Sunday, June 27, 2010

I almost lost her...

Today started out as any ordinary Sunday would. Brunch before 11am, then my parents arrived to pick us up for our weekly grocery trip. I usually check out some shops before I join my parents in the grocery, but this time, we all went in together. My dad went his way, my mom went the opposite direction, and Chloe and I walked around with no shopping cart. We only had a few items to buy anyway.

An hour after, we all met up at the cashier. Chloe was being her usual malikot self. Running around, trying to see how far she can walk away from me until I call her back. I kept an eye on her the whole time. So while I was helping my dad load some of their purchases on the conveyor, I made sure that I can still see Chloe from the corner of my eye. When my mom went back to get something she forgot to get, I didn't pay much attention to her. Because that's normally how it goes.

A few seconds after my mom left, Chloe was nowhere to be seen.

I immediately went around to search for her. I started with the nearby aisles, hoping that she's just waiting for me to find her. I started checking each aisle one by one, shouting her name, hoping she'll hear me and come running back. NONE.

Panicked, I signalled to my dad that I couldn't find her. With brows furrowed, he whipped out his cellphone to call my mom. I tried fumbling for mine in my bag's pockets, but with all the worry and panic that was going on in my head, I couldn't find my celphone.

A man in a blue and white striped shirt approached me and asked who I was looking for. 'Anak ko,' I cried. He asked for the gender. I said girl. He got out his walkie talkie and, I presume, radioed his other colleagues, probably in civilian wear too, to look out for a little girl wandering alone.

I could feel the other shoppers' eyes on me, as they saw me, a panicked woman with a crazy look in her eyes, running around the aisles and calling out Chloe's name loudly. But I didn't care about the scene I was making. I just wanted to see my little girl in her white dress running back to me.

It had been only a few minutes since the whole thing started, but at that moment, it really, really felt like an eternity. With no signs of Chloe, I ran back to my dad. And I saw him calmly loading groceries on the belt. I asked him if he knew where Chloe was. He said Chloe was with my mother.


After the initial relief, I unabashedly wept. :D The man in the striped shirt saw me crying, and asked if I had found her. "Oo, kasama mama ko." He smiled. I smiled. And wept some more.

A few seconds later, Chloe and my mom came back, happily prancing about, oblivious to the near breakdown they almost caused me. My mom said that after she turned around to go back and get whatever item she forgot to get, she saw Chloe running after her. Good thing she did! Because obviously, I didn't.

The thing is, a few weeks back, I had this thought about all the parents out there who reported their kids missing. How did they cope? Were the kids ever found? My mom told me this story of one mom who lost her son and later found out that he was in Hong Kong, arms and legs chopped off, begging on the streets for money. Urban legend? I don't know. But when I heard the story, I had hoped nothing like that would ever happen to us. The idea of not knowing where your baby is, of having to go home after an innocent trip to the mall with no baby in tow, is scary. I wouldnt' wish it on my worst enemy.

As I am typing this, I watch my little daughter deep into her nap, lying down beside me on our white comforter. And I am deeply, humbly thankful to the powerful being up there, that this day ended peacefully and happily, and that I am able to type this blog post calmly.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Maid # 14

Should I or shouldn't I?

Do I include her in the count?

We fetched maid # 14 from agency last night. We got home around 10pm, and I showed her her living quarters, where to bathe etc. Then I showed her her breakfast fare, with bread and spreads. I asked if she drank coffee, she said yes. So I gave her a new pack of coffee, and even helped her boil her water to put in their thermos. After things had been put away, I asked her to rest and be ready by 7.30 am the next day.

The next morning, we awoke to the sound of our phone ringing. It was the guard. Our maid was at the guard house, asking to go out. I said no, she didn't ask for our permission.

So I went downstairs and asked the maid why she wanted to go out. She needed to buy bread. The bread I gave her, has molds daw. Flabbergasted, I went to her table to check. Nope, no molds there. Nada. Not even a hint of green on the loaf. So I told her to show me - where are the molds? Oh, no molds. But when she woke up this morning daw, the bread pack was in the trash can already.

Oh really?

I decided to let the senseless reply go. So I asked her again, kumain ka na? She said yes. I asked her to go upstairs to help me with chores.

She didn't know how to chop garlic and onion. And I have to pat myself on the back for this - I showed her how to do it very, very patiently. While I was cooking Mike and Chloe's baon for the day, she engaged me in a very awkward conversation.

Maid: Magkano ba ang sweldo ko dito?
Me: P________
Maid: Pagtapos ng 2 buwan, magkano na makuha ko?
Me: P________
Maid: Tapos, may utang ako sa agency ng Php 2t+?
Me: Ah, ang alam ko, utang mo sa agency is Php 4t+
Maid: Php 4t+?!?!?! Pano umabot ng Php 4t+ yun?

Then she proceeded to enumerate to me her boat fare, her lodgings etc. It couldn't have reached PHp 4t+.

Note that this conversation was taking place with maid speaking in Cebuano, and me speaking in Tagalog. She understands Tagalog, but can't speak it. I usually just try to translate her words into Tagalog and she nods when I get it right.

So back to story.

While enumerating, her voice kept rising. I told her that she signed for her dues in front of me. If she had any issues with how it was computed, better if she talk with the agency.

So to make a long story short, while we were waiting for the agency to call me back, I showed her how to clean our rooms. While she was cleaning, I took a shower and got ready for the office. I looked for her in the room where I left her - she wasn't there. So I asked Mike to ask her to come up and finish cleaning the room.

Mike came up and said, the maid is having her coffee break.


I went downstairs where this conversation took place:

Me: Maid no. 14, anong ginagawa mo?
Maid: Mag kape muna ako. Kasi di pa ako kumain buong araw eh.
Me: Haaaa? E diba kanina tinanong kita sabi mo kumain ka na?
Maid: Hindi, nagpainit lang ako ng tubig.(San sya magpapainit eh wala namang stove sa room nya?)
Me: Alam mo, maid no. 14, araw araw pumapasok kami sa trabaho. Kelangan, habang andito pa kami, malinis na ang buong bahay. Pag alis namin, ikaw na bahala ano gusto mo gawin. Pero sa umaga, dapat matapos na ang trabaho bago kami umalis. Umakyat ka na.

So up she went.

Then she asked if I'm leaving for work already, because she wants to go with me. She wants me to bring her back to the agency.

My goodness.

I called agency and I don't know what they talked about, but she was crying when she handed me back my phone, saying she'll stay na lang daw.

NO. As Chloe would say, I don't yike.

I don't like having someone who lies, nor do I like having someone bearing a grudge (against agency or me) work for us. It's too risky. We're not home most of the time.

So we showed her the door.

So tell me - do I include her in my maid count?

She stayed for only 14 hours. :D

Part of me wants to, if only so I can win this game I'm playing by myself.

Another part of me doesn't want to, because the higher the numbers go, the more I think something is wrong with me. Mike suggested having a priest bless the maid's quarters. And I agreed. Can you believe it? I agreed.

What do you think?

Sunday, June 06, 2010

NOT a SATC 2 Review

When I watch movies, I almost always find a scene that is relevant to what is currently going on in my life. And in SATC 2, that scene was at the bar where Charlotte cried her heart out to Miranda.

Every word, every emotion in that scene, I had uttered out (well, YMd) in one way or another to my two best gal pals in the world. And to my hubby too. All of them understood. But I wanted to know if what I'm feeling is normal. If I am normal.

After hearing Charlotte say her lines, and seeing Miranda nodding her head, I breathed a sigh of relief. Somewhere in the world, I know there are women nodding their heads in agreement too. YAY!

I had a life before I became a mom. I had my own time, and my own list of things I wanted to do during my spare time. I had a very, very fixed idea of what a balanced life should be. I like having a plan, you see. Spontaneity was never my thing. I was never good at accepting changes.

And before Chloe came to our lives, I thought I can handle motherhood the way I handle other things - on a schedule. Once, I even sat down and wrote how and when our day should start, and what we should be doing by 1PM on weekdays, or 1PM on weekends. And I became frustrated. So many things that I had scheduled to do, I couldn't do. Because we weren't finished with feeding Chloe. Because we weren't finished bathing her. Because she didn't want to take her nap.

And these changes in schedule - I couldn't handle. Everyday, I was able to feed, bathe and play with Chloe, and give her a nap. Everyday, I was able to do things for her. But what about MY list? What about the things I wanted to do? Around this time, I started whining to my hubby and closest friends. I love my family, but sometimes, I want to do things for myself - am I crazy? Am I a failure? Am I a bad mom? I wanted someone to say yes, so that I can change whatever it is I'm doing wrong. But everyone said I'm normal. Everyone said I'm not a failure. Everyone said I'm a good mom. But I was so frustrated and feeling guilty for being frustrated! What in the world am I not doing right?!? Why can I not make motherhood work for me?!

And then Mike suggested I go out by myself once in a while. To which I vehemently said no. I didn't want to go anywhere without them. Besides, going out by myself would only make me a worse mom, right? After all, moms are supposed to love their children all the time. I have never heard of a mom take a break from her kids.

But every night, after everyone was asleep, I would think of all those things I wanted to do but couldn't because I was too busy doing mom things. I thought, if I can only have a day to myself, I would be able to get things done!

Hmmm... why does that idea sound so familiar? :)

So a plan came up. Twice a month, I will have a day to myself. To do anything I want. Shop. Bake. Surf. Dinner with friends. Spa. Sleep. And Chloe? She gets some alone time with Mike.

It's been two weeks since the plan was drafted, and I've been out twice already! Mike allows me to cheat too. On days when he feels like I'm itching to do something, he takes over my mom duties, so that I can get more extra hours to myself. Ain't that sweet? Thanks honey! :)

And I have stopped feeling guilty for wanting some time alone. Instead of feeling guilty, I give Chloe (and Mike) quality time when I'm with them.

So now, I have the best of both worlds. :) and I couldn't be happier.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Baby's First Movie Date

Too bad I wasn't able to take a picture. :(

We wanted to take advantage of the four free movie passes from Citibank, which Mike got from enrolling our Meralco bill. The passes were only good until June 3, which was why we trekked to the nearby movie house to watch Shrek in 3D at 10 PM.

The 3D tickets left me flabbergasted at a total of Php 900 for the three of us! It's obviously been a long time since we last caught a movie on the big screen. (I save those big screen dates for movies like Avatar, SATC, Twilight...) So Php 900 minus passes worth Php 400 = Php 500!! But since we were there already, we went ahead and bought the tickets.

Chloe loved running around the theater. And when she sat down, the folding chair kept closing up, because she was so light! :) "I want to watch Shrrrak! I want to watch Shrrrak!" Yes, the whole theater probably knew how excited our daughter was to watch the green ogre on the big screen.

Halfway through the movie, Mike and I decided to move to a less populated part of the theater, as Chloe was giving a very loud running commentary of the movie. "There are three babies!" she said when she saw Shrek's three babies. "The witches are flying!" when she saw the witches flying.

Towards the end of the movie, Chloe had gotten tired of explaining to her parents what was happening in the movie, and decided instead to climb on all the unoccupied chairs beside us. Hahahahaha.

We did have a good time though. But maybe our next movie date with Chloe would be after she turns three. :D

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Trust Issues

In the three years since we started hiring, we've had thirteen (13) maids work for us. Some, who stayed for less than a week, I didn't include in the count anymore.

When well meaning friends and relatives (and parents) noticed how often our maids would come and go, I would always receive the same advise - lower your standards. If the work they do is below my expectations, just turn a blind eye. If they pretend to not hear me when I talk to them, don't say anything, lest the maids get mad and decide to up and go. If they get food from our refrigerator without my permission, make a mental note of it but pretend not to notice. Just so the maids will stay.

By the time we were with our 7th hire, I decided to listen to the advise. Never mind that the pots and pans aren't clean, or that they go out of the house in the middle of the night for some lusty rendezvouz with their boyfriends. I was playing blind and dumb - something I do not like doing.

For several months after my decision, the length of time they spent here working SHORTENED, from months, to weeks, to days. Harharhar.

Our 11th maid refused to work because she said it was not part of the agreement with the agency. Because, you know, as a maid, she's not obliged to clean, wash the dishes and do the laundry. I never asked what she thought she was supposed to do as a maid. She left.

Our 12th maid, after 4 days of working for us, wanted to go on a day off and wanted to borrow money from me, even with her unpaid dues from the agency. But thanks to a good friend who told me to be firm with money issues, I didn't give her the amount she wanted. She left. (Thanks Joe!!)

Our 13th maid, currently working for us, did this:

My hubby and I operate an online store, and for pick ups, we ask buyers to pick up the items from our house and leave the payment in a sealed envelope.

As I was opening this envelope last night, I noticed how there were holes near the parts where the staple wires are (check out the three encircled parts in red). The size of the previous holes and current staple wires don't even match. Who would make it a point to carefully staple on the part where it was previously stapled? And why do dut?!?!

So my hunch is - our current maid did it. The money is untouched, but I'm pissed that she feels it's her right to open things that aren't hers.

I decided last night, to stop playing this dumb and blind game. It's not working anyway - they just seem to get worse and worse. I pay the agreed amount for their salary, so I should get what I expect from them.

So this Sunday, I am asking her to leave. Even with no replacement. And I have to say, I'm so looking forward to this Sunday. :)