I’ve done my damndest to raise my kids myself – hands on with the routines, wiping their snotty noses, cleaning their stinky bums, reading to them ALL THE TIME! But I love my job and didn’t quite ever let go of My Career. Leaving them in someone elses not always capable charge seemed to be the thing to do if you wanted to live this double life, so I did it, I got unqualified help. I worked 52 steps from my front door, I could be there within 15 seconds (I timed it), I could hear most of what was happening, it wasn’t a completely uncalculated move and nothing disastrous or really bad ever actually happened but it’s been close.
I think we can all agree that not everyone was meant to spend every waking moment with their own children. It really does take a village. Don’t get me wrong, I love the little fruit that have sprung forth from my loins – they’re smart little creatures and cute as buttons to boot, they bloody well should be, I’ve put my best years into getting them that way. Truth be told though, I need to get out and have the company and conversation of people who pay me. So I do. From working 13 – 15 hour days I cut my time down to 5 or 6 hours (excluding lunch), breaking them into 2 hour increments so that I could pop home to check on whatever was going down with the person who in turn had been taken into my employ to support their own little kidlets. To my credit I’ve had some lovely ladies on my pay roll, caring, nurturing types that obeyed my every command because they know that “Mama knows best”. And then I’ve had some that would make your hair stand on end.
The First: MamaNombies* (names have been changed) Bless her heart in her giant 6 foot frame! She would dwarf us little hobbits and perhaps I didn’t call it a day when I should have because I was a little scared that she’d sit on me. The First Nanny of The Eldest – a woman that I believed would raise my children like me but in a different language. Between The Samurai and I we have two of the local official languages and with MamaNombies we could have a third African language that would give The Eldest An Edge in this beautiful rainbow nation of ours. Being a first time Nanny employer I didn’t want to tire the poor dear out, so if she complained of achy joints and tired legs she wouldn’t have take the pram down the farm road
most days that day. I’d make her a cup of tea when I popped in for the half an hour that I had to nurse my 6 week old while she put her feet up and mopped her brow (not the floor) with a hanky.
“eess theess foh mee?” she would ask if I’d not managed to finish the family sized bag of apples within two days and then merrily dump them from the fruit bowl directly into her Peps carrier bag.
“Yoo kuhntt feenish thees”, she would say and carry off half a loaf of bread and the rest of the cheese in the fridge, with some meat from the freezer because I clearly had too much.
“Yoo ah nut yoossing thees”, pointing to our old fridge in the garage, “Cun yoo breeng eet to maai sheck?”
Of course, I’d arrange a bakkie* and get it dropped off at the local squatter camp – at her shack, no mean feat since it’s not like there are street names or anything. My neighbour and dear friend is a Saint!
The woman lived in shack for pete’s sake! She had so little! And I have so much! Okay – I work for it and buy it (or at least the Samurai does – my money is for frittering away on Nannies and such). But as any white South African of my generation can identify we have Guilt. White Guilt. Don’t judge us – you could be the first, since everyone else does.
Then there was the day that I got home on my ‘break’ and found MamaNombies sleeping on my bed (given – which she had made but the saying goes “you make YOUR bed, you lie in it) with my 6 month old happily playing next to her, kind of sitting (the baby not the nanny) kind of pitching forward to go after her Snoozie bear. Whipping up my darling first born into the sanctity of my arms I said her name quite loudly and then on the third time I gave her a firm shove, which startled her awake.
“oh, she was so Taaaiyed!’ she yawned.
Eish wena – even then I didn’t have the heart to tell her it was time for her look for another job. Oh my word! What kind of nutcase puts her White Guilt before the welfare of her child? A South African nutcase? A New Mother nutcase? A Post Natal Depressant kind of nutcase? Just a nutcase?
No that happened about 2 weeks later when she made of with three grand in cash. Stupidly left by me along with the rest of my admin. next the to apples.
With a record of having taken her previous employers to court about unfair dismissal I went the long way round since I didn’t have any proof that she’d taken it except that she was the only one with access to it. I got an ombudsman and we had a little ‘trial’ and I paid her her notice and sent her packing.
Then I changed my cellphone number and hid away with the curtains drawn every time I heard footsteps in the driveway – I needn’t have worried, MamaNombies was too lazy to walk the way out to our little farm house since I’d drive her to and from work out of Guilt in owning a car.
And that was just the first one – hey, you’ve got to start somewhere.
*pick up truck