What I am about to say is going to make me sound spoiled. But I beg you to keep an open mind. I feel confident I will have you feeling sorry for me by the end of this post…just stay with me.
We have help. Like, hired help. Like someone who we pay to wash our clothes, iron them and put them away type of help. This someone also does the dishes, mops the floors, takes out the trash, kills, I mean, waters our plants and even watches our children. If I am being perfectly honest, we actually have 2 someones. One person looks after the house and one person looks after our kids when we are at work.
I’m not gonna lie…it is awesome. And one of the reasons I can’t ever move home. Seriously, I don’t remember how to iron.
But before you go getting all jealous of me and my help situation, you need to know three things:
You, too, can have help. You just have to move to China. Or really anywhere in Asia. Or even South America, the Middle East or Africa. Basically you just can’t live in North America, Europe, Australia, the North Pole or anywhere with enforceable laws and civilized driving practices. But before you pack your bags, you should know that there are ALWAYS trade-offs for help. In China, we trade clean air for help. And large parking spaces. And Target. In Bogata, you might trade your general safety and likelihood of being kidnapped. In Thailand, they trade the joy of wearing Ugg boots in winter for help. The trade-offs vary…but there are always trade-offs.
In China, it is the norm to hire people to do your domestic chores and to take care of your children. These wonderful, marvelous people are called ‘ayis’. In Chinese, this word literally translates to ‘Auntie’ and it is a term of respect and endearment. But in terms of what an ayi does, they are really more like the English equivalent of a ‘maid’ or ‘nanny’. Here is the thing, it is the norm to have help because having help is relatively cheap. You can hire a full-time ayi (7 a.m. -5 p.m, M-F) to do all the things I mentioned above for about 600 USD a month. Yeah. Told you! Amaze-balls! Perhaps an equally important reason for having an ayi is that it is your civic responsibility. By hiring an ayi, you are providing employment for someone who doesn’t really have a lot of other options. You are kinda a schmuck if you don’t hire one. Really, everybody wins. You get to forget how to iron and they get to support their family. It works. Don’t fight it.
For as awesome as it is, having an ayi can also suck. And, no, I’m not kidding. Here is the thing, some ayis are totally the most wonderful people in the world and become an extension of your family and you love them more than some of your own blood relatives. But…some…Oh. My. Gawd. Some, are serious head cases that you have to constantly manage and massage (in the figurative sense, not in the get out the oil and rub it all over them sense…that would be weird. You are such a wacko for even thinking that). Even if you get a good one, there are cultural differences a plenty. For instance, you may have different beliefs about child rearing or where an appropriate place to set down an iron would be (i.e. not face down on a wooden table). #truestory. Then there are the many language barriers and constant misunderstandings. Let me tell you, it is really exhausting to play charades every time you want to communicate that “this plant needs to only be watered once a week but you must take it to the sink to water it so as to not drip water all over the furniture”. So you just don’t bother. And then you spend a good chunk of time and money replacing dead plants and buying new furniture that does not have water damage (but soon will because you still can’t speak Chinese and she still can’t speak English and both of you suck at charades).
Suffice it to say that, sometimes the “help” is not all that helpful. We spend an inordinate amount of time in our house trying to find things our ayi intentionally hides from us “puts away” and complaining that our picture frames aren’t straight because she dusted them (THAT WHORE! J/K mama, J/K!). First world problems, I know.
Not feeling sorry for me yet? Just wait…it ain’t over.
Until about 4 months ago, we had a bat-shit crazy ayi (She may or may not be featured somewhere in this post…I will never tell) AND she lived with us! It may sound luxurious to have live-in help, but I assure you, it was not. Not at all like the movies. I can’t possibly explain all the reasons why it was sucky with a capital S (without sounding like a right ass) so I won’t, but y’all…trust me, it was horrible. Fantastically horrible. Like finding a tooth in your Big Mac.
Our old ayi lived in our basement. Our basement is better than a dark, rat infested prison cell but it is no Grand Hyatt…that is for sure. It is warm and clean(ish) but the ceilings are low, there are exposed pipes (not the cool Manhattan loft type ones either), there are no windows and it is inhabited by a lot of ugly furniture. She was comfortable; she had a warm (and free) place to live with bed, T.V. and couch, but she wasn’t livin’ large.
Now our old ayi is gone (Why? Because she was bat shit crazy, that’s why.) and we suddenly have all this extra space. At first we just started throwing things down there and treating it like one big episode of storage wars. But the more we went down there to discard unwanted/unused objects, the more we started thinking that maybe, just maybe, we could turn this little dungeon into a useable, dare I say, cute space.
It is ambitious. The “space” is a serious underdog.
But I’m gonna try anyway. And I’m not entirely sure why. Maybe it is the challenge? Maybe it is because I like setting myself up for disappointment? Maybe it is because I truly believe in leaving no space behind? But it is probably because I’m a little stupid and like to have excuses to spend money. Plus, everybody needs a little help. Even basements.
This is the part where you are supposed to feel sorry for me. I have just told you that I am dumb and I am going to through some money at trying to revive a basement that is clearly on the DNR list.
Ah, well…for now, let me leave you with this eye candy (mind you, this is already after we spent 2 days sprucing it up). Pinners, pin away.
See what I mean? Kind of a lost cause. Even Finners feels bad for me. Regardless, stay tuned to this channel if you would like to witness the train wreck. I’ll be here.