I remember my first year away from home. (And my second, and so on.) As an intern and then a college student living in dorms, I remember being told, “Your mother doesn’t live here.” Whether it was piles of laundry on top of the dryer, dirty dishes on the kitchenette counter, or the state of the suite bathrooms, we were to pick up after ourselves, be responsible, and not act as if our moms were coming around to tidy up after us.
The “mom” they were describing wasn’t my mom. I didn’t work hard at home, but I was expected to do some chores once I was old enough: wash the supper dishes once a week plus any I used between meals, vacuum or clean the bathroom from time to time, help get dinner ready if Mom was pressed for time or had had a full day. Still, I got the point.
Only, I think that mother that they were talking about – the mythical one that takes care of your every need and mess – I think I have found her.
We hired a wonderful local woman to help us keep house. She comes two mornings a week while we are at school and basically mothers us. I had an ayi in my old city (though she told me not to call her ayi because she wasn’t old enough to be my aunt. I called her by her name instead), but her one job was to clean. Three hours Friday morning, she’d clean my apartment from top to bottom, stem to stern, and that was that. There’s plenty more I could say about her, she was wonderful too and I count her as a friend, but the point is, the ayis here in my new city apparently have a broader job description. This lady cooks us dinner, washes our laundry, tells the school repairmen what to do if they come while she’s here, and cleans the apartment. She irons. She does stacks of dishes. She shops. For now it’s just for ingredients to make our meals, but if we ever figure out how to write her a list, she can get other stuff too. She’s amazing. I think if I live here long enough, I may forget how to wash my own clothes!
So, to anyone in college, your mother doesn’t live in the dorm with you. She lives here. Come teach here when you graduate, and I’ll introduce you.