One of the ‘perks’ of Asia is that of a live-in helper. We have gone without for over a year now thanks to various reasons – I wasn’t sure about it at first. The idea of having someone living in the home at your beckon call was completely foreign. What possibly could be different about Hong Kong that I can’t survive on my own like I did back home?
I was stupid and naive to think living in Hong Kong would be anywhere near as easy as living back in Sydney. Getting the groceries with a two year old, even with a car is now an exercise in strength and stamina. Never mind the fact I might have to go to several different grocery stores in the process. Trying to schedule to socialise while also making sure you are at home on time to pick up child number two because a mad rush – varying traffic conditions (on the rare occasion you drive) combined with walking, public transport, etc can mean a simple mothers group get together can end with an aggravated bus mother lecturing you because you are a minute late getting to the front of your building for the bus – uncaring of the fact you also have a screaming two year old in tow. “A night out” is something only found in dreams. “A few hours without both kids” only occurs if your husband isn’t busy saving the world, instead he has to save his wife’s sanity while not getting a break himself. You get cast off as a bad mother because you don’t help out at the school like every other ex-pat mum. Your school-going child misses out on social events or school excursions because you can not go with them and take your other child. These are but a few examples of some of the situations I have encountered over the last year which could have been made easier if only I had some help.
I have been barely hanging on to my ex-pat life – dangling on a tender-hook. I have some great friends that have been really supportive here, but I have been finding the isolation, the non stop on the go of everything and the extreme lack of recharge time so draining that I wonder what on earth I was thinking just over a year ago when I said ‘ok’ to our Hong Kong adventure. A few months into our move, I realised we needed a helper – and the global financial tsunami hit. Uncertainty meant nothing happened when I asked for help. Finally several months later, we were in a position to consider a helper again, but a series of unfortunate events meant we remained without help… until now.
Today, my help arrived. We don’t know each other well yet, and I am sure there will be a few weeks of weirdness while we get organised, but I know things can get better, can get easier, now we have a second pair of hands and eyes around. I don’t need to worry about rushing home because I need to wait for a school bus, or not putting Mitchell into an extra curricula course because it will clash with Bethany’s schedule. I can focus on the kids and not get bogged down in housework. I can escape for some alone time and not feel guilty about my child being neglected. I might even be able to enjoy a night out alone with my husband without having to worry about how my children are behaving in a restaurant because they will be home in bed. Our family has the support we’ve been needing for some time now.
I KNOW how lucky I am to have this opportunity. I hope our helper will be a long term fixture in our family while we are here. I am sure you will hear more about her as we start a new beginning with her in our lives.
We’ve had a terrible couple of weeks with bad luck of varying extremes – here is hoping this is the glimmer of light we need right now.