I would rather be Sleepless in Seattle than “Help”less in Almaty, but here we are. Such is life. Well I am not helpless in the abla naari sense – but I am kind of “help” less i.e. sans help i.e. sans a domestic worker and a nanny.
I remember how happy I was after moving to Almaty – how easily everything had worked out including finding a great housekeeper, a nanny and so on… And then last year, when my family was planning to come to Almaty for a longer period, we easily got a visa for the nanny we wanted to bring with us to Almaty. In a jiffy. Just like that! But all that was probably beginner’s luck. Or maybe all that was pre-covid world when life was just much easier. Sigh!
Anyhow. After staying (read – getting stuck!) for almost a year in India, I was finally delighted to be able to come back to Almaty. It brought back some semblance of normalcy to an otherwise disrupted life. I brought with me two of my sons, Arnav and Abeer, confident that I will be able to manage them alone along with my work. And I wasn’t wrong. Perhaps a bit tough, but otherwise things were smooth. Both were going to their respective schools and managed themselves pretty well in the evenings even when I was on my office calls. Life was going on. Except of course, we missed the rest of the family.
The indispensable nanny!
My mum, husband (Kapil) and Anvay were to join us later, in about a month or so. This time, I knew we couldn’t do without a nanny. Those who have been reading my blogs will know that Anvay has special needs and needs full time care. Moreover, after his double hip surgery last year, he has been in a brace which increases his dependence even more. There was no way that we could manage a 4 year old without having full time help. Anvay is extremely attached to his nanny and the love is mutual. She dotes on him, is devoted to him and used to religiously do his therapy every day (due to Covid, since March of last year, Anvay has hardly been able to get any therapy sessions from outside).
But we weren’t worried. After much convincing, and because of her love for Anvay, his nanny for two years, Sandhya, agreed to step out of the comfort of her country. We started with applying for a passport for her. Perhaps that’s when we should have realized that the stars weren’t aligned. What is normally a 4-week process, took almost 2 months and a lot of frantic calls and calling in favours from our end. But finally, she received her passport! Hurray! It was just in time to apply for her visa so that she could come along with the rest of the family. We had crossed the BIG hurdle and now everything should have been easy. Obtaining a visa had not been a problem earlier. My mum got hers last year at the peak of Covid in both countries.
But NO! This time, I was informed that getting a visa this time was not going to be easy at all – in fact likely impossible. I remember the exact place I was at in my house, when I heard this news – and broke down. How the hell will we manage without her? My house help dropped in just then and was shocked to find me in a pool of tears. And then started the desperate race against time to try and get her a visa before the rest of the family was due to fly. Sometimes, things looked promising, but at others it did not. It was one step forward and another step backward.
I held out hope till the end, but finally realized that this is not going to happen. The family flew to Almaty, end of April, sans the nanny. All the running around did help us get a Letter of Invitation and I thought, its okay, she can join us in a few months. But between the second covid wave in India, fresh travel sanctions, absence of flight options, we continue to be in the same situation – running around, trying to get her passport stamped.
Nanny hunt begins!!
Of course, this meant that now we needed to look for a nanny locally. Apart from the very important fact that Anvay does not adjust easily with strangers, there was also the issue of language. It is one thing to communicate with your household help through google translate, but completely another to do so with a nanny, when you are trying to teach her how to understand the child and support him.
Anyhow, beggars are not choosers. The nanny hunt began. We were happy to find someone pretty quickly, but the happiness was a bit short lived. She was quite aloof, unsmiling face and treated Anvay almost like an object to be tended to. No surprises there, Anvay would cry with her most of the time and refused to eat from her. Eventually we had to let her go. The next one lasted two days. She was a little more friendly but her preferred position was sitting on our couch with her legs up and eyes glued to her phone, while Anvay engaged himself with his toys on the floor!
If you thought it was silly or weak to have broken down on hearing that Sandhya might not be able to make it (and the many crying bouts thereafter), let me tell you that the despair was not baseless. A child with special needs requires a lot of time and support – something that a working couple and an old grandmother cannot manage on their own. Anvay is 4, but he cannot walk, stand or sit on his own. He needs to be fed and bathed and is non verbal – which means that one needs to be able to understand his cues and be able to differentiate between the various sounds he makes. And a nanny who can do all this and understand him and make him feel loved and cared for – is priceless. Anvay now comes with a package deal – his nani (maternal grandmother) and his nanny Sandhya!
Some relief finally! And then a shock!
Finally, 6 weeks and two nannies later, we did manage to find someone who was not only caring and compassionate, but someone who Anvay adjusted with. Although by then the damage (to me) had been done! Despite the fact that Kapil was there to help with Anvay, it still involved a lot of work and soon enough my back started giving problems. The nanny that we were able to find comes during the day, which meant that one still needed to do the heavy lifting in the evenings. Lifting a four year old (who lets go of all control of his body) – even if it is only during the evenings is not an easy task.
It was early June, by the time we found the new nanny – and we heaved a collective sigh of relief! BUT we celebrated too soon. No sooner had the new nanny settled in – than my house help (for the last two years) started having health issues and decided to take 3 weeks off!
I couldn’t believe that I was again ‘help’ less! Since then it has been almost two months and she is not back yet. The poor thing has been having one issue after another – back treatment – then COVID and finally, most unfortunately, she lost her father. This was one lady who was my solid support – managed my house, someone so reliable that I left my kid with her when I travelled – and she was sorely missed.
So, in a way, I was back to square one. This time, calling up every one I knew asking for references for a cook and a cleaner. These last two months, I have spent a lot of my brain space hunting for someone who could come and clean for us. With a house full of three kids, once can imagine the amount of cleaning required! This situation was a throwback to the infant years of the twins – when I was desperately searching for domestic help in India! So just in case you are curious, in the space of 7-8 weeks, we have gone through three – four ladies – after every few days I had to find a new one, as the previous one went on vacation! I guess though, given that this was holiday time, we were lucky to have been able to find people willing to work on a temporary basis. My poor mother too was thrown into managing the kitchen and Arnav chipped in with the household chores (thank god for his summer holidays!).
Do I have enough insurance?!
The physical and mental stress took their revenge my poor back. Susceptible to pains and aches of all kinds since childhood, my back declared that it couldn’t take any more abuse! For the last few months its been showing its displeasure by getting inflamed every now and then – and eventually almost on a constant basis. Realising that I could not go on like this, I finally decided to visit a doctor. Among other tests, she suggested that I also do an MRI of the back to rule out any herniated disc issues.
As I patiently listened through the banging and clanging of the MRI machine through the ear muffs, my idle mind entertained morbid thoughts of finding a malignant tumor and having six months left to live (heh heh heh) and I frantically tried to remember whether or not I have adequate insurance!! Anyhow, the process did not last very long – and I was asked to get up before I drew up the imaginary will in my mind!
Well luckily, I need not have worried so much. I seem to have been let off easily – and will probably get away with some pain medication and physiotherapy 😊 though the doctor keeps reminding me that if I don’t take care, I will be needing surgery!
But ultimately remember AAL IZZ WELL. (The 3 Idiots mantra)
Just see how I am going on and on about my problems! But as Aamir Khan said – Aal Izz Well. So, before you think that everything is wrong in my life right now (I admit I do think that in my morose moments), let me tell you that there is always, always a silver lining! And we are no different 😊
First things first, the latest pain medication seems to be working – I went almost all day without a backache (ha ha ha). But more importantly, Anvay is happy and he is making progress. Today he sat on his own, playing in his chair for a very long time – AND hold on – TODAY is the day, he pulled himself up to standing position, on his own, FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME in his life!
So yes, there is always hope. And that’s what we live on and live for….
Please continue to pray for him. For us. Pray that he overcomes his obstacles….as much as is possible…..Amen.
…and please pray that his nanny gets a visa and is able to come here!
Thanks so much for reading! Please comment, share and spread the word!
Regards, Sakshi aka tripleamommy
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