Lessons from Ms. M

Last Fall, I gave in and agreed to get a domestic helper. (Well, actually, I got a part time teaching job and we needed child care.)  Our helper, Ms. M, is wonderful and I honestly don't know how we managed before she came into our lives. She came highly recommended to us and on our first meeting, I knew there was something special about her. When she smiled, her whole face lit up with a warm and comforting glow. And Song, who refused to go to anyone who was not Mommy or Daddy, snuggled right up to her.

She has taught me many things in the short amount of time she has been with us. Here are some of those lessons:

1. Put the Children First: Sounds pretty obvious, but I actually need to be reminded of this daily. You see, I am very task oriented and I like to get through one thing before starting another. So, if Shine asks me for a peanut butter sandwich while I'm folding the laundry, my initial response is: "Sure, when I'm done with this." Needless to say, it is usually met with a lot of 5 year old wailing. Ms. M on the other hand will stop ironing a dozen times in order to make a sandwich, flip through a boardbook, help attach a Lego piece or put on a shoe. It takes about 2 minutes away from the ironing and the house remains peaceful.

2. Be Efficient: I am astounded at the amount of work Ms. M gets done in the eight hours she is here. It would take me three days to do what she does in one.

3. Sing: Maybe it is because she is singing all day long that Ms. M is able to accomplish so much. It keeps her in a rhythm and helps her find a groove. It also makes for a very cheerful house.

4. Look Your Best: Before leaving for the day, Ms. M takes time to change her clothes, reapply make up, restyle her hair and make sure she looks her best before stepping out into the street. For an overworked Momma like me who often forgets to wipe the crusted oatmeal off her T-shirt before racing to the grocery store, this was a nice reminder to take a few minutes for myself each day. It's true that if you look good, you feel good...and if the Momma feels good, chances are the kiddos will feel good too and life will run much more smoothly.

5. Jump on Opportunity: Jamaican people are often described as opportunistic and this is often construed as being something negative. But just think for a moment, how many times did you let an opportunity pass you by only to regret it later?

6. Be a Real Kitchen Diva: Since Ms. M's arrival, I have learned how to peel green bananas with ease, strip and cut sugarcane,open a coconut, keep yam from turning rusty and make creamy cornmeal porridge (mine always has lumps).

7. Enjoy Life: I know little about Ms. M's family life, but I do know that she has 5 children, lives in an impoverished neighborhood and has a very small household income. However, she never complains, always smiles, always takes time to chat with other people, is always willing to help, is dedicated to her children, loves to laugh, always smiles and just takes pleasure in being alive. Jamaican people are truly remarkable in their ability to count their blessings and enjoy life.

Until soon...
Peace and wellness,