The house is a cluttered mess, I’ve barely been home to do more than sleep, the laundry is multiplying like rabbits, and the options for our many take-out menus are getting old.
What to do when your ayi has to move out of her soon-to-be-destroyed home, and she isn’t able to come to work?
It’s funny. When we first moved to Beijing, I simply could not get used to someone else being in our house, cleaning up after us and preparing our meals. I felt guilty. Gradually, I got used to the idea of having extra help and I began to appreciate that I could go out without worrying about the work to be done at home. I could sight-see, volunteer, take classes, and I’d happily come home to a clean house and an occasional dinner. As life gets busier – doesn’t it for all of us? – our ayi has become a huge blessing, one that I am grateful for and hope I’d never take for granted.
Then she told us they were tearing down her village. I wish I knew the specifics about why this is happening all around us, and how the hundreds of families cope with having to relocate so quickly. I don’t want to stand in judgment of it; I just want to understand it.
We’re all aware of the overwhelming tasks ahead of us when we move, so I am sure that our ayi’s family experiences the same types of stresses. Therefore, I shouldn’t be surprised that she’s not able to work this week, and perhaps not the next. I want be understanding – and I am – but I’m also amazed at how completely reliant I have become to have her help in running this house.
It is also these times, however, when I get a huge dose of reality and perspective. My life is busy; hers has been turned upside down. Most of what keeps me spinning with activity is my own doing, my own choice. She doesn’t have any choice. When I want to whine and complain and feel sorry for myself – and I admit to doing that a lot – I simply have to keep it real and remember that having an ayi is a privilege, not a right for my simply living in China.
So, the house can be less than perfect for awhile. I will re-introduce myself to the stove once again, or better yet, find new take-out menus for restaurants we haven’t yet explored. And no matter how much I’d like to, I haven’t forgotten how to do laundry.
The busyness of life goes on.
Charlotte Moreau is the new beijingkids Shunyi Correspondent. Keep an eye out for our roving reporter, and watch this space for more Shunyi happenings.