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Saturday, April 08, 2006

A Dirty Little Secret

From the beginning I have had a great deal of stress about being someone's wife. There is no book, no manual as to how marraige works, each one having it's own nuances, parameters, and journey. What is being a good wife anyway? Is it cooking dinner every night? Is it keeping the house spotless? Is it just a matter of supporting your partner? I would say...

Okay, I'm stalling... I have a cleaning person. There I said it. I know, I know...we don't even have kids and I can't even pick up after my husband and I. I know. I know.

She only comes every 3 weeks and I prefer to think of her as the "heavy lifting cleaning lady". I mean I still do all the day to day cleaning and picking up and laundry and such. Except, I don't really, my husband does the laundry and most of the picking up.

Note to self: Become better wife. (Does this qualify as an Oprah "aha" moment?)

Alright, alright. That isn't the point of the post. Or actually it kind of is. I am totally guilty about having this cleaning person. I know I should be doing it...and certainly I could find time on the weekends. My husband thinks it's ridiculous and that we should do it ourselves. Having her makes me feel like I'm failing at cleaning and therefore, failing slightly at being a wife. Surely I should be cleaning my own bathroom. Who do I think I am? Britney Spears? The Queen of England? I bet Martha Stewart finds time to clean her own bathroom with homemade cleaning products.

I don't think I'm the Queen of England, I just think I work really hard all week and some weekends. I know it sounds self indulgent, but those weekends? THEY ARE MINE! I live for those two days, dream about them all week, long for them, count down minutes. So really it would ruin the whole "pining away for the weekend" thing I have going if I knew that all the weekend meant was scrubbing the shower or the stove.

I try to explain to my husband in rational terms. This lady costs $90. She is very reasonable and does it in about 3 hours time. It would take us all day, and just from an economical standpoint: My time is much more valuable than the $90 I am paying, ergo, what the hell are we fighting for? He insists we can do it ourselves...

Honestly, for a kid who wastes money like it was going to be discontinued tomorrow...I would expect more. "Sigh."

So every 3 weeks I remind my husband on the eve of cleaning lady day that tomorrow is, in fact, cleaning lady day. He then sighs loudly (seriously, this whole sighing thing never happened when we were dating, what is with sighing, it's become his new schtick). We do the whole mini recap of the cleaning lady argument and it is all for naught, because she is coming. We have not come to an agreement so much as he has compromised and I get something he doesn't think we need. This is endlessly annoying...the fact that he can't see my side...but whatevs, The Cleaning Lady Comes Tomorrow!

And then he comes home from work and seriously inspects every detail. He will point out every windowsill that still has dust on it, or every stray hair still in the bathroom. This kid who buys $50 leather flip flops that he refuses to wear and refuses to return, is CHEAP with the cleaning lady that he doesn't think we need! Normally, I just ignore him, and let him walk around mumbling to no one in particular...he gets it out of his system and I don't have to deal with it for another 3 weeks.

But yesterday...They forgot to do the kitchen floor and powder room. Oh. My. God. So I call. And the woman could not have been more apologetic. Someone would come over the next day and clean the floor and powder room. So so so sorry.

Is it wrong that every cleaning day, I root for the cleaning lady to win in the fake battle my husband has with her, but is really with me? Is it wrong to be so emotionally invested that I feel like I lost when he finds something like the kitchen floor and claims the "I told you so" victory? Or to secretly smile to myself when all he can find wrong is a stray hair in the bathroom that probably fell out of my head 5 minutes ago?


Blogger girl who stopped the world said...

I'm not even sure how I found your blog here (I think it was googling something about 'newly weds' or something...bored at work...yeeeah.) but I have to let you know how much I enjoy your writing.

I'm recently married, and I can really relate to alot of what you write, about you and your hubby. Makes me happy. And thank you for your insight!

:) Anyhow, I added your link on my blog, so I hope you don't mind.

6:25 PM  
Blogger eM said...

I understand the dilemma, but really, it sounds like you work full time. Why the heck not have a cleaning lady? If you were a guy, living alone and working full time, people would not question you having a cleaning lady. Just because you're a woman and married does not mean you have to become super woman (just a super woman, which you are, so no worries there!).

I think the money/time argument makes a lot of sense. With our old house, we could have painted the trim, but it was cheaper to just pay someone to do it (didn't cost more than 2-3 days of work for me and the hubby).

Good luck in the 'battle.'

8:24 AM  
Blogger Clearlykels said...

Luckily, the definition of a wife has changed over the years. Thank goodness. Who could stand that pressure?

I think having someone come in and do the "heavy cleaning" every three weeks is nothing. Also, working full time and trying to get things perfect is a lot of pressure.

I cannot stant that I did not get any bathroom cleaning yesterday because I wanted to enjoy my day. I woke up early and did the kitchen to perfection but ran out of time and I was not compromising my plans. So, yeah, the kitty litter needs to be emptied and tub scrubbed. Well, there is always Wednesday night for those things... Keep your cleaning lady and just ignore the sighing.

10:13 AM  
Blogger Poppy Cede said...

Just for some perspective: I've been married to Hay for going on 6 years and I don't do laundry or clean bathrooms or vacuum or maintain the outside of the house. I do dishes, and clean up the kitchen (my domain of choice) and do the bills and mow the lawn. Why? BECAUSE I'M EFFING BUSY with a more than full-time job (on call 24/7/365) and my idea of winding down from work does not always entail cleaning the house. Hay and I share cooking duties because we both enjoy cooking, and I take care of the kitties by choice but sometimes he'll do a kitty chore as a bonding experience.

We don't have a cleaning person, but we also don't have much company over to the house because it's always pretty much a wasteland.

Don't worry yourself with this cleaning stuff. You're a busy person. Back in the 1950s the woman's sole job was to maintain the house and kids. Now our jobs are varied and the world is so much on fast forward we can barely keep up. You do what you can, and if that means having a cleaning lady then “soit” (pronounced swat, French for “so be it”). Hey, you even got a French lesson to boot! (Unless, of course, you're fluent. Then, you got nothin'. :P )

10:46 AM  
Blogger Josefina said...

I totally agree with you with the cleaning lady! I have one that comes EVERY week!! (ok, in my country that's not an embarrasing issue, everybody has nannies-cleaning ladies or whatsoever, full time, many of them "in-doors", that means they actually live where they work). Anyway it's much cheaper, I also pay her $90, but she comes 4 times a month (aprox $22 per time). And I really appreciate it, specially the ironing issue that I've never ever done it well.
So don't let your husband have it his way!!!!

11:22 AM  
Blogger Amy said...


I wonder perhaps, if hubby's objections have nothing to do with the money. From what you share, it doesn't seem that his normally so frugal. I wonder if maybe his love language is acts of service, or if he doesn't see cleaning the house as a sign of taking care of him, of loving him.

I don't mean to side with hubby, it just sounds like maybe there's more to it? Maybe even something he isn't articulating well?

Or maybe he's just being a booger-butt. Could be either!! lol

2:09 PM  
Blogger undercover celebrity said...

Guilt. Be. Gone.

I think we have all sorts of lofty, idealistic expectations of being super-wife, but you can't expected to be June Cleaver AND Murphy Brown. It's just not realistic. This is why we go to college and get good jobs. We spend extra time at the office so we can afford to have someone else do the dirty work.

If husband wants you to be the housekeeper, then he should refund you all of your college expenses.

If you want me to explain the genius of our capitalistic economy, I will gladly prepare something. :)

2:37 PM  
Anonymous Anne Glamore said...

You need the cleaning lady. You'll only need her more as life goes on. The things she is doing free you up to be a good wife in other ways.
You cannot do it all.

That said, my husband makes a point of fake complaining about the things our cleaning lady "hides" from him to make his life difficult.

I can totally relate!

4:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Listen. I live alone and have a cleaning lady who comes every other week - $60 a pop. I'm not messy, rarely cook, and prefer to have someone clean my bathtub. It's that simple. Just like I enjoy having someone cook my's called a restaurant. Do I feel guilty? No way. I work hard and choose to spend my money on certain things and time doing the things I enjoy. Life is too short to be wasted on the mundane. Seize the day!

1:19 AM  
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