Monday, June 8, 2009

Have you Seen this Woman? The Great Finding Mary Quest

Have you seen the woman on the right?

That's Mary.

She was our nanny-cook-househelp-gardener extraordinaire in a former life, before we moved to NZ. She was practically family. She did the housework, cooked our meals, played games with Pilar, planted trees and other stuff in our garden, did the laundry, made our beds. She was fairly easy-going, loved to talk (oh how she could prattle on and on) and was patient with our daughter. Over time she morphed from "Yaya Mary" (Nanny Mary) to "Ate Mary" (Ate meaning older sister in Tagalog).

Sadly, I don't know where Mary is now. And I don't even know her last name (It's terrible, I know! The woman had been with us for YEARS!) Last I heard, she had gone back to her province to her folks. But she could be anywhere now - working with another family, living abroad, or even married with kids of her own.

I often think of Mary and what's become of her. She often comes to mind when my day gets shot to hell and I feel the grind of clearing up and cleaning up and chasing after toddlers and getting meals on time and all that sort of stuff getting on top of me. I am by nature, a person who goes by schedule. I plan out my week days ahead. I like order and my space and on most days quiet so I can think or write. I don't do very well with a lot of chaos and noise, which of course is what one would expect from a gaggle of kids (did I mention I help look after my sister's children? Did I also mention she lives just two doors down from me? and that she has 5 kids under 9? Yup, you heard me right. I'm not sure how she does it day after day. The lady is a saint.)

So anyway.... yesterday wasn't so bad, but it was quite busy. In fact, no disrespect to the 3rd commandment, it didn't feel like a Sunday at all. It was quite full on. I guess I must have felt totally guilty about the day before, when - aside from a quick jaunt to the grocery store -- my whanau (that's family for you non-Maori speaking folks) did absolutely nothing but veg in bed; gorging on Bluebird Chips, popcorn, muffins that Jaime and I baked for Pilar's morning tea (more of that below) and a full bar of Cadbury's milk chocolate (speaking of which, have you seen their latest commercial? I don't know what it's got to do with chocolate, but it is hella funny. Check it out here.)

So Sunday.... I found myself overcompensating in various ways throughout the day. There was laundry to be done (it just never goes away!), proper meals to be fixed, babysitting duties (my sister had asked if I could watch over her youngest for a couple of hours.), whole wheat banana chocolate muffins to be baked - which were fabulously healthy and yummy (Click here for the recipe from Sister's Cafe. ) I did some minor interior decorating by re-arranging the kitchen (little things make me very happy - I after all have been harping on about how tiny the kitchen is. But I made space - and now there's a corner for me to sit and read recipes or surf the net; and for Pilar to have breakfast while I go about my business in the morning. Yay! ) By 5pm I was getting a bit worn-out though. My sister's baby was okay the first hour, but by the second she had become a deadly combination of hungry, sleepy, on the edge with separation anxiety and totally freaked out by my husband's deep voice. She began wailing like a banshee and none of us could get her to stop, not even Santiago who would lean his head against her in his version of a comforting hug. Pilar tried distracting her with games. I moved her to the room across and put on lullaby music and the aquarium light. Still, no dice. I was getting more and more frustrated, especially as my son needed his nap too and refused to just go to sleep. He started wailing too, and there appeared to be no end in sight for both toddlers who by now had gone into full-keening mode. I was afraid the neighbours would call child services on me.

In moments just like these Jaime and I have a running joke between us wherein we call out Mary's name, just like we used to those years ago. Of course we know she'll never come, but it takes us back to the days when she was around and ready to lend assistance at a moment's notice. Mary was the Godsend when we needed our own version of time-out to sleep, to read, to watch some TV uninterrupted, to go out on dates and movie nights, to re-charge.

Now, unless family is around to take over (Gramma! Lola! please come back!), there really is no one Jaime and I can relinquish duties to except each other, which of course works if you just want time to yourself, but doesn't quite cut it when you want to do stuff together. The saying is indeed true: Good help is difficult (and expensive) to find.

So Mary, wherever you are, I hope you're doing just fine. And if this should ever reach you (who knows? stranger things have happened!) we're sorry we ever took you for granted. I'm sorry (and so ashamed) I ever made fun of your funny accent. I'm sorry we couldn't take you along with us when we moved. And I'm sorry we never really got to thank you for all you did for us. Know that you are thought of by a family miles away, and that you haven't been forgotten. You are missed!

Okay I'm putting this out there...

We'd like to know where Mary is... and someone you know may know where exactly that is!

Help us find Mary!

If you do, I'll send you this super cute Curly Kiwi doll. It squawks when you hug it!
Not to mention you'll earn the gratitude of a thankful family.

Leave me a message or email - and tell me how to find Mary!


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