The short answer: “it’s complicated!”
There are so many things about Manuela that are awesome: she’s a great cook, she manages the delivery and maintenance people deftly, she takes great care of the dog, and most important to me: she’s very funny.
Our home isn’t large and there are only four of us, including the dog. We don’t have a lot of collectibles or antiques–so there isn’t a lot to do by way of cleaning and laundry.
Despite the moderate cooking and cleaning, we rely heavily on Manuela for administrative assistance.
That woman is a pitbull.
And if we need something done, it will be resolved mañana!
She makes calls, schedules appointments, picks up our dry cleaning, etc. and I love that. It’s awesome because it allows me to deal with our life in the States (renters, repairs, etc.) and focus on homework and the things that need my attention.
Some of my initial concerns about living with another person are just invalid: she’s on one side of the house and we are on the other so we don’t bother her (she’s early to bed early to rise), she never sees us (and by us
I mean the boy) naked, and I would be stunned if she were dishonest or stole. It’s just not her nature.
On the other hand, it is complicated too.
Because she takes great pride in her work, she is obsessed with doing everything and is frustrated or offended if we accidentally do things for ourselves: make the bed, do the laundry, cook, iron a shirt before running out the door, etc.–and often it’s not that we are trying to do her job–we’re just on auto pilot–or in the habit of doing things ourselves.
I still make my bed. And the boy still cleans his room. But, we operate within boundaries that are comfortable for everyone.
Manuela is also very protective. I would never disclose that I was mad at someone or did not like them. She is fiercely loyal and who knows what she would do to someone who wasn’t nice to me? She’s still angry with the embroidery shop down the street because she thinks they over charged us for the embroidery of the boy’s school shirts. If DH wants to get her going he will say, “Manuela, let me tell you about a robo (which is what she calls any robbery or over-charging incident!) and she will begin growling and in five minutes or less start complaining about dishonest people and reference the embroidery shop as her chief example of dishonestly and unacceptable behavior.
So, what’s it like having a maid? For me, it’s also really great to have one person that you can count on to tell you where to go and what to do. We can comfortably ask her what something means or where something is, and know that she is safe, honest and trustworthy.