When I was pregnant with Dash, I met up with a business associate who is also a mother.
She asked me, "So are you going to get a maid?" She was referring to after Dash is born.
"No," I replied.
She raised her eyebrows in surprise. "Why not?? You're gonna need one."
"Nah," I said dismissively. "I think I'll be ok."
In my heart I thought about her... "Geez woman, I'm gonna NEED a maid?? Do you have any idea how spoilt rotten you sound? I work from home and have so much free time. One adult and one baby - how hard can it be??? Ridiculous, I won't need a maid and I don't want one."
Fast forward a few months... That one sentence from that business associate turned out to be the most astute advice I've received from experienced mothers.
Motherhood is TOUGH. It is, in fact, the toughest thing I've ever had to do in my life. I cannot believe people talk about how painful childbirth or recovering from a C section is. THAT PART IS EASY PEASY.
The hard part comes afterwards. Torture isn't momentary physical pain. Torture is SLOW.
Torture is sleep deprivation over MONTHS. You think you can repay your sleep debt tomorrow? No you can't, you can't sleep when baby isn't asleep. Torture is not knowing why your little bundle of joy isn't a bundle of joy but is bawling his heart out, turning purple, and nothing you do is helping. Torture is his first fever.
It's hard to explain how tough Motherhood is. It is especially difficult for me because I was breastfeeding but Dash doesn't want to latch, so I exclusively pump out the milk for him - every 4 hours round the clock for the first few months.
A lot of it is also mental - fighting postnatal blues, and the fact that you can never feel relaxed because you are the main caretaker of such a fragile little being that can keel over and die any moment, even in his sleep wtf. Curse you SIDS! It is also extremely mentally distressing to be thrown into something completely new and be expected to do problem solving everyday. Suddenly I have to be the expert on which milk bottle to buy, how to sleep train, or prevent colic.
It's still alright if all I had to do was to handle baby. On top of that I still need to work, take care of igloo (yes he is still alive), feed myself, buy all groceries, keep the house clean, have basic personal hygiene like shower etc.
I now have so much newfound respect for all mothers, especially stay-at-home fulltime moms. These are the people who somehow don't get respect at all. People think they must be stupid, talentless, and have no goals or aspirations in life.
In actual fact, moms who choose to give up their careers in exchange for more precious time with their kids aren't doing it to have an easy time. They have the TOUGHEST job of all.
No other job requires 24/7 mental dedication, has no off days, no weekends, no sick leave, and disturbs you every few hours of your sleep.
And yet they choose to do this thankless job, choose to not wonder what else they could have achieved with their life if they weren't just "mom", choose to forsake their social life - because they understand that their kids won't be kids forever, and any time spent with them is magical, fleeting, and will never be possible again once its gone. That deserves more respect than any CEO does imho.
With that same dismissive attitude I gave to my business associate I also dismissed away people who told me to get a confinement nanny. I didn't like strangers in my house, so I asked my mother to do my confinement for me.
She slogged away and was such an immense help that I begged her to stay on after my confinement ended in a month. And just like that, this carried on for six months.
But my mom has to work too. She's a real estate agent. She is very busy and sometimes would leave me at home alone with Dash for days. Mike is no help since he comes home from work very late and has zero baby knowledge.
I remember when Dash was about a month old, my elderly grandfather passed away. My mother left me for 3 days while she handled his funeral.
I panicked because I knew I couldn't handle Dash all by myself for so long!! How can I sit down and pump milk for half an hour every four hours? If he is crying I can't carry and pacify him with two mechanical bottles on my boobs.
I called all my friends while sobbing hysterically to see if they could come over and help. Luckily for me, many of them did and I could finally shower/eat/take a proper dump/wash the milk bottles.
Once, Dash finally fell asleep while I was alone in the house with him. I went to take a poop. Halfway, he woke up and cried, so I had to hastily stop pooping, do a halfassed (lol geddit?) job at wiping, and shoot out of the toilet. It's hard to explain how tough it is, all I can say is once you became a mother you will understand.
Two things to clarify here.
1) It isn't tough being a mom. It's tough being a GOOD mom. Afterall, drug addicts and teens have become moms before, and those in the ghettos do it by themselves with 5 kids and no one to help them.
It's easy being a mom if you leave your baby to cry, don't give a shit if their nails are cut or diapers are soiled. I'm sure the infant mortality rate in ghettos is pretty high. But I have a standard I set for myself and that standard is really mentally and physically draining for one person to achieve.
2) I know I made motherhood sound terrible. It isn't. Many parts are extremely lovely - like when your baby smiles at you, or goes into a milk coma, or falls asleep in your arms. And Dash is so freaking cute - I just feel so happy and contented looking at him. Tired, but very happy.
So just like that I soldiered on for six months. My mom and I took turns taking care of Dash. It got easier when he got older.
But my mom wants to move back to her own place, and I really needed to get back to work. I neglected so much of my work! And that's not all. Both my mom and I started to have physical problems as well from our exertion. She started to limp and say her knee hurts. Then her thumb can't bend. As for me... I have constant shoulder and neck aches. (This still isn't resolved btw)
Knowing my mom is getting old and helping me take care of Dash and the house is hurting her, how can I continue to ask her to do it?
The house as also getting increasingly messy and dirty.
Finally I decided I needed to get a maid. Or domestic helper, I don't care for euphemisms. Just calling a spade a spade.
There are many reasons why I was so against having one.
We all heard the horror stories about bad maids. Like how they steal things, or have construction worker boyfriends that they bring home when employers aren't home, or seduce the husband of the family they work for.
But because such is the nature of humans, the stories of good maids don't spread so much. However, if you ask around, many people have fantastic helpers at home! I asked the opinion of two mommy friends of mine who also have maids at home. They said they absolutely cannot do without their maids! One of the maids even loves the toddler so much that during her off days she uses her own money to buy toys for her.
When I spoke to Dr Georgia Lee about how hard motherhood is, she told me to definitely find a maid. She said her maid has worked with her for over 20 years, taking care of her children as though they were her own, and is very much a part of the family.
Good maids who fit your family may not be easy to find, but once you DO find one, they are INVALUABLE.
Heartened, I went to look for mine.
I went with Prime Choice Maids through a contact.
They knew who I was and gave me a discount on the agency rates, and found me a helper.
My criteria? I wanted someone who is careful and meticulous with babies, preferably with experience. Not too young (they tend to be playful and always want to go out to have fun), nor too pretty/vain (zomg I think she will go sneakily wear all my clothes).
I don't care if she can't cook, there is a coffee shop just downstairs anyway and I don't mind buying zhup cai bng everyday or occasionally doing the cooking myself. Housework wise I am probably the easiest going person. As long as the house is kept relatively clean I'm ok.
Mostly I wanted a homebody I can trust who is going to take good care of Dash when I can't.
So they got me Eleanor!
Or we call her Ellen for short.
Ellen's been working for me for a few months now, but I waited for a bit to announce it just in case she isn't the right fit.
She's great with Dash, and she takes good care of him too. She's hardworking and does a great job cleaning the house too. She's the quiet introverted type, so she likes staying at home as well. She also got really excited when she saw igloo! She said she used to work at a pet shop before she came to Singapore and she loves animals.
With Ellen in my life things got much easier. With her helping for everything else, I now can spend more quality time playing with Dash without feeling like I wish he would nap so I could.
Dash can't stand being in the car seat for too long. With Ellen I can now go out with him anytime I want and she can give him toys or a biscuit (or worse come to worst the iPad) at the backseat. At least I wasn't trapped at home with Dash all day and we can go do fun stuff like going to the beach.
Dash at the beach, held by Ellen
Yay for freedom!!
I no longer have to do the chores I hated doing like washing bottles or sheets. Nor does my mom! When she comes visit, all she has to do is play with Dash instead of chores. Right now it's 1.58am and I'm blogging a long wordy post. I can do it only because I know I can sleep in tomorrow if I needed to.
I also got CCTVs installed in the house! At any time I can use my cellphone to look at the cameras and see what's going on at home. This gives me peace of mind when I'm out.
It's just been a few months - but I have to say that Ellen has become an invaluable addition to my life now. I hope she never leaves me wtf!!
And a lot of it I have to thank Prime Choice for.
Prime Choice is a small agency. They are located in Raffles Place and specialize in helping working moms find helpers, hence the location. Because they are small, they take in only good maids that they have narrowed down very selectively. The maids all have experience be it overseas or in Singapore.
If you are interested in getting a helper, you can go to Prime Choice's website to have a look at their selection... I like how everything about the maids are listed - age, number of children, experience etc - so you can make wiser choices for a fit into your family.
Dawn, who works there, is a strict no-nonsense sort of lady. She is also an excellent judge of character, which I feel is very important in her line of work. She's also very frank and honest. Some maids she feels aren't good for me, she just honestly tells me so. It is thanks to her I got a good match!
It was tough writing this post because my haters love to say that I am a lazy, irresponsible mom. Already somehow people got the impression that my mother was doing all the hard work taking care of Dash while I tralala skip off to do my nails. (I didn't do my nails till Dash was 8 months old FYI)
Now that I've got a maid I'm gonna get it worse. Well, this is what I have to say to these haters:
FUCK YOU. Until you become a mom and know how tough it is, please stfu.
Getting a maid wasn't so I can be an absentee mother, it's so I can be a BETTER one.
So I can earn more for his secure future, so I can have energy to play with him, read to him, bring him out for activities etc without feeling like I wanna sleep for the next thousand years. Getting a maid was so the husband and I can have the occasional date night and our marriage can last and Dash will have a father for hopefully a long time to come.
I know I shouldn't care about what people say as long as I know I'm doing a good job as Dash's mother. But it's just SO infuriating to work so hard and have people think it's easy and you are being lazy!!!!!! GRRR!! I cannot!!
*calms self down*
Anyway... This isn't a sponsored post, they never said I have to blog for them.
I'm writing it because it's my heartfelt thoughts and I especially wish to share it with expectant moms who think they are going to have it easy. I did. I way underestimated motherhood. Especially if you plan on breastfeeding, it's definitely NOT easy.
If you wish to get a helper, you can try Prime Choice Maids. They are pretty good.
This is my biggest advice to new moms: Get a helper. Get one when you are six months pregnant so you know if she's a good fit and you can train her. The first three months are the toughest, and you are going to need all the help you can get!