Friday, October 7, 2011

A Mother's Love

Today, a dear friend of mine turns 32.  For her privacy, I will call her "Carrie".  Carrie is from the Philippines and she has been working as a housemaid / nanny here in Abu Dhabi for 1 year and 11 months.  Carrie is an amazing example of a selfless mother and someone I have a great amount of respect and admiration for.  She's also the first real female friend I made here in the UAE.

Carrie said goodbye to 3 adorable little boys when she came over here in October of 2009.  The boys were 9, 7, and 4 when their mother left them with their grandmother, so that she could come here to work.  Her husband left to work also, but he went to Saudi Arabia to be a laborer.  Carrie has not always been a maid/nanny.  In the Philippines she had a desk job where she did some type of computer data entry work.   She's very smart, educated, and she can speak very good English and some Arabic. This is the part of her story that really boggled my mind and as an American I had the hardest time wrapping my head around.  Carrie packed up, hugged her boys goodbye, and came to the UAE for a salary of approximately $200 a month.  Yes, in US dollars it is right around $200, and she says it is more than she was making at her computer job in the Philippines.  It doesn't sound like a lot, but to Carrie $15 is a lot of money.  That's how much she has to pay for one of her sons for school tuition every month.  Carrie is also now sending money back home to her sister, who has recently developed terminal bone cancer since Carrie has been here.

Carrie scrubs floors and cares for another woman's children, because she has an amazing love for her own 3 boys.  She says she wants them to go to college and have a better life, just like most parents do.  I know in the US there are single parents that struggle with multiple jobs to do the same thing, but they still get to come home and hug and enjoy the affections of the reasons they are working tireless hours for.  I never had to work multiple jobs, but when I did work in the states it always felt good to come home to my kids after a day at work.  Even better, were the times that the kids acknowledged that my husband's and my hard work made it possible for them to have a comfortable life.  I used to keep a framed paragraph my son wrote in second grade on my desk at work.  I think he did it for Mother's Day, and it was his description of me.  My favorite line was one I would read whenever I was having a really bad day at work, he wrote "My  mom is special, because she works really hard to get money so I can go to a Christian school and so we can pay the bills."   I love my kids, and my husband and I have made many decisions based on them having a good future including moving our family here to Abu Dhabi.  I still can't imagine having to make the decision to leave them and work 4,500 miles away from them with limited access to communication with them for 2 years or longer.  This is what Carrie has done for the past 1 year and 11 months, and I have watched her struggle with it.  As a mother, it breaks my heart to see her cry when she talks about missing her babies.  They always ask her when she's coming home when she does get to talk to them.  I often wonder if I could be as strong as Carrie if I were in her shoes.  Could I go away to a strange place where I don't know anyone, and leave my husband and kids for years?  Could I give up watching my son and daughter grow up?

Carrie's time here in Abu Dhabi is coming to an end soon, on November 1st her contract here will be over and she will head back home to the Philippines to see her babies.  As her friend, it brings me joy to know she will finally be able to collect those big hugs from her boys that she so deserves.  It also saddens me, because she has become a constant in my everyday life here.  I love every time I walk out of my gate how she greets me with a big smile, a warm hug, and kisses on the cheek.  I'll miss all of our chats about our lives and families.  I'll miss her witty sense of humor that seems to fit right in with my sarcastic household.  I pray that I will see her again someday.  I also pray that all of her hard work will pay off, and that those three gorgeous little boys grow up to be something great.

Happy Birthday, Carrie.      

Carrie's Boys


tetah said...

you brought tears in my eyes cris. i love your stories.


Thanks, dear. Being able to meet amazing and strong women like you and "Carrie" has really opened my eyes. I'm honored to be your friend.

Sirmelja said...

This was lovely, and brought a tear to my eye as well! I've just found your blog (just accepted a job offer over there), and am trying to be disciplined and read it from start to finish :)


Congrats on the job offer! Good luck! It really is a great place to work and live.