My maid has not returned from her village after the Christmas holidays. I am not mad. Not even upset. I will admit I am a little irritated – but I am not worrying myself sick. I have decided that maids will no longer have that hold on me.

You see, this is the third maid who is not coming back from her home after the Christmas holidays. The last two who did this left me in a pathetic state. I was worried sick. I even hardly ate for about two days.

“What am I going to do? Who is going to help me when school starts? Forget when school starts – I need someone now! I am sore from doing a lot of the work…”

These were the thoughts and questions that plagued me when they left. I would call their phone numbers numerous times a day. I would call their sisters, aunts and cousins asking where they were. I even sent text messages – such was my desperation.

But this year I decided – no more. Of course, it helped that I could tell around October that she just might not come back. The once obedient girl had started ignoring some of my requests to do some chores at home – like dusting the chairs in the corners no one sits in, or weeding the small patch on the side of the house where we hardly spend time.

She was no longer as polite. She was not rude – but the warm “welcome home” greetings stopped. The biggest indicator though was when she stopped replying me when I was upset over something. For seven months, the girl always replied with an apology, explanation or reason when I asked over things gone wrong. But that time, she kept quiet, frowned and walked away. I did not expect her to be an angel. But it was out of character. Something was cooking.

On the day she left, she took almost all she owned, except an old pair of shoes, a worn out bag, and some clothes. I looked at them and thought – “Yup, this one is not coming back.” I must admit I was a little hurt that she left behind a green nice top I bought for her from South Africa, on one of my trips.

“At least she took the towel I got her,” I consoled myself. In hindsight, I should have bought her a dress. She seemed to have spent all her money on dresses during her stay at our home.

She left on December 22nd. She was supposed to come back on January 3rd. When she did not call on Tuesday, as we had agreed, to let us know she was on the bus back, I moved on. I did not even call her.

My plan B had already been set in motion. I got a lovely and hardworking lady, Remmy, who has always helped in times of crisis. The plan was for Remmy to help till the maid got back. But now she will stay on until we find another maid.

Remmy cannot stay nights; she has a child and nieces to look after in her home. So the schedule is that she comes fromMonday to Saturday in the morning and leaves when I get home in the evening.

The children love her. She also cooks really well. Plus she loves to clean up. She is no saint and some days we argue. But she loves our family. And we love her back. And even though I am more tired generally because I have to pick up from where Remmy has left during the evenings and ensure some work is done in the mornings, we are okay. The maid meanwhile has never called us to say she will not be coming back. But it is okay. I am sure we shall find another. And even if that maid pulls a Christmas disappearance stunt, I will not be held hostage.

Moral of the story? Always have a plan B. Hire extra help around November who will not travel for Christmas. Or plan for a long holiday for the kids at a relative’s if they are old enough to be away from you. Or take a full month’s leave if you can manage the housework yourself. Just don’t let a maid who has not come back take away your peace. You deserve it – especially in December.