The story so far: I called B-aunty who found me through Sulekha.com at the end of February. The first thing I asked her was if she had found another job. She said no. Cool, then I told her the baby’s due date and that I would be interested in hiring her if she could do all the things I needed from her – particularly the massage.
She mentioned that she had never done an adult’s massage before and the only baby massage she had done were for her own boys, whom she still massaged at age 10 and 6. Fair enough, I said. As for experience, she had previously worked for a family for 4 months. Confirming that she was still available, I told her I would call her back close to the due date or right after the baby was born and if she was still available, she could start working for me. (It was only later that I realized how much of this whole deal I had made at phone value.
I didn’t even think to ask for references even after she said she had worked for that one family mainly because she said they had returned to Bangladesh – at least I think that’s what she said). Because I don’t speak Punjabi and her Hindi isn’t the best, I had trouble communicating with her and I wondered if that would be an issue.
Now one thing B-aunty is, is determined. She sent me a WhatsApp message asking for my address so she could check out how close or far my place was to hers and how long it would take her to either drive or take public transportation to my place. I trusted her enough to send her my address. I guess I am good at evaluating people on one long phone conversation (rolls eyes at self). Then, she messaged asking if she could stop by one day to meet me. I couldn’t say no to that. After all, I realized (again, after the fact) that I had never interviewed her per se. All I had asked was if she could do the things I needed her to, to which she had truthfully answered (to the extent I could make out) and I was ready to give her the job of being among my family members, cooking for me, and cleaning my home, and more importantly massaging me without irrevocably damaging my muscles, without really knowing anything about her or even checking her references out of which she only had that one and didn’t seem to mind giving me their number (which I never actually asked and she never actually provided).
My due date came and went and she called to ask if the baby was here yet. I told her I would call her, for sure, once the baby was born. Once Baby E was born and after the masseuse I called from the hospital did not work out, I called B-aunty to start coming from the day we got back from the hospital.
B-aunty – I call her by her first name but she is aunty to my kids as is common for Indian kids. Indian upbringing instills the need to immediately make someone a relative for some reason, whether one wants to or not. On one hand it establishes a sense of community and apnapan. On the other hand, from a Western perspective, it just doesn’t make sense. My kids, regardless of whether they eventually end up being more Indian or Canadian, will always respect those older than them (granted there may be some adults who do not deserve any respect and I am thinking serial killers and other criminals and some who are just nasty individuals who may not necessarily have committed a legal offense). I would like my kids to respectfully address those older than them (age dependent) as uncle or aunty, if Indian, and if the said uncle or aunty does not mind being called that. If they are not Indians, then I would like the kids to refer to them as Mr or Ms. SO…B-aunty she is for J!
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It was great having B-aunty. Initially we were only going to hire her thrice a week but on Aaron’s insistence, I agreed to have her come in everyday. Because she could only work when her boys were in school, she came in for 4 hours M-F. It was weird. Much as I liked having her help with the cooking, cleaning, baby-sitting, and massaging, I used to be filled with a certain dread everyday before she came. A dread that stemmed from wondering what work I needed to give her that day to get my money’s worth and for her to feel like she was contributing her time well. To her credit, she always tried to find something to do. If she was done with the cooking she would start arranging J’s toys, if she was done with that, she would start folding laundry, if that was done, she would start dusting. She kept herself busy and was always sincere in everything she did. I especially loved her massages. One could tell how untrained she was when she first started massaging. She was still great in terms of applying good pressure and doing an overall good job and I was just glad to get massaged, quality could always be adapted.
As the days progressed, she got better and better at massages. In the last couple weeks, I absolutely loved my 20 minutes of focused back massage, and near 40 minutes of leg massages both front and back. She also did head massages. Loved, loved, loved all that pampering and I really appreciated the fact, from her very first massage, that she didn’t appear to massage to get a job done. She meant for her massage to heal. She was purposeful in her strokes.
She was a good cook too. She liked that she could cook for us what she cooked at home. We didn’t have any specific need for her to do anything one way or the other. We ate everything and Aaron, to his credit, was fine with eating Indian food even with cilantro.
After the first month post-partum, I asked her to cook some chicken one day and she did. Otherwise, the food she cooked was vegetarian and based on whatever fresh vegetables I bought at the local farmer’s market. She would also make phulkas or chapatis or rotis nearly everyday. She even brought me some Sarson da Saag she had made at home once and some corn flour or maki da atta and made some of those rotis for me at my home. This inspired me to actually purchase some sarson at the Farmer’s Market. I had previously inquired of a farmer selling it what that curious bunch of greens was and he had said, “Indian mustard” and I thought, “How weird! It’s called Indian Mustard and I have never heard of it.” I had even asked him what could be cooked from it and he had said something about sauteing it. I guess you could eat it like that. After she actually made it for me and I got to see what a bunch looks like at the Indian store to which I had taken her along, a light bulb went inside of me, but of course ‘Indian Mustard’ was sarson!! How ignorant of me!
The other things she helped me with was cleaning – from sinks and bathroom mirrors (never asked her to do toilets) to the fridge’s outside and inside to straightening the pantry out (she volunteered to do both these), to vacuuming to making beds to mopping small floor spaces that are tiled (all rooms are carpeted except for the entry way, bathrooms, and kitchen). She was amazing at everything she did. She put effort into all the tasks and chores I assigned her and was a HUGE help in more ways than I could have imagined when I first hired her. In addition, she babysat both kids when I had two dental appointments, on many occasions babysat Baby E freeing me time to go to the library’s storytime, COSTCO, or run other errands with just Toddler J (TJ) reminiscing the times we did those things before E was born. Twice at a library’s storytime, she hung out with Baby E in her stroller while I got to give all my attention to TJ.
She was a great hire and I feel so glad I found her or rather she found me, that she was diligent and persistent enough to help me get my act together and make sure I hire her. She was honest, sincere, and trustworthy. We got along well and I really needed her to help me get my sanity back after my in-laws left a month, or three weeks after E was born and she did. Her presence helped me slowly ease into a routine and get used to having the sounds of two kids around. Even though it was a business relationship, I hope to stay in touch and hire her in the future should a need arise.
June 1st was her last day.
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Featured Photo Credit: Michael via Flickr