A Lesson in Humility:

A few weeks ago I decided to use some of my tutoring income this year towards a weekly housekeeper (since I’m not paying for Helen to go to Montessori anymore — she’s in public kindergarten and thriving). This summer both girls have been home, and our house has been under construction and Jerry and I were trading workspaces. So the house has gotten seriously out of control because I don’t want to spend every second cleaning it. Or even every other second. Or every tenth second. I hate housework more than I hate my annual gynecological exam.

So I called my friend and got the number of her housekeeper. Her housekeeper just started working full-time at a local university as a Dorm Advisor, so she doesn’t have time for another housekeeping job, but she came over to meet me anyway and figure out which one of her friends might be a good fit for me.

Several days later I got a call from Valerie, one of her friends. Valerie said she’d love to come over and meet me and see the house, and she did. During the course of our conversation it came out that she’s terrified of dogs, and rather afraid of cats, too. I agreed that I’d put the dogs out of her way when she came over (and if she took the job, they’d be shut in Jerry’s office while she was here). The cat’s won’t bother her as long as she doesn’t sit down — at which point the two downstairs cats would be trying to get some love… Tango is a Lap Fungus.

So. She came over and was really jumpy because of all of the animals, and kept saying, “Oh, my” about how “lived in” our house is. It’s mostly cluttery, but there’s a LOT of dog hair (which is why I keep destroying vacuums) and the kitchen floor needs to be mopped rather badly.

She named her price, I accepted it, and she said she’d come back the next Wednesday morning at 8:15. “It won’t be perfect the first week; it’s going to take a bit of time to get it where I’d like to see it.” No problem, since it didn’t GET this way in one day, either.

Tuesday afternoon there was a message on my answering machine: Valerie had done a lot of thinking about it and decided that this job was more than she “wanted to take on at this time.”

I was turned down by a housekeeper.

So. I’ll try again, once I’ve recovered from the humiliation.

You’d think this would inspire me to get busy cleaning up the house, but it just doesn’t. I can’t clean it as fast as the girls wreck it, so they have to be asleep or out of the house for me to clean it. And if they’re asleep or out of the house, I am NOT ABOUT TO CLEAN. So it’s a Catch-22 and it just keeps getting worse.


I guess I’ll call a housekeeping *company* tomorrow, since they’ll send a team of people and not be quite so overwhelming as it would be for one person…

My mother had a housekeeper that came on Tuesdays, and Vera vacuumed the areas she could reach, dusted, wiped down countertops, did the bathroom, and changed the linens. That’s what I want — I don’t want someone scrubbing behind the toilet with a toothbrush or anything… I just want the basics done so that I can attack the clutter. My mother wasn’t superhuman, and neither am I. I’ll never be remembered for my clean house, and that’s totally OK with me — if that’s what people talk about when standing around after my funeral, then I will have failed in my lifetime.

That’s what I keep telling myself, anyway.

4 thoughts on “A Lesson in Humility:”

  1. First of all.. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

    With the baby coming soon, Bryan and I have been doing the whole “do you want to go back to work right away?” debate. We need two incomes, though, and the idea of me not working at all doesn’t jive with our current accomodations.

    A friend of mine suggested I start cleaning houses. It’s what I LOVE doing, and my Virgo nature suits it well.

    So, if you don’t mind my asking, how did you find the first lady, and how will you pick your company? Just trying to do a bit of market research. 🙂

  2. We share the same birthday. I totally don’t buy the Virgos-love-cleaning stuff, though. You and Megan are totally on crack.

    The first lady was a friend of the housekeeper of Alice’s godmother. Alice’s godmother’s house always looks lovely, and it’s not because the people that live there are neat — they’re not. It’s the housekeeper.

    As for how I’ll pick the service, I’ll go through the yellow pages. And I’ll probably get a service rather than a person for the simple reason that it’s less of an interpersonal relationship and easier to fire a service than it would be to fire a person.

  3. Happy, Happy Birthday!

    We had someone highly recommended come to clean our house — exactly one time. She came late, left early, and didn’t do 25% of what she said she would do. The house was completely picked up, but just needed someone to do the deep cleaning (kitchen and bathrooms, dusting, vacuuming).

    Brian and I decide what we can and can’t live with. He hates dirty bathrooms and sticky floors, so he scrubs the bathrooms and does the mopping/vacuuming about once a week. I don’t like leaving even one dish in the sink, so I keep up the kitchen. I also don’t like clutter, so I pick up and put away random things.

    Everything else, though, we just live with. We don’t mind pulling clothes out of the dryer to wear, and please don’t ask us how long we go between washing sheets. We also both don’t like to cook, so dinner is always a last minute disaster. Again, we just clean what we feel we have to– everything else goes to pot.

    When we move into our house, we’ll try to hire someone again. But in general, if you can afford it, life is way, way too short to spend cleaning.

  4. I loved reading Anjali’s comment above, because it makes me think I am not such a freak after all. 🙂

    I kinda like the “clean what bugs you” approach she outlines. One trick we have yet to figure out is how to make dirty things bug the girls so that perhaps they will provide at least a little help…

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