IT STARTED with a rant from a mommy in one of the mommy groups I belong to on FB. A mommy felt frustrated with her domestic help. For the entire day, some moms sporadically commented about their experiences and opinions. It was an interesting exchange. Some were advising to let go of the domestic help while others, perhaps with the intention of comforting the frustrated mommy, shared their own horror stories on domestic help.

There was a bit of exchange about domestic help inquiring if they have Wi-Fi. Another mom shared that she was shocked when she saw the neighbor’s domestic help talking with someone on Skype. Someone commented that domestic help nowadays spend a lot of time on their cellphones. And yet despite the general view that they are tech savvy, someone said something about the domestic help dying if they use their intelligence.

The thread was interesting in that it showed how greatly different we perceive the psychology of domestic help, how we treat and train them. One mom actually has a maid manual! I could imagine my mom hyperventilating and turning into a deadly dragon if I broach the idea of a maid manual to her. We recently got into an epic quarrel because I remarked that her home’s electricity expense abnormally increased and it may be due to too much watching TV by the domestic help. I was condemned for being mata pobre.

I have only hired a couple of domestic help, most of them as my daughter’s yaya when she was still small. But I have stopped hiring domestic help a couple of months after my K turned three. Looking back, there was a great difference between how I treated domestic help from the way my mom did. I refused to engage in talks about their love life and their life’s dramas in general. I marked them absent when they did not return on the day we agreed on after their weekend vacations. I was strict about following my instructions and routine chores.

My dad said that I retained my behavior of being a boss even when I was already a stay-at-home mom. He said I treated the domestic help the same way I used to treat staff --- courteously, justly, but very much detached. He thought it was funny that my domestic help have their leaves and 13th month pay, which was nice of me (according to my dad), but I never really gave attention to them, unless it was something work related. I would not care if they are sad or happy, as long as the baby’s things are in order. I would take it for granted that they have eaten with my mom’s domestic help. Their duty hours are usually only from 6:00 a.m to 6:00 p.m. with a lunch break right after lunch (usually taken between 11:30 a.m. and 12 noon) until about 2 p.m. They could do whatever they want off duty.

So when we cut our ties, when I declare independence from my domestic help or them from me, it was usually with no emotion. I accept whatever reason they say for quitting. And I never begged anyone to extend her stay. There is no real bond between us because I kept things at a professional level. I never really joked and laughed with them, like my mom usually does.

Today, I am independent of domestic help. There are times when I would wish someone would take over the cooking and cleaning, but that usually vanishes as soon as we dine in a nearby carenderia or restaurant and when my husband picks up a broom and starts sweeping the floor. Our daughter is already five and we are training her to do things on her own and help with some chores.

My mom could not live without hers and puts up with all their flaws. As senior citizens, my parents are dependent on their domestic help not just for their capacity to do the household chores, but for entertainment and company. They have achieved what my mom sees as a symbiotic relationship.

Anyway, the FB exchange ended with hopes that it could be sorted out soon. I guess in the end the question would be, could you live independently from domestic help? If not, then you will perpetually go through the hiring and firing process or do what my mom does – turn a blind eye on their flaws.

Cheers to being a home manager!


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