Yaya Jessica

Lucas was only two months old when Yaya Jessica came to work for us.

One of the struggles we had was that most nannies were afraid to take care of such a young baby. So when we found Jessica, and she had no problem taking care of two-month-old Lucas, we were ecstatic.

Jessica was in her mid-forties. She had three children, if I remember correctly, and a few grandchildren. She looked a little like Ate Amy, with a round face and long hair, but she had a happy, laughing face, whereas Ate Amy was a little more reserved.

Yaya Jessica was all right. She could put Lucas to sleep, and she seemed to take instruction well. She did our laundry too, which was a big help. She did the dishes after we ate, so that I could feed or bathe Lucas.

The deal was that she would come in from Monday to Saturday, arriving at 6 am and leaving at 7 pm. I paid her weekly, transportation allowance included. Meals were on us.

She liked to sing to Lucas, and laugh with him. She liked to joke, and she was very chatty.

She and our new cleaning lady, Ana, were friends and neighbors, so on Wednesdays they would arrive together and go home together. Throughout the day, their chatter entertained Lucas and lulled him to sleep.

When Jessica tried to get Lucas to sleep, she sang and rocked him, and tried her darnedest to put him down in the Pack n Play. He usually woke up, and she would end up letting him sleep on her lap while she dozed off on the sofa.

When we went out with her, to the pedia or elsewhere, she refused to eat. We bought her food, offered to give her money to buy food, and she just refused, saying she would just have coffee and bread when we got back to the house. It was weird, but okay.

It was February when she started working with us. We wanted to get a yaya early so that we could train her before I went back to work in March. We designed a schedule, and figured out instructions for feeding, diapers, naps and sponge baths.

A week or so after Jessica came to work for us, I finally felt like I could enjoy parenthood. I could feed Lucas, bathe him, change his diapers, but when I needed time and space to breathe, I could hand him off to Jessica and escape to my office, lie down for five minutes, even take a shower. Finally, parenthood wasn’t so overwhelming.

I went back to work in March. On my first day back in the office, I called the house before lunch. Dad assured me that everything was fine, Lucas was fine, Yaya was fine.

I left a notebook with Jessica, so that she could log Lucas’ activities: diaper changes, feeding times, nap times. At the end of the day, we would check the notebook, ask her about this or that, and log the entries in the app we used.

I struggled for a while, because I felt like motherhood conflicted with all the things I was and did in the past. I think I had headspace to deal with those issues precisely because I didn’t have to worry about Lucas. I could go to work, or have dinner with friends. I even managed a few movie premieres. Parenthood seemed manageable.

Eventually, the honeymoon period ended. One Monday in May, Jessica didn’t show up for work. I called and texted, and she didn’t reply. I had a meeting in the office, so we bundled up Lucas, and Oneal drove us to work. I finished my meeting, and Oneal drove us back home, so that he could go to his own meetings.

I left Lucas with Dad, and tried calling Jessica again. Still nothing. I tried the cleaning lady, Ana. Only then did I get answers.

Apparently Jessica had problems with the food we were feeding her. She didn’t like eating the fried rice that was leftover from breakfast. Sometimes the food we gave her didn’t go with the fried rice. And apparently, the sinigang I’d given her for lunch the previous Saturday was going bad. I had no idea.

I was so upset. How could I have known she had a problem with the food? She’d never said anything, and whenever we were out, she always refused to eat. It was so frustrating.

I tried calling and texting again, asking if we could talk about it. If that was the problem, then we could fix it. But she wouldn’t take my calls, and she didn’t reply to my messages.

She didn’t want to talk. And we were left without a yaya. What was I to do?

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