I’ve written fairly extensively on the topic of maids. I have a whole category to go and read on the topic. For the last year, when I’ve touched on the topic, it’s most often to share that it is possible to live without a maid (which is not the advice you’ll get from most expats/moving to SG guides/etc). I’ve been open about how our experience with a helper went wrong, both the parts that were her fault and those that were mine.
So today, in an attempt to be open and honest about the pros and cons of not having a maid, I need to share a major downside when it comes to the choice of living without a maid in Singapore.
Where have I been for the last 2 weeks? I had walking pneumonia. So much fun. (sarcasm)
The first week I kept insisting it was a bad cold. But after the cough just got worse and worse, I caved and talked to my doctor last week (whom I had to see to get some test results anyways) which is when I got the diagnosis.
“Get some rest”, she told me. “Stay in bed for a few days, sleep, let the antibiotics help. Take the cough syrup, but it will make your sleepy because it has codeine.”
This was sage advice. I’m sure it would’ve helped. But I didn’t follow it because I couldn’t.
Last week Ravi had a lot of work-related stuff going on. I had several appointments (one of which I’d already delayed once because of this same illness the first day I’d felt ill, and another where the doctor was heading out of town), Ellie had school, and so forth. My sitter came in and helped one evening, but for the most part I had to just survive until the weekend, when Ravi could largely handle the girls and I could sleep for long stretches.
It got so bad, I started to reconsider this whole “no maid” thing.
When we first came to Singapore for our look-see, I was told we’d need a maid. That it was essential to survival in Singapore. I was skeptical…until I came down with a double ear infection just before we went back to the states. I was so disoriented and sick that my in-laws actually took Ellie for several days. That experience is what motivated me to hire a maid immediately. What if I got really sick?
2011 seemed to validate that–if you’re a long time reader, you’ll remember that I broke my leg just above the ankle and had to be in a wheelchair for 8 weeks while it healed, luckily avoiding surgery. Then there’s the part where pregnancy involved hyperemesis (you puke and puke and puke all through the pregnancy–my pregnancy can best be summarized by laying on the floor of my bathroom having just puked or waiting to puke again). Then I got hospitalized for pre-term labor for a few days. Then I had the baby (which ended up being a 6 day stay). Then the baby got hospitalized with a stomach flu for 5 days at a month old. Then the baby got sick AGAIN with RSV and got hospitalized AGAIN at 2 months old.
2012 brought with it nothing more than a bout of flu. Ravi managed to do both drop off and pick up a few times, my sitter was able to pinch hit a bit and friends helped out as well. No hospitalizations, broken bones, or any such nonsense.
But this time I learned what it’s really like to have to stay standing when you want to fall over. I didn’t ask for help from friends–I didn’t want my friends with kids to be exposed to me and whatever germs I might be carrying. (Yes, I sent E to school–my kindness extends only so far, and I needed those 3.5 hours a day without her.) Ravi couldn’t pinch hit for me because of work. My own schedule meant I had to be up and about anyways. My sitter came Wednesday, but it was her last day with us (she’s moving on to a wonderful opportunity in another country) and I did not have a replacement sitter.
What could I do? I just tried to survive it.
There were meals of cereal. There was a LOT of television. The one hour of ‘quiet time’ accidentally became two most days (and yes, I slept while Rhi slept and E watched her tablet). I went to bed early. I became virtually silent here, on twitter, on facebook, and in real life. I just gritted my teeth, tried not to hate all childless people and working adults who have “sick days,” and survived as best I could.
This is not meant to be a “poor me” post. I got through it, the kids are alive and were pretty damn thrilled at the nonstop barrage of Sesame Street. Ravi spent all weekend parenting, and I spent most of the weekend asleep. I finished my antibiotics yesterday. I have rejoined the land of the living. I’m fine–cranky, still a bit tired, still coughing a bit, but fine.
This is just meant to show that not having a helper sometimes sucks, too.