"Hi. My name is GypsyInTheMe, and I have a maid."
A lovely, friendly, smiling, loving, caring live-in maid who wakes up happy and hums old Air Supply tunes as she waltzes around the kitchen with her broom in the early morning hours. She's been with us for four years, she's family to us, our daughter loves her to bits, and she helps us keep our life organized as we rush out the door to work and try to keep ahead of day-to-day demands.
I've been trying for weeks now to finish this post ... but the fact is I block every time. I've got "blog block" I guess. I'm sure I didn't come up with that term; but I'm fairly new to blogging, so I find it rather catchy! "I've been hit with blog block." There's a certain ring to it.
I'm trying to overcome the block, but the subject of help in the ME (Middle East) is just so huge. I don't know how to broach the subject and give it the respect it deserves, while maintaining the levity of the post as I first conceived it.
Every time I want to talk about the challenges and hilarity of our lives as it relates to sharing a house and home with an 'employee', I am overcome with overwhelming guilt.
This likely relates to my opening statement, and the fact that this Canadian girl, for whom the very concept of hired help was so foreign/taboo, has become addicted to the help.
"Hi, my name is GypsyInTheMe, and I am an addict."
So much so that, ironically, the one thing I congratulate myself most on when I am on vacation and renting a flat or a house is the rediscovery of cleaning products, appliances and techniques. For a bit, I rediscover the help in me, I am re-immersed in the monotony and satisfaction of putting in a load of laundry, of loudly flapping freshly-laundered sheets onto the bed, of sweeping up the bread crumbs off the kitchen floor.
Many days in the ME, I can also carry on like this, denying my addiction. I wash a few dishes, cook dinner, organize the catch-all drawer in the kitchen. I tell myself that I have it all under control. Then the kitchen door opens, and in waltzes our maid, all smiles and sunshine, saying "Please Madam, let me be the one to clean, you are so tired."
And the black cloud descends upon me, and for a moment I stand defense in front of "MY" pile of dirty dishes, thinking "These are mine. I dirtied them, and I hate cleaning them, but I'll do so at my own slow pace, because they are 'MINE', thank you very much!"
But even as the thoughts race through my head, I am already retreating, surrendering the dishcloth, seething at my weakness, my dependance. I am torn between my vision of running an effective household all on my own and my desire to hand it all over to someone else to deal with.
My maid momentarily takes away the pain. The pain of facing a sink of dirty dishes, the pain of losing an entire afternoon ironing, the pain of cleaning a soiled toilet. More and more, I find myself turning to her, relying on her, depending on her. 'Me', self-proclaimed organizational queen, asking her if she's seen my husband's reading glasses, does she remember where we stored the camping tent, where she put the turkey baster when she last cleaned the cutlery drawers. And then, like every addict after a fix, I feel a degree of shame, of remorse, of guilt.
I wish I could erase the dichotomy, the push and pull, the feeling of failure at not having managed my job, the household, the chores, the homework, the cooking, the extracurricular activities single-handedly. I wish I could perceive the beauty in seeing yesterday's dirty clothes magically re-appear cleaned and pressed in my shrank today. I wish that sight didn't awaken in me feelings of powerlessness.
I wish I didn't always feel like I'm failing me when I reach for the easy cleaning fix. But there's no way around it.
Bless our maid. She is amazing. If I could only rid myself of the shame of relying on her, I wouldn't have to refer to myself as a Maidaholic. And I could fully enjoy the gift.
"My name is GypsyInTheMe, and I am addicted to Help in the ME."