March 16, 2011

"maid" of honor

So its about time I talk about this beautiful woman.  Meet Fu Xin Mei (last names precede given names in this culture).  Xiao Fu, as we call her (loosely translated "Miss Fu") is our domestic hired help.

Feels weird to put it that way, since a better description would be member of our family, but I will call her our hired help for the purpose of this blog post.

Yes, I am aware of the fact that you, who are more than likely helping us be here, probably don't have domestic help.  That is why I have not been quick to talk about Xiao Fu.  Now I wish to explain why she is in our lives.
1.)  Cultural sensitivity.  The wealthy in this culture (the fact that we have an automatic clothes dryer bumps us into this category) are expected to employ those with less oportunities.  Not to do so would be viewed as selfish, and the validity of our lives here could be compromised.  MORE INFO:  Xiao Fu prepares food for her family in a kitchen that she shares with her neighbor, she has no refrigerator, and we are pretty sure she uses a communal bathroom.
2.)  Who wouldn't?  If you could pay someone a dollar and a half per hour to clean your toilet and scrub your floors and dust your furniture, wouldn't you?  And that is a GREAT wage for her.
3.)  Her presence in our home is the only way the kids and I have acquired any language at all.
4.)  The term "domestic duties" takes on a whole new meaning when you have no dishwasher and your kids go through three outfits a day because their playground is basically a big spittoon and your fruits and vegetables need more than a quick rinsing on account of the fact that the farmers use human waste fertilizer.  No joke.
5.)  There is no Stauffer's Lasagna, if you know what I mean.  If we are going to eat, from scratch is absolutely the only option.

When I was pregnant with Brave and heaving my guts out every day, she was the one holding my hair and stroking my back.  If we get bad news from back home and hit our knees, she is right there with us, crying with us.  She has seen me at my worst, and has only grown to love me in spite (or perhaps because) of it.  Our relationship is almost entirely non-verbal, but it has taught me the power of a look and a touch and a gesture of true kindness.  She is my "employee" by definition but we are equals.  Two women born in 1980 on opposite sides of the world, both trying to make it through the day smiling.

If/when we ever leave this place, the grief I shall feel in parting with Fu Xin Mei will walk with me for the rest of my life.