the unnatural mother

embracing mother-ing and all its glory – from wet diapers, spit-ups, tantrums to first smiles, hug-a-bugs and sweet cuddles

What is a Yaya? May 29, 2012

Filed under: Parenting — reeseyenko @ 5:36 pm
Tags: , ,

Defn. A human being whose job is to take care of another mother’s baby or child. Care includes feeding, putting to sleep, playing, teaching, ensuring proper hygiene, doing laundry and whatever else needs to be done to satisfy the baby or child. The amount of care given depending on mother’s absence. The child may be an infant from newborn to 1 year, toddler or a child.

I’ve been a mother for almost 6 years. And with that comes my experience with different yayas. So far, I think I’m lucky to have had only a handful of yayas along the way and that almost all of them I still keep in touch with one way or another. Yet, I just need to write about this topic because my perception and dealings with them is somewhat…. atypical.

Let me further expound on the definition.

They are human beings as well. Need I explain? We are of the same make and model in the eyes of God. We need the same things – food, shelter and clothing. We yearn for the same things – love, pleasure, rest. We miss the same things – family and friends.  We make the same mistakes – fall in love with the wrong person, lie about our leaves and punctuality, slack off at work. Yes, we are the same.

They have a job. They work. Just like us. But unlike most of us, they leave their families for months or years just so they can work. They work for a meager P3000 a month and if they are lucky, P4000 or P5000 is a great monthly salary. 3K for what kind of work? Oh, I admire the patience and stamina of yayas. I’m telling you this, I cannot for the life of me do what they do day in and day out. They wake up at 5am (in our house) to stay with the sleeping kids while we prepare to leave for the office and they feed, give vitamins, bathe, dress, change them, clean poops and vomit. Not to mention, play with them and run after them. These things you don’t learn with a college degree .

Who are they taking care of? Our babies – blood of our blood, born out of our womb, our precious gift.

That is why I take care of our yayas. Some people don’t understand  how we treat our helpers. How do we treat them? They eat the same food as we do – I remember we eat with them at the dining table when I was a kid –  my mom cooks or we buy a little “handa” (dish) for their birthday with ice cream or cake, I give them gifts for no special reason, include them or their children in my shopping for my children’s clothes,  provide them with toilettries regularly and most of my babies’ newborn clothes goes to their own children, nephews/nieces or grandchildren. I treat them as equals – if we buy a frappuccino, milk tea or gelato, we offer them the same. If we don’t have enough cash for everyone to have their own serving, we forego the treat for next time.

I read a post not long ago – just when I was still adjusting (healing is what I would call it) to the absence of one of my favorite yayas. I love how the author puts it “And yes, you can look for other employees because you can afford it. But it is not easy to find the right one. It is a relationship. Not just a transaction.” This is especially true for the yayas who take care of my babies when I come out of maternity leave and go back to work. Luckily, my 2 older kids have had only 1 yaya each since they were 3 months old to about 2-3 years old. This is a good enough track record considering that I have friends whose yayas only stay for 6 months or 8-12 months at best.

Reading the article above, I am no longer ashamed to say that I cried when my eldest son’s yaya left when he was 3 years old. Imagine that, she was my partner in taking care of my son as a first time mom and my husband was away for work for 6 months! She had her shortcomings – mood swings and petty lies – but all those I overlooked because she fit our family well. A few days before my second son’s yaya was set to leave, I was a nervous wreck – crying and panicking! She took care of SKY when I was busy pumping breastmilk and she gave him comfort and assurance when I got pregnant for the 3rd time and couldn’t take care of him. How dependent I became on her just because the situation forced me to.

Sure, we’ve had frustrating ones…the ones that blatantly lie – telling me that they have done this before but really haven’t …the ones that are just plain lazy – only lifting a finger when we are around …or the ones that don’t do as they are told – tell them to use warm water for the child but seeing that there is none, just uses the cold water.  Ah yes, these are the frustrating, irritating, maddening ones!

But also, we’ve had those that are honest, productive and genuinely compassionate. Don’t ask me how or where we got them because they just come from the oddest relations. I don’t have criteria or interview questions – I’ve long given up screening candidates. As long as they’re not sick and have criminal records, I’m going to give them a go.

I always say “kung kaya lang walang yaya, hindi na lang” (if we can handle it without a babysitter, we won’t get one). And now, I say this not only because of the difficulty in getting good help but also because of the emotional attachment that comes with hiring someone to help take care of your loved ones. Take care of your yayas because they take care of your children.

My 2nd son and his yaya


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