Help Wanted!

I am setting off to Hajj tomorrow and am excited, nervous and grateful beyond belief to have the opportunity to perform this pilgrimage for the first time. So I will not be updating my site for the next week.

Before I go, a reader of my blog gave me a great subject to write about when he eloquently left a few comments after some of my entries. His entries were so beautifully written that I had to trash two of them because the level of maturity in them would have been too much for this site. (one of the entries consisted of two words… oink oink… I’ll let you readers find out which one of them it was lol).

Anyway, needless to say, I am being sarcastic. This reader suggested that because I and all other Saudi mothers (according to him) have help in our homes we are not good mothers anymore. He also went on to say that we should go back to the way our grandparents were and actually care for our children ourselves instead of letting the maids, nannies and drivers do the parenting for us. And that if we were to suddenly disappeared, the millions of little Saudi children would be none the wiser because we do not actually play any role in their lives.

I started thinking of his points and decided to discuss them here and ask you mothers out there who read my blog to please join and tell me your thoughts. Do you think having someone help, wether it be a nanny, maid, driver or cook make you a worse mother? When I lived abroad the idea of getting help is a must for all the western mothers I knew. Be it for reasons of work, for practicality, or for peace of mind. When it’s one person caring for 3 children and a husband and doing laundry and cooking and cleaning the house they all agree that having help makes them better parents and spouses since they are happier, less stressed and less tired at the end of the day. All the mothers in the neighborhood I lived in had some sort of childcare help or help at home regardless of how much money they made. This could be help from their mothers or mothers in law coming over a few times a week, or having a “nanny share” where two families employ one nanny to care for their kids and split the cost. Some of them send their kids to day care, some are just relived to have a play date where they can send their kids to their neighbors for a few hours.

I know there are people who do not pay attention to their children, who see them for a few minutes a day and let the nanny do everything from homework to bed time to taking care of them when they are sick. These people my darling readers would be just as neglectful if they did not have help. And these people are not the majority unless you are suggesting there is something fundamentally wrong with all Saudi women. Then that is another subject that can be discussed somewhere far away from here.

I have help and have had help since my children were born and I am a better mother for it. And every mother I know and have met would tell you that they would welcome any help they can get any time they can get it. A mother does not have to do every single thing for her child from laundry to cooking to dressing every day of their life to be a good mother. And any mother who does not care for their child when they need them would not turn into a loving caring mother if the nanny suddenly disappeared.

The reader suggested that things were different in the generations of our grandmothers. They certainly were! Take me back to those days and I wouldn’t need a nanny. I would be surrounded by my sisters, my sisters in law, my mother in law, even my eldest children would all be helping me to raise this child. I would live in a community that would not think twice of taking my children in and raising them as their own if anything were to happen to me. I would have had an army of mothers to help and I would have helped them. So he is correct in saying it was different then.

He also doesn’t take into account that mothers work now. What are they meant to do when they work? not work? If you are a working father you are not expected to come home and cook dinner and give the baby a bath and wash the clothes and clean the house. Of course not! you have worked all day! you poor thing. But with working mothers they are still expected to keep their other job of being a mother and a wife. So when you are a mother and a wife come and talk to me about not needing help and being a proper family.

The average salary for a Filipino or Malaysian nanny or maid here in Saudi is low and almost everyone can afford to employ someone. I have heard from expats who have said they employ people here for that reason and that if it were the same back home they would not hesitate. So in conclusion readers, it is a shame his life experiences seem to have been tough on him, and maybe his experiences taught him that having help at home breaks up the traditional family. But I would love to know what you think? Please do leave comments and answer the poll I am truly interested in what you all think about this.

15 comments

  1. Mashallah..thats really great..May Allah accept your Hajj.
    I hope you have a blessed and smooth Hajja Inshallah.
    Please pray for me to finish my studies soon :(

    Take care
    Angie

  2. I love reading your blog. I also read your interview in American Bedu. My husband sent it to me.
    Although I have no idea how to express this correctly – May you have a blessed Hajj.

    I read your experiences with true interest and look forward to more.

  3. I am still single unmarried and I work full time and am working on my Masters degree at night. I live in my own home which I bought and even alone I must do everything which feels like a burden!

    I work in a rich area of town and when I walk during my lunch break I see all kinds of nannies from south America or eastern europe pushing the strollers of the women who are lawyers and doctors… and it leaves me thinking… as a western woman who is “modern” I can leave my child so I can persue my career and I call myself a feminist… but I have taken away that same freedom from the woman now caring for my child… I have merely handed off the traditional role to another woman so I can act more like a man, no?

    These working women have to spend the whole day with my children rather than with their own children and while I come home refreshed and eased… these women go home tired and worn to their own families… or left their families in other countries, children who miss them… just so I can be a modern woman.

    You know I say I am a feminist but I think about these things sometimes. I do not know the answer but I ponder the role of class and money and feminism… social justice and equality…

    • I have thought about that too. I spoke to a woman from the Philippines and found out she had a 6 month old baby at home. She left him with her mother in order to come and work as a nanny. I couldn’t imagine leaving my children for that long, but I never had to.
      It’s kind of the way then world is I guess. Yes working mothers are just passing the role onto someone else, and maybe sometimes they don’t have to. But if they didn’t, than that particular nanny would have been out of a job and her children, although she might be exhausted by the time she gets home, would probably not have the same opportunities they would if their mother didn’t work.
      I am not sure what the word feminist entails these days but I feel like in the west, from what I have seen,there are a lot of pressures on women to do like the men do, while at the same time be perfect mothers and wives. I think still in the Arab world it is a valid choice for a woman to want to stay at home and be a mother without a time limit. Also, more work places are tolerant of mothers (I think) and more accommodating to things such as breast feeding. And again, all these rules get thrown out the windown if, for example, you want to work to get your kids in the best schools and colleges so you hire a nanny, or you have to leave your kids to work as a nanny because you want your kids to go to good schools and colleges.
      Side note, I don’t get the whole fuss of women and men are the same if that is what it means to be a feminist these days, we’re not! It’s like comparing apples and oranges, ok they are both fruit but that’s where the similarities cease.

      • I definately think it is a conundrum of our time. When I think about the past and women and men hunting and gathering, or small agriculture or weaving or keeping the home… women’s work became women’s work because they had to do the work which allowed then to keep the children at the same time.

        Before the wonderful invention of birth control it was up to God, luck, bad or good and women were at the mercy of pregnancies, babies children… while we have moved from that paradigm our societies have swung on the opposite direction in terms of making women have to make a choice. It does not have to be that way. Could you imagine every company every law office and hospital having their own child care center and working mom could visit on her breaks? Or one day the husband takes child the next the mom? We are woefully uncreative in solving the problems of our age!

        There is a middle ground where we do not have to choose or force that choice on others, but this all new, women have only had the pill (and in the US ) the right to vote in less than 100 years… we are all just finding our way in the dark about the best way to do things.

        You are right about the west. Here if you are “only a stay at home mom” other women tend to look down on them as maybe not smart enough or too lazy but the American Mom is so busy all the time being the perfect everything. It isn’t fair. Many American women dream of a life where they can keep the home and family but feel pressure by their husbands to work and be successful. Did you know in America the number one thing a man looks at when interested in a woman is her career and success? The pressure is so bad. Also women sometimes are very afraid of their husbands leaving them then if they stayed home without a career, how will they live? Alimony is a thing of the past and American men are quite resentful about giving anything to a woman he divorced even when she has kids. You hear American men complain about it all the time, “WHy get married, so she can take everything from me?” Its like most men don’t even want to get married anymore. I know for myself that is true. I have a boyfriend we live in different houses are independant but he doesn’t “believe in marriage” and he is not uncommon. I am giving him 5 months to change his mind! :)

        ok rant over ha

        • Lol Jenna loved reading that. I want to look into how working mothers cope here and if they feel pressure to work or more pressure to stay home with the kids “where a woman belongs”. Not being a working mother I don’t know. Plus the only pressure I have are my mothers stares anytime the subject of my not yet completed design degree comes up lol.

  4. If you are good it is good because having help in the house and actually she is as a part of the family , she sleeps in the house etc…, so you must be good too to this person and take care of her needs, but if you are bad the problem that you are bad with everybody in the house or simply with the weak ones, so help or not just be good and everything is ok.

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