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Housekeeping

This week I paid someone to clean my apartment.

I was really nervous about it. Hiring someone to do something that is my responsibility felt like a reflection of my personal shortcomings. And a terrible waste of money. Why pay someone to do something I’m perfectly capable of doing? Help is a threat! If I need help something is wrong with me. And then of course I was worried she would judge me or think I was a filthy pig, so I spent all weekend fighting the urge to scrub the apartment before she came over.

It’s not that I mind doing the housework. I actually really enjoy it. (Except for the part where I have to put my hand in a toilet.) It’s time I spend nurturing my little nest. Making sure all the pillows are fluffed and the towels are clean. I use the time to think and reflect and when I’m finished I feel like I’ve accomplished something really valuable. Plus, I love the way everything shines. And Mike is great about housework, always willing to help, and actually, he’s better about some of the chores than I am. So really, there is no excuse for someone to have to come in and clean our apartment for us. We are perfectly capable of cleaning this apartment.

But suddenly we find ourselves busier than we’ve been in our entire five years of marriage, living the kinds of lives when all we can manage to do with a night off is collapse on the sofa in front of old episodes of Law & Order. I’m so busy that I consider it a luxury to spend ten minutes shaving my legs and he spends every spare moment he has studying. And it’s great, we’re happy, we chose this, I’m not complaining!  But something had to give. Neither of us can work any less and Mike’s education is a priority for both of us. We’re not going to spend less time with family or friends – we don’t get enough time with them as is. So housework had to go.

And it’s not that we’re dirty people, because it doesn’t matter how busy I get, I tidy up like someone with serious OCD. I probably am a little OCD, clinically speaking, because if things aren’t just so, I will f-ing freak out. Everything has a place and when it’s not in it’s place my eyeballs twitch and I can’t breathe and it’s not very pretty.  I used to throw terrible tantrums because of socks on the floor or a dishtowel with a smear of spaghetti sauce on one corner. I’d cry and bang things and scream, “When you don’t put the dirty dish towel in the hamper I feel like you don’t love me!” But I don’t do those things anymore. I’ve learned. Now I tidy up constantly, all the time, I am always tidying. It’s easier for me to take five seconds to toss a dirty dishcloth in the hamper instead of screaming at Mike about it because really? He doesn’t deserve to be treated that way. Especially since I’m the one with the problem. But when I’m working this much and he’s working and going to school and we’re trying to maintain healthy social lives and get adequate exercise and all that other stuff, even if we can maintain the basic chores like laundry and dishes and litter boxes and dog walks and paying bills on time, we can’t manage the big things like shower scrubbing and floor mopping. And when those things get ignored and start growing orange fur, my skin starts itching and I  wake up in the middle of the night with my heart pounding and adrenaline coursing through my veins from nightmares about dead babies in filthy bathrooms crawling with cats.

So you see, it’s not really an option to give up on the housework. And that is why we are paying someone to clean the apartment for us.

You guys. She cleaned things I haven’t even had time to imagine cleaning. She scrubbed the teakettle so now I can see my reflection in it. She did all the dirty work in the bathrooms that I loathe and despise, and then she polished my perfume tray. She moved everything off of every shelf and surface area and dusted behind and underneath and around. She washed the screen door and the windows and she scrubbed the balcony, in addition to emptying the dishwasher, taking down the trash, and mopping the floors. What would’ve taken me twenty-four hours of work, broken up only by naps, she finished in four and a half hours. She is a miracle worker. I invited her to come back in two weeks. And then I hugged her and cried on her shoulder while wads of sticky anxiety flowed off of me.

In the aftermath of this stunning cleaning symphony, I lounge on the balcony, blogging, feeling completely relaxed because not only is the shower cleaner than it’s been in two months, I didn’t have to do any of the work.  The only thing better than a freshly scrubbed toilet is a freshly scrubbed toilet someone else scrubbed. I don’t get manicures or pedicures, I never go to the spa, I don’t get any of my parts waxed, I only get my hair cut twice a year, we hardly ever go to the movies or out for dinner, but we pay someone else to clean our apartment and as far as I’m concerned, that is more luxurious than any manicure or facial ever could be.


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  • I think you might have just convinced me to have someone clean the bathroom. Seriously, you wrote this post better than I ever could have. Maybe I should pay you to blog for me! I kid, I kid, but dude. You speak words that ring so true I swear you are buried inside the folds of my brain. It makes me so glad to know that I am not a unique and special snowflake in my pseudo-OCD need to have the house clean combined with my omg-I-am-a-lazy-bum lack of ability to tackle things like the shower. Even though the little corners of pink mold and black mildew make me angry every time I take a shower (and yeah, I know they are tiny, but still, they are all I see).

    I wonder what it would cost to have someone do the whole place. And I wonder if we’d have to get rid of the bedroom “island” first. Come to think of it, I did take a picture this morning (duh, Kim) of an advertisement for home cleaning services…

    • Our apartment is approximately 800 square feet, and it cost less than a haircut at a salon. And three days later I’m still wandering around her, stunned by how beautiful and shiny everything is.

      I don’t spend money pampering myself, but from now on, I will absolutely pay someone to clean the apartment. Only twice a month, we don’t need it every week, but still. It’s amazing. I’ll never go back. (Unless forced to.)

      • Good to know! That’s about the size of our place…hmmm. This is a good idea.

      • Good to know! That’s about the size of our place…hmmm. This is a good idea.

    • Our apartment is approximately 800 square feet, and it cost less than a haircut at a salon. And three days later I’m still wandering around her, stunned by how beautiful and shiny everything is.

      I don’t spend money pampering myself, but from now on, I will absolutely pay someone to clean the apartment. Only twice a month, we don’t need it every week, but still. It’s amazing. I’ll never go back. (Unless forced to.)

  • I think you might have just convinced me to have someone clean the bathroom. Seriously, you wrote this post better than I ever could have. Maybe I should pay you to blog for me! I kid, I kid, but dude. You speak words that ring so true I swear you are buried inside the folds of my brain. It makes me so glad to know that I am not a unique and special snowflake in my pseudo-OCD need to have the house clean combined with my omg-I-am-a-lazy-bum lack of ability to tackle things like the shower. Even though the little corners of pink mold and black mildew make me angry every time I take a shower (and yeah, I know they are tiny, but still, they are all I see).

    I wonder what it would cost to have someone do the whole place. And I wonder if we’d have to get rid of the bedroom “island” first. Come to think of it, I did take a picture this morning (duh, Kim) of an advertisement for home cleaning services…

  • Oooh – agreed!!! I am SO hiring someone to clean my carpets again this spring (and my MIL to do my windows again!). I am good at being tidy, but to have things really CLEANED… wow, makes such a difference. Glad you are happy with your priorities. 🙂

    • Me too! 🙂 OMG I am so excited about your little rockstar!

    • Me too! 🙂 OMG I am so excited about your little rockstar!

  • Oooh – agreed!!! I am SO hiring someone to clean my carpets again this spring (and my MIL to do my windows again!). I am good at being tidy, but to have things really CLEANED… wow, makes such a difference. Glad you are happy with your priorities. 🙂

  • Generalisima

    Wonderful!

  • Generalisima

    Wonderful!