Domestic helps have always been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. My mother sees them as a necessity and has always had at least 2 around when I was growing up. Once I got pregnant for my first child, she began to bring up the talk of getting someone from the village. At first, I was skeptical as I wanted to be the kind of woman who could do it all without the extra help. My mother just laughed in my face and proceeded to make the arrangements. By the time the baby came, my mother came for “Omugwo”, bringing the help along with her. I tried to manage and not depend on the help so much.
My skepticism arose from all the stories you hear about them; the wickedness to the kids, spitting/urinating in food, stealing and the husband snatching. Whenever a group of married women with kids get together, the topic of domestic helps always seems to arise; the struggle to find a good one, the struggle to keep them and the struggle to monitor them.
I was recently with a couple of friends in a mutual friend’s house when her domestic help/nanny came to serve us drinks. Her help was dressed very simply, but clean in loose jeans and a T-shirt. As soon as the help was done and walked away, one of the ladies chirped “Why do you let your help wear trousers. Trousers are too seductive. Look at the way my help is dressed. You can’t trust these men o. You have to cover your help very well”
We all turned and looked over at her help dressed in “mary amaka” skirt, very baggy blouse and with “gorimakpa” shaved head. We understood her plight. We all knew about her husband’s extracurricular activities.
But we know that for a man with roving eyes, a shaved head and long skirts is no hindrance. He will see the “waist” wherever and however it is hiding. What if the wife had a hot younger sister? When the sister comes over, will she be forced to shave her head and wear long skirts? Just ensure that the sister dresses decently in your house and pray to God for a good man.
This mutual friend mentioned to me later that she had once caught her husband looking a little too long at her help. It frightened her deeply, mostly because; she didn’t want to let her help go. It had taken her a long time to find a good help and this one had been with her for a long time and was as valuable to her as a sister. She mentioned that if she was forced to choose between a cheating husband and her help, she would probably choose the help.
To her, a cheating husband was of no use. He had given her 3 children, but aside from his monetary contribution to their welfare, he took no active part in their upbringing. Her help had been with them for over 3 years and when my friend was at her bank job all day, the help cleaned the house, did the grocery shopping, picked the kids from school with the driver, fed and bathed them and did their homework with them.
She knew if the help left her, it would be hard to adjust. But she didn’t want to have to sacrifice her career because of a cheating husband who wouldn’t lift a finger to help with the housework or care of the children.
I had a secondary school classmate whose father had slept with the domestic help. He was a heavy womanizer and even tried to seduce some of his daughter’s classmates. Her mother overlooked it; till he slept with the help. Her mother was too ashamed and ran away from the house, leaving the children with their father. I don’t know how that story got out. But it was all we could talk about in school then.
A man who would sleep with the domestic help is worse than a dog. How hard can it be to just have self-control? Are there no women anywhere else that you just had to have that piece of a**. That is the highest level of disrespect you can give to your wife. A man that can bring shame of that magnitude to his wife and demean her to that extent deserves to be flayed.
This is what makes a lot of women overlook considering the character of the help and focus more on the looks. You cannot hide beauty no matter how much you try to it. All you can do is to ensure that she dresses decently (no extra tight clothes, no excessive makeup, no cleavage, stomach, lower back or thighs should be exposed). Let them wear trousers and a little make up when they are going out if they want to. Abi you no want make them marry too. I am not saying you should go and put someone that looks like Joselyn Dumas or Mercy Johnson or Toolz in your house o. Na you sabi.
Consider the character first. Monitor them for a while before you leave them with your kids. Don’t always leave them alone cooped up in the house with no one to talk to except the kids. That kind of monotony drives them away too. Treat them like you would treat a beloved sister and they will stay longer and treat your kids and your home right.
Photo Credit: Dreamstime | A J Cotton