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Feeling really miserable in the Middle East

(9 Posts)
user1466715461 Thu 23-Jun-16 22:45:10

Totally miserable. I have just moved to Jordan. I have lived in remote Asia and Africa before but never Middle East. This time round I'm finding it really hard. 2 children and for now I'm at home (trying to work from home). My kids are old enough for school and preschool and that is going well. The problem is that I just hate the maid culture. Everyone has a live-in maid who does everything. It means parents are available for every social occasion, no stress, no consequences at a drop of a hat. They go out in the evenings several time a week. They also drink a lot because there is always a maid the next day to look after the kids whilst they nurse their hangovers. Kids are guarded by these maids who are scared of anything happening so my kids get side lined in any social situations. I hate to leave my kids and consider it a special treat. I actually only really have date nights with my husband when I'm back in the UK because I feel better about there (at least Granny puts her heart into it). The locals cart their maids around like hand bags to every park, every museum, shopping centres maids are everywhere accompanying their employers. Why? I never see a Granny in the way I see them in the parks and High Streets of suburban London doing hours of childcare. I would hate this. If you are at work you're at work and need childcare, I understand the role of the nanny in this situation but shouldn't parents spend one to one time with their kids. Once you're home let the nanny knock off for the day? The problem is it makes me so lonely. I know I was raised with a certain sense of social justice, I guess I come from a very ordinary lower middle class back ground, and that hard work is important and virtuous but here I feel like I'm the only mug who still holds these values, non of the expats I meet do as much parenting as I do. I miss my friends but at the same time I feel like I've seen too much. Whilst they see the world in rose tinted glasses sadly living overseas has also made me see so many injustices. My kids struggle too. They live this crazy double life, where I'm trying to instill some old fashioned work ethic in them and at the same time none of their friends have to lift a finger (not even put on their own shoes - aren't 3 year olds supposed to put on their own shoes? I don't even know any more...) I really feel like I'm going crazy. I don't resent my kids, when I'm visiting home I love spending time with my kids, we do loads of stuff together and most of all I love seeing all the ordinary parents doing the same whatever their personal situations. I never see any ordinary parenting here in Amman. I will sometimes see it in less wealthy parts of Amman or the country but then families become more conservative and harder to interact with as I'm foreign and Christian. I know racism is a touchy subject at the moment but it makes it hard having seen how abusive some cultures are (it was pretty bad in Africa too with young house girls locked up doing chores in miserable conditions) to embrace multiculturalism as I don't always trust that foreigners really ever leave these abusive attitudes behind especially if they got used to it as a child. There is still a visa available to wealthy families to bring their maids with them to the UK so we have a lot of cases of abuse in the UK too. Sorry for the long post but I'm feeling really miserable and confused.

timeandtide Thu 23-Jun-16 22:57:35

Why do you need to live there? Husband's job? what does he do? Is there an expat community like AD or Dubai? Xx

coralpig Thu 23-Jun-16 23:06:05

YANBU (at least you're not until you become sceptical about immigrant attitudes) I'm a second generation immigrant with parents from a part of the world with not too dissimilar customs and I despise it. You couldn't pay me to live somewhere with a maid culture and I can't stand it.

Lots of people like me exist.

Momamum Thu 23-Jun-16 23:07:25

timeandtide , from my experience of living as an ex-pat, they can tend to be the worst!
OP, keep posting. Always someone here to vent to. You sound like a bit(lot) of culture shock's going on. X

Theydontknowweknowtheyknow Thu 23-Jun-16 23:10:09

Sounds awful. What about befriending your maid or is that not the done thing?

Bumshkawahwah Thu 23-Jun-16 23:16:40

I've lived in SE Asia where there was a pretty strong maid culture, but there were still some who stood out as not wanting to embrace it completely. Maids/nannies were mainly live out though, which meant it was easier to have part-time cleaning help with a bit of babysitting thrown in. There were still plenty who had a maid, a nanny for each child etc etc

I'm sure there will be other people like you in Jordan, you just need to find them smile

Whinyleonard Thu 23-Jun-16 23:37:14

I would get this moved to living overseas. All you will get here is "I wouldn't live in ME for any money in the world" which is largely unhelpful and utterly irrelevant. Why would they be of any help to you?

Jordan isn't a great place to live, life in other ME countries is slowly losing the trailing spouse and maid type expats, with the woman being the main breadwinner and lifestyle being more like life in any city.

But it's absolutely pointless admitting to living anywhere in the ME on aibu because it just ends up a bitchfest for people who really, really hate Arab countries.

Hirosleaftunnel Fri 24-Jun-16 01:38:54

OP you really need to try and see it from another point of view. I live in Asia and have a maid. I have spoken to her at length about her choices. She is 45 years old and has been working as a servant for 25 years. After completing a certain level of further education in the Philipines, her parents wanted her to get married and start having babies. She ran away to the Middle East and worked in Dubai, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi. In the 18 years she was in the ME, she learnt Arabic, on periods at home got married had two daughters, paid for her father's cancer treatment etc. After her dad died she came back to Asia to work in Singpore and HK. She has put both daughters through uni and they have bright futures. I'm not saying there aren't abusive employees, there definitely are but these men and women are supporting their families and educating their kids. Looking at it from a purely Western point of view doesn't work. You aren't in London, your cultural norms are not transferable. My maid loves my DC like her own. I work and when I get home she goes to bed. She is considered to be a member of our family. Locals here expect a lot more from their servants but that is their culture. I don't think it is up to me to criticise them. Anyway YABU, interview a few maids, speak to them about why they are doing this job. You may be surprised. Welcoming someone into your family and home and supporting their wider family can be a very rewarding experience. It is for us.

dizzyfucker Fri 24-Jun-16 03:51:06

I agree with moving this. I've never lived in the ME but I have lived in other places where there was a big maid culture amoung the ex-pats, still do but I'm no where near any ex-pats thank god. I found moving out of those circles was best because it did grate on me. One woman said her maid couldn't sit in her livingroom and needed to go to the kitchen. Another got her maid a TV and genuinely believed that was the first TV the woman had ever seen. They were floating in a different galaxy. It was horrible the way they carried on, nothing like the way most locals behave, in fact the word "maid" is frowned upon as being very impolite. I understand mixing with locals is hard but are you giving yourself time? You don't have to embrace the maid culture, but in a lot of places you do need to provide employment. Some people manage this well and others, like the women I met, are completely out of touch with reality. They can't put their feet on the ground. I found common ground with people who were more like me, that didn't embrace the lifestyle as though they were suddenly rich and important. Is there anyone like that where you are? You can't possibly be the only one.

I have a housekeeper/nanny who works mornings (youngest are at school in the afternoon) she has her own catering business in the evening. She works super hard and has been doing so for 45 years. She looked after my husband's cousin when he was a boy and my teenage son's best friend for 10 years. She loves taking care of my youngest two and they love her. Like Hirosleaftunnel said you cannot always look at it from your cultural perspective. I work though, I would feel odd if I was home while she was here. When I am home I usually give her a paid day off and spend time with my children or take them out on errands with me so I'm not hanging abòut while someone else cleans up after my family. I find that odd.

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