A not unusual topic in discussions here in Portugal is maids and help around the house. I find it intriguing, because it is so common.
I mean I do realize we live in an affluent part of both the country and the area, as do the vast majority of the people we meet. But I would say that was the case also in Sweden, so the equation should potentially work out anyway.
The attitude here is a totally different one though, help of different kinds is not only wanted, it is expected, and no eyebrow is lifted when you say you have it. Rather the other way around.
And that’s how it is in Sweden, the other way around. Eyebrows are lifted and excuses are made when revealing the use of help in the home.
Here in Portugal, a parent (most often mum) can be at home while the other works (often out of the country because of low national wages) and still have a maid for help with the children and or cooking of food, a cleaning person for house keeping and somebody else to arrange for children’s parties. Being the ‘family manager’ is a 24-7 job, so help will be partially needed, cause you gotta have a life too, and make the time with the kids quality time.
Which is a pretty mind blowing thought if you’re Swedish and heavied down by the law of Jante that says that you are better than nobody and the all around idiom saying that “everybody is their own best servant”. So juggling it all on your own, being the perfect parent baking home made cookies, ambitious careerist recognized for dedication at work, mistress partner always ready for some rock’n roll, amazing friend always available to listen and healthy strong well trained and well manicured being, is supposedly traits of persons who indeed manage their lives.
It’s just that it seems that ‘managing’ in this case implies a tough challenge, as in “I made it, I managed to pull through with my chin just above the surface”.
Is that what life is? The accomplishment of coping with everything on your own? And succeeding in making it all on your own? However just barely?
Maybe it is, and for sure for some people it most definitely is right for them. But it does seem strange to me. And so tiring. I just don’t see why I should do something someone else actually does better, unless it’s part of what constitutes me as a person.
So if I find somebody whose cleaning I am more happy with than my own, or that bakes a birthday cake for twenty kids better and more efficient than I would do, or who paints a room better than I would, why shouldn’t I just admit that they are experts and professionals at what they do, and they are there for me to benefit from? For sure, as a people’s manager I know I am exchangeable as an employee but I am also certain that I am good at developing people into their better version of themselves as work persons, and in that aspect I wouldn’t want anybody else doing that job for me. That is one of my areas of expertise and part of my sense of pride as a professional person.
I wouldn’t let anybody else do it for me. I’d rather spend the hours and energy I save from having others do the things they do best for me to do more of the things I am the best at.
And that part, of course is going to be different for different persons. And that is the trick! Nothing is worse or better, but do what you yourself are the best at and desire the most. When and if doing so, I actually believe we will be getting closer to reaching an honest sense of accomplishment. As opposed to a more constant feeling of not being enough.