Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Manic Monday started with an early morning exercise, a mere 10 minutes of sweat from one corner leading to the City Hall zone. I was brisk-walking my way back to my prized privilege, so to speak, otherwise known as Single Parent Leave. Such benefit requires a special certification / ID purposely issued to qualified individuals on solo parenthood. Mine just expired and I needed to have it renewed and ready for any kind of emergency or need.

Out of the ID’s I kept, this one had the best photo in it. I made sure of that. I had set a schedule for a photo shoot at a reputable portrait studio, laboured over hair and makeup for about 30 minutes before I flashed my sweetest smile. The photo had to give justice to my ID which bore the trademark SINGLE PARENT printed right above it, in bold characters. 

It was almost time for me to report to work, so I decided to just pick up whatever paper I had to complete from the Social Welfare and Development Office, and come back for the assessment some other time.

A guy handed me the files I needed.

Doesn’t this look familiar? I asked myself. I was staring at the registration form I filled up 3 years ago. I was told to update the required fields according to what changed over the past years.

Name --- same. Religion – same. Age --- 28. Height --- Is it possible that I’ve grown any taller? Weight --- I don’t check anymore. Civil Status --- I’m technically committed to be married. Should I just write TBA?

What lies beneath the checklist and other personal facts is the essay part where you detail out the problems you encounter as a single parent. “Kulang ang space ninyo,” was my first reaction 3 years ago. I had the urge to ask for extra papers to enumerate the tales of all Yayas past, hoping my revelations would get the officer to approve my request for renewal.  After all, one of the prevailing reasons I needed a buffer in my leave credits is because of Yaya Woes. 

Good help is so difficult to find nowadays. I consider it a wishful thinking to find a candidate and keep one who is close to a Mary Poppins persona. I can’t help but worry each day how long we’ll have Yaya with us. I only had a few good ones before --- few meaning with not more than 5 to count. Some of the rest I was more than happy to be rid of, except that I tried to delay it as much as I could. Problem is, as I spent more years growing up in Manila, I don’t have any close relative in town who’s always available and who I can rely on to play substitute nanny.

Try as I might, I extend my understanding and patience with these individuals who take my place at home while I fulfilled my responsibility as bread winner. I give space for their sensitivities and material desires. I am sometimes at fault of taking a significant share of tasks from the Yaya, just to make her feel more at ease. Some of them know how “in demand” nannies are in the society, and they would even use (and abuse) this as reasoning to gain more in cash and do less with chores. Of course, left with no choice, I have bended my own limitations for a number of instances. Time and again, I’d mentally call positivity back to my exhausted soul, and pray for sanity from the heavens above. I would even pray for Yaya’s enlightenment and health, incorporated to my personal intentions at Mass.

I may not have bragging rights to say I am a perfect employer, but give it my best try. In general, there is not much to do at home except to focus on my daughter’s needs, plus a bit of household tasks. We eat the same food and she has comfortable place to sleep in. I make it a point to show my appreciation, give complements and respect, and as much as I can. I entrust the welfare of my daughter to them and, in turn, I treat them fairly and, at times, close to being one with the family. On top of the reasonable salary, I also provide them with toiletries, vitamins / medications, medical check-up’s, personal essentials, e-load, transportation allowance on Sundays (just so they can’t use lack of money as an excuse not to get back home on time), plus a bit of premium such as shoes, clothing, and bags. Still, these do not win their loyalty, especially when a boyfriend becomes a factor in her decision making.

Our misadventures with nannies over the past 5 years saw a few sad goodbye’s and incalculable agonies. We had one who stepped into the role of a deceitful character. Around me, she was quiet and obedient. As soon as I stepped out of the door, Jekyll would turn into Hyde. She got physical with my daughter simply over TV shows and turns on the DVD. She threatened to spank the little one should she fail to keep her silence. This, unfortunately, I found out only a week after I fired her on the grounds of stealing. A pang of guilt hit me, wishing I could just work from home, as my daughter shared distressing accounts of Yaya’s cruelty. She even taught me Yaya’s mechanics in stealing, breaking through security locks on my closet. The innocent one became a witness to malicious deeds, and she was able to demonstrate how Yaya screwed out the hinges of my closet door to gain access to my clothes, accessories, and underwear. The kid didn’t have any clue she was being brainwashed to think that Yaya also has her own valuables hidden in my closet. No wonder my daughter got confused when she saw me putting on Olay cream, pointing out “Mom, you should not use that because it’s Yaya’s.”

We also had a nanny who had the best qualities of a loving older sister. But her caress and affection also extended to a good number of men. I’d joke aside and advise her to think and act wisely. I pointed out my own ordeals as a single parent, hoping it’ll empower her will so as not to be misled by admirers. My words went to waste as she got pregnant by one who promised to marry her. She asked to be dismissed from her duties so she can prepare for her wedding and childbirth. 4 weeks after, she nonchalantly shared news of her miscarriage, segue to her wedding plans with someone else. Wow, ang haba ng hair ni Ate! Ang daming marriage proposals.Buti ka pa.

This one we have with us right now is more than ok. However, she felt it was necessary to look after her grandchildren, too, when they enter school in June. This she confided to my daughter weeks ago, and I’m guessing she’ll be making her big announcement to me soon.

Sometimes I’d try to compare yaya-serviced months to yaya-less weeks, weighing the pros and cons. When will the search and ordeal end? Is there really any assurance things will fall into place? Will I ever win a chance at finding help who’ll last as long as needed?

I still have this motherly-guilt eating me once in a while.  If only I could cut myself in half to function both as full time mommy and bread winner.

To all single parents out there, I raise my glass to you for doing a kick ass job in raising your kids. I’m sure we share the same sentiments. I hope for peace of mind for all of us.

Story published on my Metro Mom column in Edge Davao newspaper
Page 15, A1 of section INdulge, Volume 5 Issue 36, 25 April 2012


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