"Help! I need somebody. Help! Not just anybody. Help! You know I need someone. He-eh-eh-eh-elp!"
That is how I feel all.the.time. I never imagined a move overseas would throw me for such a loop. Especially since we had averaged a move every 2 years for the last 14 years in the States. I was a pro at moving, right? WRONG!
I am good at moving within the U.S., no doubt about it. Give me a week or so and we would have our church, library cards, and frequent shopper cards at the local grocer. We would have cruised around in the minivan and found a few parks, registered for voting and school, and found a pediatrician, doctor and dentist. You name it, I could get it done.
And then we moved here. To Singapore. And it feels like another planet. Prior to the move, every Singapore expat I met raved about how wonderful and beautiful and easy it was to live there. I think they must be suffering from some sort of tropical amnesia. Maybe it's just me, but I don't happen to find it easy at all.
Everything is a process. Banking, communication, government agencies, internet access, mail, shopping, transportation, doctors, school, parking. Each aspect of life is suddenly filled with unexpected difficulties and delays. Even play dates can bring me to tears, as I am inevitably 45 minutes late because I get lost every stinking time. Every day is a learning experience, and this momma is downright exhausted.
I never intended to raise four children in a big city. Before kids, it was a lot easier to be adventurous. With kids, give me the ease of the [boring] burbs any ol' day. Give me huge, free parking lots and quiet streets with big, empty sidewalks. Give me ramps and elevators for my strollers, reasonably priced food and drink, and well-marked public restrooms in every major store. Give me some one-stop shopping!
Now I know why people in big cities don't have large families. Now I know why every single time we go out on the street we are a spectacle to behold, with people constantly asking, "Four?!"
Yes! Four! Four children, people! They are all mine. Yes, I know it looks crazy. It is crazy.
So is coin laundry in teeny tiny washers and dryers in the basement of our building. Do you know how many loads of laundry this family creates every week?
Going to the grocery? Always an adventure. Not only is the food ridiculously overpriced (I'm talking $8 for a box of cereal!), but getting the groceries home is a challenge. I even bought a rolling cart because the bags were so heavy.
Tonight I rushed through the kids' bedtime songs with tears in my eyes. Because I desperately wanted to stay longer and cuddle with my babes, but I knew I couldn't. Because I still had three loads of laundry to finish and businesses to call (that were just about to open in the U.S.), and email to finally check. "I'm sorry," I choked, "Mommy doesn't have any extra to give tonight."
So here I am. Exhausted and humbled. Realizing I really, truly can't do it all. If I were in the States, it would be a different story. Here, I need help.
We have decided to hire a domestic helper. Wow! Never thought in a million years I would write those words. This from the girl who adopted her mother's motto: "If your house it too big for you to clean yourself, your house is too big!"
Well, mom, I'm crying, "Uncle!" I can't do it here. I just can't. I have to let go of my pride and accept some help for now.
Our decision is not just about the chores or errands. Aaron's real travel schedule has yet to begin. With his new job he will be traveling about 25% of the time. He's never been gone that much. I can't even imagine what evenings would be like alone here without another person in the house. I don't want to. What if a child had to be rushed to the hospital in the middle of the night?
Who would stay with the kids?
We interviewed a few candidates and settled on a sweet woman with a lovely disposition. The kids seem to like her. It will be interesting to see how we all adjust to another person living in our home. I won't share her details on here to protect her privacy, just as I hope she won't share information about our family online.
I felt I had to write about it a little bit anyway. Hiring a helper, someone who will move into our home and be a part of our daily lives, seemed to be a pretty significant detail I couldn't leave out of our blog. It's also good for my humility! Will keep you posted!