I was recently asked 'What will you miss when as a missionary you go overseas and have to live on a reduced budget?' This person followed up their question with 'Obviously the butler will have to go!!'
Right now I have my own little 'home help' which isn't always as useful as it sounds! Yesterday when I said 'I need to clean the kitchen floor', Abigail was in the kitchen cupboard before I had a chance to finish my sentence getting out the Swiffer and was ready to go!
Today I brought the washing up from the basement and left it in the middle of the floor so I could put Naomi to bed before I tackled it. When I came back into the living room, Abigail was sat in the laundry basket with the clothes (clearly the most comfortable place for the task!) sorting it all out! No joke ... she made it very clear when I came in ... 'Mummy, this is your pile, this is Daddy's, this is Abi's and this one's Naomi's'. Admittedly they weren't folded, we'll leave that lesson for another day, but I'll take sorted for now!
It almost pains me when I'm cleaning the bathroom, in particular the toilet, to have to respond to her constant demands to do it 'all by mine own' ... with something along the lines of 'thank you but Mummy will do it this time'. Mummy would like nothing better than to hand over the cloth, put her feet up with a cup of tea and good book and leave her to it. How sad to realise that when she's old enough to get on with it her eagerness to help will probably be long gone!
One thing I was a little uncomfortable with when I first moved to Tanzania was that everyone had a house-'girl'. Someone to help out around the house with cleaning, washing, food preparation, cooking and maybe even some shopping. I couldn't even imagine why everyone would need one but protocol stated that we took one on at least once and week and anyway it cost next to nothing, even though I was paying double the going rate.
Looking back, I know that it wasn't long before I was won round to this cultural difference and fully embraced Maria, my wonderful house-'girl' who really looked out for me. Simple chores were harder and more time consuming. Laundry ... with no machine and shopping at the local market while enjoyable took longer leaving less time for household chores. While working at the school, teaching English and running some kids clubs, I would never have had time to sort out my little home at the time.
I have to admit I am looking forward to having that extra pair of hands around again when we move on from here ... especially with two little ones taking up so much of my time and rightly so! There is a chance we'll be returning to where I taught over 10 years ago and if so I'll be asking Maria if she has any time on her hands to be part of my family again (after all that's what she became). We're still in touch all these years later!
So, as far as 'giving up the butler' ... of all the sacrifices we have made to follow this path for the life of our family, that's not one I'll have to make!