In our house, I do the cooking, Alan does the laundry and the cleaning.. except the bathroom which is my turf. My laundry is now neatly folded on the bed, waiting for me to sort through them so I can put them away. If I were in Manila, we’d probably have a maid/s ready to do that for us, but we’re in New York, so we have to do it ourselves.
I do not really begrudge my life here in New York City for the lack of domestic help — I never really did domestic chores in Manila, so learning how to do them here primed me for the new responsibilities I had to face. It helps that my husband has his own share of work.
We are trying to pull in the stepson to do more, but having someone who has been so accustomed to being “served” instead of helping out take on household chores can be a challenge with a 15 year old. As it is, with the limited household chores on his plate, he already thinks he’s doing a lot for us. I find it hard to believe sometimes considering unlike his Dad and me, he was never accustomed to having others wait on him for his every need. In fact he had shattered my Mom’s long held view that children raised in the US were more responsible because of the absence of maids, because she witnessed firsthand how ill-equipped my stepson was in helping out in our small home.
As we would say, “nasa pagpapalaki yan..” (it is in the upbringing..) I wish our young people in Manila would realize how fortunate they are to have their yayas and maids. And how, despite that, they can take pride in learning to do chores even if they don’t have to do them, because it would serve them well here on this side of the world. I was a virtual princess back then, but when I got here, I knew how to set the table right, wash the plates to make sure there was no residue on the surface (that is why I insist on washing plates without gloves), and clean the bathroom and make sure the bathtub was sparkling clean so much so that I could lie down stripped to the skin in a luxurious bath on the bathtub floor.
I am already trying to teach Angel to put his toys away, although at 1year old, he isn’t exactly absorbing much. Then again, you can never start them early enough.