An Ode to Norma

IMG-20130701-00307No South African mommy blog would be complete without mentioning the wonderful help we have when it comes to caring for our precious children.

One of my friends who’s currently living in Sydney visited us recently and wrote a post about how lucky we are here in our beautiful country – and I couldn’t agree more.

The relationship between a domestic worker and her employer is often a complicated one. When I lived in the UK I remember British friends finding it very odd that we had people who helped us clean our houses and look after our children – and I completely understand that.

What I tried to explain to them is that we are providing a livelihood to individuals and in some cases entire families. And that in most cases the relationship is (and should always be) built on trust and mutual respect.

Norma, this is why we love you:

  • I can head off to work confidently, knowing that my children will be excellently cared for in my absence. As hard as it is letting someone else look after your kids, the fact that we even have a choice in South Africa makes us extremely lucky. I can be a Mom but I can still pursue a career and this is completely because of you.
  • You’re reliable. I sometimes (okay often) call you “my other husband” or “my wife”. You can help me with all the admin that running a house requires, taking a lot of pressure off me.
  • Our children adore you. Sure, they know who their parents are but you are their friend and carer. They squeal with delight when they see you and that’s because you shower them with love.
  • You sacrifice a lot. I’m well aware that you left family and friends behind in Zimbabwe and that the income you earn takes care of them.
  • Your sense of humour. When Rachel copies a swear word she heard from us or lets out a big burp it really appeals to your (usually dry) sense of humour.

I fully appreciate that you do one of the most IMPORTANT jobs in my world, taking care of Rachel and Ben when we’re not around. So thank you, Norma – I’m not sure what the Mountains would do without you.

If you’re looking for some advice on finding a domestic worker I recommend reading Matt’s excellent article (on his blog Small Roar) which includes guidance on salaries, interview questions and other useful hints & tips.

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5 thoughts on “An Ode to Norma

  1. Thank you for this post Belinda. All three of my children didn’t have to been dragged out of bed on a cold winters morning in the dark to go to a day mother or a creche because of the wonderful nannies that they had. I would often leave for work with them still snuggled up in their cots, a hot bowl of mealie porridge waiting for them when they finally woke up. As babies their nanny would bath them at lunch time in winter when it was warm in a plastic tub in the sun in their rooms, they would enjoy treats of home made vetkoek and mince,and putu,sudza or pap (depending where you from) and chicken feet around a communal bowl. They all have very fond memories of enjoying these very South African experiences with someone who loved them unconditionally. My life was so much easier and happier because of the wonderful women who have passed through my life.

  2. Hi Belinda,

    Lovely to read your kinds words and thoughts about Norma! Thanks also for including a shout out on my domestic help article, I hope others find it helpful.

    Cheers

    Matt

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