Welcome to my blog. I write about fitting in, sticking out, and missing the motherland as a serial foreigner.

If you want this choice position

Well, the day of "it's not beyond the realm of possibility that someday we could employ" a live-in housekeeper/nanny has arrived.  It crept up on us slowly and both Jeremy and I came to the realization that a nanny might be good for our family at around the same time, in the last month or two. Last November was when I wrote the above post, in which my feelings were mainly that nannies were great for other families, but not ours...yet. By the beginning of 2012, Jeremy and I sometimes talked about hiring a nanny, but it was always couched in "only ifs," like "only if she's a native Arabic speaker" (which we've come to realize is not very possible here), or "only if it's someone who we already know." So it remained very hypothetical.

During the spring semester, however, I realized that a nanny could really make our lives so much better. I know that sounds idealistic, but I think it's true, or at least potentially true. I was teaching two classes and taking two MA classes, all while trying to maintain some semblance of being a good wife and mom and household manager. I felt like superwoman, only not as capable and I failed a lot more, like my duties were cut out for a superwoman and she was not me. Unfortunately.

I took a hard look at all the things I was trying to do, and do well, all at once, and considered if any of the less important tasks could be loaded off my shoulders, to free up energy and mental resources and time for the more important roles. But who would take these responsibilities for me? I have a husband, of course, but he has his own heavy time commitments with his job. We have a houseboy come clean once a week, but I was still doing all the daily clean-ups and dishes and sweeping and tidying, and overseeing the girls' efforts at the same, even if I wasn't technically scrubbing toilets or mopping floors. And then there's laundry, which deserves its own category anywhere, but especially here with my Euro washer that takes 3 hours for a cycle and then hanging everything up to dry outside in a timely manner so it doesn't get musty, and then doing more ironing than I would if I were using a dryer since stuff wrinkles more when you hang it outside. I'm exhausted just thinking about last semester and how frustratingly inadequate I felt at at least one of my life roles at any given time.

(There was also the fact that we were often left scrambling for a babysitter for the girls. We are blessed to have some good neighbors to help in that area but sometimes we just couldn't make it work with me being here and Jeremy being there and the girls being carted all over the place in between. And heaven forbid one of the kids gets sick on a day when both Jeremy and I had to teach - who do you send your sick kid to at 7.30 in the morning? I still consider the "constant back-up babysitter" feature to be a peripheral bonus of having a live-in housekeeper, though, at least for our purposes.)

Anyway, can you tell that I decided that the housekeeping portion of the household manager role was what could be re-assigned to someone who was not me? Go ahead, judge me.

But first, imagine, if you will, being able to outsource all the cleaning, all the laundry, all the tidying, and some of the cooking prep (and all of the clean-up) to someone who lived in your house. Also, as a bonus, that person could be there at any time to take care of the kids when there's a gap between your schedule and your husband's schedule. I imagined it, and I wondered why we weren't taking advantage of the opportunity to hire such a person. It's an extra cost, of course, but it's partially subsidized since we live rent-free in a home that has maid's quarters built in to the floor plan. Also, the cost would be figuratively reduced since we would no longer be spending money on the weekly houseboy cleaning or any babysitting at all.

Ah, but deciding to do it and making it a reality are two different things. We've begun the process of selecting/hiring a nanny and it approaches the level of bureaucracy and confusion of obtaining a certificate of degree equivalency from the UAE. At this point, I understand that our "we are almost positively sure we want to hire a live-in housekeeper/nanny" plans could fall through, or be delayed, for about two dozen reasons. And there is much, much more I can (and probably will) say about the quirks of the process. Coming soon...

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At the bottom of my garden...