Off to the Sea Side ….

{Image taken by me, in Sandbaai}

This weekend I am heading out to Hermanus to visit my mom and spend some time lazing around and have “treated” myself to a long weekend.  I really, desperately, need some down time, and just not to feel like I am rushing from one thing to the next and always on my way to something, or late for something.  I need some downtime, with just nothing to do.

Well, that is the picture I have at any rate.

Kennith is away in Germany/Bolivia or where ever, and I thought it might be good to take a long weekend and just have a laze around.  I am hoping to try to spend some non-stress time with the kids, and try to just “be present” – I have been a bit sucky at that as of late, and realised it again this morning on the drive to school that I seem to be living passed my kids and not really savouring the important stuff I should be.

My kids love being at my mom’s house.  They run around, get dirty, Connor over doses on fishing, Georgia plays doll house until she can’t anymore, and generally Isabelle spends her time trying to get someone to give her more Flings.

Again that is the plan of how I see it going – the vision if you will.  I feature in the role of a person sitting on an outside chair reading my book with a chilled glass of Chenin Blanc balancing on one of those plastic kid’s chairs.

I am taking my rather thick book of “Henry VIII King and Court – Alison Weir” along with me, and hope to move my way through nearly 700 pages of Tudor History – it’s a good time to me – I also have a back up book just of Sherlock Holmes in the event that Henry does not bring his A Game, one never knows with Henry, he is a bit tempestuous and erratic at times.

I am also taking along our new maid Privilege along for the weekend.  Yes, I do understand how “white colonial” that sounds.

Privilege does appear be a winner-winner-chicken-dinner.   But I am trying not to get too attached or too excited, things have been known to go badly quickly as of late, so I am just breezing along.

This week she has really been great, and her only “minus” appears to be that she cannot cook, but I can teach that.  She cleans really well, and is quiet, and has managed to pack/repack and sort out the kids clothing cupboards already – brilliant!!

On Saturday I am going to a wedding, so am leaving my three kids with my mom – no doubt she will have developed a facial tick, and be drooling a bit out of the corner of her mouth by the time I get back – but that is also why I wanted Priviledge to come along.

I am really looking forward to the wedding.  It is at Moggs in the Hemel and Aarde Valley which is going to be spectacular, and I know it is just going to make me cry – all weddings do.  Congratulations Ian and Sue!!

{Image taken by me, Sue with her flashing light bling on her Hen’s Night}

I feel relieved that we may be on the right track with our nanny/domestic helper/mommy’s side kick, and I have great aspirations of this weekend going well.

I do want some time for my brain to just slow down this weekend, and hopefully get some sleep — I feel like the walking dead.

Hope your weekend is good, where ever you may be and when ever it gets started!

Hiring domestic help ….

As you may know, Pepe has left us/me – she wants to bring her daughter down from Zimbabwe, and she needed to find a sleep out role, and my house cannot function without a person sleeping in, it is just too chaotic, and does not work.

Of course I am sure I will never find someone as good as Pepe, and I will embark on a journey of hiring that will kill me.

I did several interviews, short listed three ladies and had Kennith interview the “final three.”

I knew who I felt was the “top choice” but I am aware that often my decisions regarding “domestic staff” is quite emotional, so I wanted Kennith to have his 2 cents, and make a decision and then I could see if he agreed with my choice.

He selected T, which I thought was a bit odd as I felt P was a clear winner.  But I decided to go with his decision, and brought T in for a trial.

I told her it would be a one month trial, but after three days I started to get very nervous that we had made a “not great” decision.

T was lovely, and keen, eager and all of those lovely things, but she was unfortunately not bringing much in the way of experience to the party.  I felt I could train her, as she was really keen, but it would take at least 6 months of day-to-day training to get there, and I was not sure I had that in me.

She was lovely with the kids, and the kids really liked her.

Thursday night we decided to make some hasty decision-making.

We (translate into Kennith) would tell T that we were going to have some people in over the weekend, and that she should go home, and also that we were going to end the trial so that we could trial someone else.

Really, there is just no way to put that nicely – and it was as awful as it sounded.

I did not want to face her as I felt really awful – as she was lovely, but just not quite 100% right for us – I just did not want to see T sad.  I asked Kennith to tell her and then I would come back from work after T was gone, and then at least I would not feel so bad as I did.

It did not go that way.  Traffic and various other factors resulted in T being stuck on the side of the road with her huge bag, and me going to collect her and take her to the station.

I then had to make small talk for the drive from home to the station.  I managed to have a fully fledged one-sided conversation about bicycles.  All the way to the station.

I do not do small talk.  I do not do awkward situations in small spaces.  I really hate this process of “trialing” domestic staff and I feel responsible for everyone who comes in to contact with me.

I dropped T off at the station, and I think I was having a bit of a sob on her behalf.  It was all really horrible.

She is so lovely, and I knew that she had an “experience” gap, but the experience gap just started to feel a bit insurmountable, and I started to wonder if I was making my life more complicated when in actual fact having domestic help should make it simpler.

Saturday I got P in and then also asked Tarisai (who I have used on a day-to-day basis) to come in and “train” P.

The two worked like a tornado – and cleaned things I did not know could be cleaned.  P is lovely and by Sunday I was already feeling that this was the better decision.

So this week is a new week with P, and so far it is going really well.  This entire idea of finding someone who can work/live in your house, and you have to trust in your space, with your children, with your cheese, is fraught with stress and anxiety – and at a certain point you need to sort of fall back in to it and trust blindly.

The hunt for the new Pepe!

Pepe has left me.  Try to picture me in a hair shirt, throwing myself to the floor sobbing – uncontrollably.  That is a pretty accurate picture of how things are.  I have managed to hide it well with an outward guise of  “disinterest and calm…”

Do you know how difficult it is to keep up a facade of serene yen garden when actually you are going: “holy harry, and fk a duck, what the hell am I going to do now!!” but screaming inside and using really bad cuss words?

It is a bit of a challenge.  But I have “blank face, non fussed” pretty taped right now.

I approached a nanny agency for assistance – they came back to me after a week, with no.thing!  Clearly they were going to be terrific in solving my problem.  To be honest I have really lost the “buzz” of agencies some time back.

I used to use this phenomenal agency Marilyn’s Maids (initially in Milnerton then moved to Sea Point).

Marilyn was trained by the KGB (I am sure) and had a degree in “not taking shit from shenola” – damn she was good.

You called her, explained what you thought you wanted, she then told you what you actually need, a week later you were sitting in her office interviewing three “perfect” candidates.  End of the day you had a new maid – worked every time.

Marilyn went to the UK, sold her agency to someone else.  They = suck = me at a bit of a loss.

I have tried a few other agencies since then, but in general they are all a bit not great.

I really do have a mild urge to start a nanny or domestic agency. I seriously get so little joy from the ones I deal with and I think based on my ‘in the trenches” experience I might just have an inkling of how desperate moms are to find someone who is not going to steal their baby and sell the family cutlery.  But more on that later.

So without too many options left to me, I decided to take matters in to my own hands, and after asking around if anyone knows anyone – I think it is called the “nanny network” I decided to run an advert on gumtree.

I wrote the advert, and placed it.  I DID make a gumtree 101 error, and added my telephone number to the advert.  Shall we just say that was a critical error in judgement.  I decided to switch my phone off for a week, as it was total chaos.

But that being said, I did several telephonic interviews.  I am actually not too sucky at interviewing and getting information: 1. Because I am a bit anal about information.  2.  I have a recruitment background, so that helped.  3: I feel like I have been interviewing “home staff” for about 12 years …..

I did interviews last week – I met the ladies in public places and we did one on one interviews, and I also did not want to put myself in a situation where I would be at risk.  Public places + a bit of caution = win situation.

This weekend I did second interviews, as I wanted Kennith’s opinion, and also wanted his buy in.

It went well.  I liked all three ladies I had shortlisted and I thought that either of the three would be right.

Kennith selected the one I had put in as a bit of an “outside chance” as she had attributes that I thought would be useful, but she was missing a whole host of experienced, but I saw promise in her situation and her manner.

In the end that is who I have offered the position to.  Granted I did say it was on a one month trial.  She arrives late this afternoon, and then we see how it goes from there on in.

I am apprehensive as I start to doubt whether this was a good decision.

I am fraught with worry as I am concerned that the safety of our family does rest to a degree with a person who I only know in principle.

But, I followed a good selection and interview process.  I asked great questions.  I have the correct documentation, and really there is not much else to do but “suck it and see it” and this point, and hope she fits in, and we fit with her, and well everything is Mary Poppins.

Then I watched the start of “The Help” (I had read the book…) and I started to feel a rather large set of “white guilt….” about employing a maid.

The one where the nanny left …. and the mommy went (more) loony ….

Pepe’s last day was yesterday.  I dealt with it by not dealing with it.  I knew the day was coming, but decided not to talk about it, to think about it, or to mentally prepare for it.

I really felt dreadful yesterday as I knew it was the day – and even ignoring it, would not change the fact that it was “the day.”

I really felt in a bit of a state yesterday.  I was sad.  I was anxious.  I was uncomfortable.  I was afraid.  I felt panicky and stressed all day.

Day ended and I got home.  Pepe had all her stuff packed up, and I just felt awkward and as much as I did not want her to go, I did want her to leave so I could then go “okay that is finished…”

I went to drop her off at the station, and I felt very sad.  I hate awkward situations, and can’t do people leaving or people dying.  It is like I can’t sort through the reactions and emotions to find the “right” one, so it makes me feel jumpy, edgy, itchy and irritable, because I feel scattered.

Left the station and I felt really sad.  I had taken Connor along for the drive.  He decided to lighten the mood by talking about the death penalty.  So instead of driving quietly and thinking about Pepe, and how I will cope without her, I spoke about the legal system, the death penalty, which countries use the death penalty, and described the three ways (that I know of) to execute someone – I had hanging, electrocution and lethal injection.

Sobering stuff.

We got home and we were going to have dinner with a friend celebrating her second 40th birthday.  I probably should have shut myself up in my room, and sat there quietly.  My brain was not really able to do a social situation, when I felt this panicky, stressed and anxious.  My head was in full “panic” and “scared” mode.

I am really upset that Pepe is not with us anymore – this is “the thing” that I have worried about for four years.  Always worried she will leave me and my life will start to fall apart, one brick at a time.

Now she has left …. and I glance around in horror … waiting for the crumbling ….

 

Yes, I realise I am being a bit melodramatic, but I am not having a fabulous day.

All quiet on the home front … for now …

I am not convinced my chat yesterday with Pepe was not received with joy and wonder.

Today she came in and I am not sure if I felt a sense of “something is off” or that I was just really uncomfortable with the entire situation.  But I was and am uncomfortable, and I slink around her, as I wait for the bomb to drop.

The bomb in this analogy is her resigning.

Pepe carried on as normal today, though I could feel there was a tension in the air.’When I am nervous and really tense I start to sound chipper and perky.  Me and chipper and perky are not a good combination and would unsettle anyone.

I took Dexter to the vet early this morning, as he was now poo’ing and voming and both included blood.

Vet did some blood work and had to go and “get a stool sample…” None of the results show anything, but Dexter was given two injections, a full check over, more deworming tablets, and three sets of medication which I need to give him to try to stabilise his tummy.

I have also put him on Eukanuba Puppy Digestion kibble and we will see how that fares.  I will wait 24 hours and if he is not better then he may need to do a vet+drip+24 hours stunt.

I hate that I feel so uncomfortable around Pepe.  I keep “waiting and expecting” her to tell me that she will be resigning, or what ever is worse.

I know I may have sounded glib yesterday, but seriously if Pepe leaves me I will be what ever the term is when you pass devastated and you just ran past gutted.  My little world, he would crumble – if you had seen me go nuts before, it is nothing in comparison to how I look when I get a Dear Janet letter from my domestic help.

On another matter – Isabelle went to her “school for an open day” today.  She had her outfit on, her hair in pigtails, her pink K-Way kids back-pack on and off we went to school.

I love the school, and I am thrilled she is there.  There were a lot of really new shiny moms, who asked questions like: “If my child is upset will you sms me … so I know how he is doing?”

“What should I pack in her lunch box?”

Shiny happy moms make me nervous, so I suddenly got really interested in a box of plastic dinosaurs.

Isabelle did not disappoint, and got into a little shoving match with a little girl name Lea over a little wooden toy.  In Isabelle’s defense, Lea did push first, but Isabelle was not going to be outdone, so came back with a might shove.  But Lea, who I was immediately fond of, shoved Isabelle back – and Isabelle was a good 5kg heavier than this little petite girl.

As Lea’s  dad pulled her away from Isabelle, Lea kicked out her leg to give Isabelle a kick in the shins.  I felt a bit more secure that other kids might also “not play well with others…” so that did reassure me a bit.

Officially she starts school on Tuesday.  I am thrilled for Isabelle and her new school.

However I am a bit distracted with mentally trying to make plans as I really think that Pepe is going to tell me to shove my job and abandon me.  Is it too soon to start skimming through gumtree??