I was raised by maids. All kinds of maids. Indonesian, Vietnamese, Filipino. Those who tattle-tale. Those who cook brilliantly. And those who don’t. For as long as I could remember, I had a maid, and I still do.
Growing up, my relationships with my maids were all, quite frankly, pretty awful. For one thing, they were the ones who I blamed for everything that went wrong in my life.
Whenever I couldn’t find my toys, my blanket, my hair tie, my textbook, I would ask, blame, and demand that they find them for me. And sometimes, my demands would be really ridiculous, like “Omg! Can you help me find my retainers? I’m pretty sure I wrapped them in a tissue and left them in my right pocket! I hope you didn’t just wash my jeans without checking the pockets!”
Or whenever I was late for school, “Didn’t I tell you many times to pour ice water over me or hit me with a bat if I can’t get up? Please do so next time! I don’t want to be late again!” That was middle school by the way. But many times when it was clearly my fault, my forgetfulness, me being irresponsible, I wouldn’t admit it. Having maids ever since I was just four has only nurtured my egotistical nature: I was the “little master” of the house, so of course, I was always right.
With the help of a maid, I never really needed to do much at home. I never needed to set the alarm, make my bed, or clean my room. When I was young, I never had to tie my own hair, put on my own socks, or carry my own backpack to school. Everything was done for me. I was also never asked to do any chores, so I’ve never done any major ones in my life except once when I washed all the dinner plates. And it was a big, big deal. I really grew up feeling entitled to all the world’s privileges, ones that I don’t really deserve.
It wasn’t until my junior year when my mom announced that we would no longer be hiring maids that I started to panic and truly appreciate having maids. “Mom, you can’t do this now! Who’s going to wake me up in the morning at like four if I need to? This is my junior year! The hardest and the most important year of high school! And my future depends on it!” I really started to worry about what life would be like without having maids and all the inconveniences and little things to worry about on top of school. Life would be chaotic, that’s it.
It’s not that I never appreciated having maids. It’s just that I never really cared to be responsible for my own self and considerate towards them. Even though it turned out that my panic was an unnecessary one and that my family still continued to hire maids, my mini-heart attack really forced me to reflect upon my past actions and attitudes. I realized that I needed them even though I shouldn’t. I realized that I needed to learn to always be thankful and considerate to those around me, especially those who are here to make my life easier.
But more importantly, I realized that it’s our (those who have maids at home) job to make their lives easier too! Our job to make their working environment a comfortable one. And yes, many of them do have dreams other than providing for their families at home. The goals of my fourth Indonesian maid were to get married one day, buy a few acres of land, and start a grocery store. And I couldn’t be happier when my mom told me that she had accomplished all her goals after she returned to Indonesia last year.
As for my current maid Vivian, she wishes that one day she could start her own restaurant as well as travel around Asia. And I will help her make her wish come true.