A few weeks ago I became a working Mum…….
Until work came along I had been a full-time Mum rarely leaving my daughter unattended. I was very indulgent in my time with her – exploring this new little person that was now part of our lives.
Quite honestly I hadn’t planned to take up work so soon but that it is not how things have panned out. Work that I could complete at home somehow found me and I reasoned that it would be manageable around my daughter’s nap times. Initially I did some editing work and as this came to an end one of my former employers in the UK offered me some routine hours. I am so lucky to be able to work from home – slipper clad, tea and biscuits in hand whilst typing at my computer screen. It feels really great to do something professional that keeps me busy when Nina doesn’t need me. It also takes my mind off wanting to go out and about in this difficult city.
With routine work now coming in, my husband and I discussed hiring a Nanny. I had spoken about this in a previous blog post and I really had not anticipated that we would take someone in to help look after our daughter. After all this is not common in the UK.
Initially I said no. How could I hand over part of my role? I was Nina’s Mum and I need to be with her WHENEVER she was awake – she NEEDED me, only me! Initially I was able to balance everything but as Nina hit her 6 month development milestone she did not always want to take a long nap or in fact ANY nap when work needed me. It soon became difficult to juggle it all – several times I sat with Nina asleep in her baby carrier as I typed away to complete my work. I wondered whether I ought to give up those few hours I’d agreed to and concentrate on being a Mum but, maybe selfishly, I really wanted to keep my job. I love my daughter but I also love having my own little slice of independence and sense of purpose. In the UK many Mums have to return to full-time work once their child is several months old. If I could manage to juggle things as they were I would be able to work whilst being at home for my little girl.
My husband asked me to reconsider the nanny situation. “After all”, he said “if it doesn’t work out we can think again”. So, we began searching for some extra help– three days a week at first then we realised we could do with another live-in lady. Nina means extra washing, cleaning, food preparation and constant ATTENTION. It was getting a lot for me on my own. Shaki, the girl who already lives with us already has a lot of work to do and it wasn’t fair to ask her to take on even more. The fact was we could all benefit from some extra help. We met several ladies and I was quite nervous introducing myself and Nina to them. They were going to hold and help care for my baby! I am not always the best judge of character so I reasoned that as long as the lady was kind we could help her understand how we take care of Nina.
We finally found a lady called kakoli and asked her to stay. Her employment with us is bittersweet as she found her way to us through very unfortunate circumstances. Beaten by her husband she was forced to leave her village with nothing but an extra set of clothes – she came to Dhaka to earn money leaving her three young sons in her village with their father and his second wife. I can’t imagine how she is feeling.
It is early days and I am still working hard to do most of Nina’s care because I want to. As the weeks have gone by I prefer to play and interact with the Nina when she is awake and stay up late to do my work. kakoli helps us with all the practical tasks – bottle washing, cleaning Nina’s clothes and so on. When she does watch Nina for a few minutes she has shown a lot of care towards our little daughter as I think that just maybe it eases her suffering to some degree. At times the difficulties people face in Bangladesh is so overwhelming – you just don’t know how to respond.
So this is our current work/life situation and we seem to be managing well in the chaos. Most importantly Nina is happy with her busy Mama and Kakoli is pleased to be in a friendly home and earning her own money. Her smile tells us so. She has just bought herself a mobile phone with her first wage and is able to speak to her sons whenever she wants to. I always ask her how they are though as I mother I know nothing can replace holding your babies close. Every day realities like this wake me up to how absolutely indifferent I was to the suffering of millions of people when I lived in my cosy bubble in the UK. With a lovely baby, a happy home, a job I enjoy and friends and support all around me when I need it I really am truly blessed and lucky to live the life I am living here in Bangladesh.