS. Along came a host of care takers, who did not meet my mothers standards.
Until we had a lady my brother and I called Amma. Amma was an old lady who didn't know how to see time. She had an alarm to wake us up at 6 in the morning for school, and I remember she once woke us up at 4 in the morning, decided it was 6 and we were forced in to our uniforms by 6! Mom was on night duty, and when she found out, well you know how moms take the whole guilt, blame and all that stuff on themselves. I think my father was away somewhere in jammu Kashmir or some such place.
Now for everything that the ARMY has been blamed for, you cannot deny that they do care for their personnel. I know everyone is up in arms about the OROP one rank one pay , but I say that no amount of money can ever compensate for one of the greatest privileges that the armed forces has given it’s armed personnel, attached servants quarters to every home. Ask any woman out there and they will tell you, a guaranteed house help no matter where you go is more than any price you can attach to it.
there's a reason the title reads what every woman wants, be it a stay at home mom, or a work from home mom, or a work out of home mom, a house help is on everyones wish list. (even if some of them are too posh to own up to it.)
We even had what we call a ‘batman’ in the army lingo. A man who helps my father around the house. I once made our batman do my homework while I went to play. I was 6, and no I didn't get away with it.
The “attached servants quarters” came with some wonderful people attached to it.
For example Kanta didi, a feisty woman with a squint. She spoke English like the best of them, even had an accent. She was with us for about three years give or take. She came for many years after that bearing Diwali sweets. No one makes karanjis like her, till date. I remember cutting her daughters hair once, I wanted to be a beautician back then.
Then we had Latifa didi, a young girl given to liking the bling and according to mom had once taken some money too. But I remember her trying to keep pace with my brother , then a gangling boy in the 7th or 8th standard. He used to constantly lock her in a room or throw water on her; a regular Dennis the menace.
We even had a gardener one time, Jeet bhaiya, and a farm filled with carrots and onions, and potatoes and peas. Also a flower garden.
If you are wondering how, well refer back to the above para on armed forces. Really, I feel they should have it in the recruitment advertisements “The armed forces, we not only make a gentleman out of your boy, but also provide attached servants quarters!!” People will throng to get in, believe me.
As I entered the 10 th standard we moved out of our privileged life and moved into civilian life. But by then we didn't need an Au pair. We didn't need someone looking over our shoulder while mom was away. We could kick back and watch FRIENDs, whose line is it anyway, and Baywatch to our hearts content. Hey we were grown ups we didn't need a nanny!!!
So there, I think we had about 8 other women (and men) who helped bring us up. Each one of them followed the strict protocol of no TV after school, no play till homework was finished, and managed to pack our tiffins with mom’s secret pizza recipe, and our Sunday special of chicken biryani. All of them had mastered the art of Bengali cooking and managing to find our school socks and tie minutes before the school bus arrived.
I would like to thank all of them.
Apart from reminiscing about my own childhood, I am also sending out my own desire for someone to help me through the years of tiffin packing and seeing that the kid returns safely from school, or just watch over them while I go to work. Like the law of attraction in that super famous book the secret, I am sending out my intentions.
Not that I am a great believer in the Secret or the eye lash wishing or anything, but whatever works people!