I have a secret. I’m embarrassed to admit it. It sometimes makes me feel like a shitty mom to reveal this secret. You might have the same secret. Maybe it makes you feel weird, too. Maybe you don’t care.
I have a cleaning lady.
Several years ago I was at my breaking point. I felt like I just couldn’t keep up with anything. I was a shitty housekeeper. That made my anxiety sky high. Because I was always on edge, I was short tempered with my kids. Then I would be completely frustrated with my husband because he just didn’t get it.
It’s not that he didn’t care if the house was a mess and there was laundry everywhere. He just didn’t let it set him off. But it was all I could think about. I had 31 hours of shit to fit into a 24 hour day. Something had to give. If I wanted to be the mother, partner, friend, and employee I was proud of, I needed to let something go.
I remember bringing it up to my husband. I think he thought I was crazy. That night I told him 3 things: the kids needed to move to a daycare center closer to our home, we needed to hire a cleaning lady, and I thought I needed some counseling. He was not on board. We were fine.
The kids were happy at their daycare. Why would we move them? I explained that I could not be the sole person responsible for getting them to and from daycare every day. The center wasn’t open if school wasn’t open which means no childcare…and I never get a day off. This was in mid December. I toured daycares over winter break and we registered them start in August.
We could clean on the weekends. The house was fine. Again, I explained that he didn’t see the same things I saw. I couldn’t keep up with cleaning the fans and baseboards. Vacuuming the couch was never going to happen. No one was cleaning behind the toilet. Although it didn’t seem like a big deal to him, those type of things were what was keeping me up at night. Our cleaning lady started just after Christmas.
As for the counseling, he was totally supportive if I thought I needed it. But he thought I was handling the pressure of one to two kids, working full time, and going to grad school while raising a three year old and infant with ease. He didn’t know what was bubbling underneath. It took me an awful pregnancy, new job, a terrifying emergency c-section, and a pandemic to make that appointment.
The day we hired the cleaning lady was the last time we fought about cleaning. We actually rarely argue. Now, I’m not saying that a cleaning lady fixed everything in my life. But having the pressure taken off allowed me, and probably my husband, to breathe a little. And it turns out that made me a much better partner. I’m not on edge all the time and that makes me much more enjoyable to be around. I’m not overwhelmed just looking at the never ending list of household duties I wasn’t keeping up with.
So now, nearly 3 years after I graduated grad school, we still have a cleaning lady. This was not the plan. It was supposed to be a short term thing to get us through that brief tough time. Neither of us has even mentioned not having her come. Today was the day. I came home from work to a perfectly clean house. The floors were shining and the counters were sparkling. The fresh sheets on the beds and fluffy towels in the bathrooms are such a nice treat. I look forward to this day from the time she leaves my house until the moment she returns.
Cleaning lady days are the best days.