Guest blogger Jenny Isenman debates the age-old question to clean or not to clean.
Jenny is a freelance writer/humor columnist and wiper of noses, tushies and countertops. She has two perfect children, a boy who is 7 and a girl who is 4.
She has a fabulously funny and relatable Suburban Jungle blog: It May Be Suburbia, But it's a Jungle Out There.
I remember the days before I found a regular housekeeper. I cleaned a lot!
In fact, I could do nothing else around my house until it was clean. I would clean in the morning, watch my kids immediately undo my work, and then clean the same stuff all over again.
I would Swiffer at 9 a.m. when they went to school and at 9 p.m. when they went to bed. Each time I was amazed at how long it took to clean the house and how quickly it became undone.
I made up fascinating “cleaning games” to justify not spending time playing Nerf dart tag or doing spin art like the “good Mommies” did.
Our play was much more educational. I honed my son’s eye for detail and fine motor skills: “Jake, let’s see if you can match the socks and roll them neatly into pairs.”
I knew Jake was a true genius the day he found matches for the 23 mate-less socks I had been rewashing for a year.
I taught my daughter about the nuances of tone and hue: “Ryan, which colors are dark and which are light?”
I considered asking my husband for help, but the truth is, to watch him try and clean could send us straight to divorce court. He would say, “Just do it once a day, why waste your time?”
If you want the job done right (i.e. your way) you have to do it yourself.
I couldn’t delegate because I was too disappointed in the way someone would load my dishwasher. Loading a dishwasher takes serious problem-solving skills and visual prowess; done correctly, it is an algorithm of perfectly fitting pieces with not a single one to spare.
Okay, I’m beginning to sound pathetic, but some of you actually get what I’m saying. You know who you are, you’re the ones thinking: "Please, my dish-loading could kick your $*."
Well, you know what I say? Bring it!
I was so vehemently against having help because I was sure it would reflect on some inability to be a good Mother/Housewife (a title I never thought I would covet the way that I do).
However, my need to have “a life” won out and I hired someone.
After a single day I felt like screaming “FREEDOM!” while swooshing down a mountain with a cool breeze on my face, or into a deep echoing canyon while blowing my Riccola horn.
But, alas, Florida is flat.
So, I traipsed into the lake (swamp) in our backyard, and screamed at the top of my lungs.
As soon as I zigzagged back into my house, I considered all of my options: Grocery shop, get Starbucks with a friend, shop for my kids, get a mani/pedi, shop for myself, go to the gym, get Starbucks again.
My days were filled with endless monotony and it was exhilarating.
Of course some days I was too tired from all the shopping and Starbucks, so we lazed on the sofa together and watched Sponge Bob.
Each day I returned to a neat and straightened house, with clean clothes and an organized pantry.
I began saying things that gave away control like, “You know, I don’t care if you rearrange my drawers, whatever is easier for you.” I had to make phone calls to find out where my daughter’s stuffed kitty and my new Hogan bag were, and I reveled in it.
So, I decided to write again. Three weeks later, I felt reborn and my Amex felt dejected, jumping out of my bag anytime we so much as drove past a retail store.
My Amex, however, wasn’t the only one let down. A week later my housekeeper told me she was offered a job at a physical therapist’s office. I said, “Are you kidding me? Who do you expect to do my laundry, clean the kitty litter, the dog pee, the garage… me? I had that job once, it sucked!” Luckily, when I talk fast she doesn’t understand a word.
Then I slowly said “You have to take it, congratulations!” and gave her a huge hug.
She still comes about five hours a week because in her own words: “I’ll help as much as I can. I know how much you need me.”
Apparently, she’s never seen me load a dishwasher, but if you don’t tell, I won’t either.
Jenny has a forthcoming book titled C://Mom Run: Stories from the world's most-harried mommy bloggers.
> Discuss this entry