He was on the train to the airport when he noticed a family sitting across from him. The family decided to bring the helper along on vacation to look after the 2 kids so that everyone could enjoy the trip and not spend the entire time looking after the children. The parents were talking rather loudly, whining and complaining about the cost of bring the helper on their family vacation, the inconvenience of applying for travel visa for the helper and of course, the entire train heard them.
It was not pleasant, I gathered. It is never polite and plainly offensive to everyone when a person complains about the hassle of being around another person in the person's face. It's like throwing a party for your nearest and dearest, and you whine about the cost of feeding the entire party to the guests' faces. It's downright mean. What kind of example are the parents setting for their children?
-- Image from Amy Atlas.
Back to the rant.
My friend was angry after hearing the conversation. He ranted on Facebook, whatever happened to looking after your own children. Why do we need someone else to do it, when our parents did everything themselves? If the vacation was meant to bond the family, the parents ought to spend more time with the children rather than letting the helper do it.
I felt both guilty and indignant all at once.
We have a helper at home since the baby arrived. We took care of the baby most of the time, while the helper took care of the chores and cooking. When we needed a little sleep-in, or when we fell sick (twice since the baby came along), it was a godsend to have the helper care for the little one. We were too drowsy and riddled with flu germs to properly care for the little one, and we did not want to pass on the flu to him. The extra pair of hands helped.
We have been thinking of a little getaway before I go back to work full-time. And like the family, we thought of bringing the helper as well. The baby is now 8 months old and strong like an ox. I mean, I can barely hang onto him during his baths since he wriggles like a slippery worm and splashes all over the tub. I've fallen once and luckily the helper was nearby and the baby wasn't hurt. But do you get the picture? Every little thing takes twice as long and thrice as hard because you have a cheeky little baby who's curious about the world and can give 2 hoots about safety. How would we manage if we go to say, Disneyland and the young one sprint off in every direction while I queue for tickets and J is manhandling the stroller? We have become dependent on the helper.
Then again, why do we have to be judged for our dependency on others? I'm no superwoman. There are times when I just feel like screaming when the little one won't eat. Or drink. Or sleep.
When I'm down with the flu (this just happened last week and I was out completely for 8 days), the last thing I want is to wake up every 3 hours to play and feed the baby. The little one got sick once when we tried to do everything ourselves and managed to just pass the bug to him. Runny nose, cough and fever is no walk in the park for a baby. Sometimes you just need someone to take care of the baby while you take care of yourself.
There are times when we are out that we are thankful for the helper. We can do grocery shopping with so much more ease. I tried to push a stroller with a crying baby and a shopping cart before. It was hell. How do you pick out fish/fruits/veggies while keeping an eye on the stroller, just in case the baby gets kidnapped? The likelihood is low, but I'm not taking that chance. On days we just want to have a nice meal, it's such a treat to have someone care for the baby while we savour the delicious piece of grilled fish. Sure, it does cost a bit more. She eats whatever we do, so if we have Starbucks, she has Starbucks. if we have a $6 gelato, she has a $6 gelato. So if we have steak, she has the same. Which is why we have stopped going to fancy restaurants because we are on a single income and there are now 4 mouths to feed.
It takes a village to raise a child. And unless that village is ensconced by a bubble and children can run around without being hurt or kidnapped, an extra pair of hands is always welcomed.