Saturday, 2 April 2011

I think I love my cleaner

This week was the first week of having a cleaner. She is going to come once a fortnight for 2 hours and do all the basics. On the morning of her first visit I had wrestled about how much I should tidy up before she arrived. I made sure the floor was clear and there were no health department issues, but beyond that I just left it. It was challenging to have someone come into our home and see the proof of the fact that we have been just surviving. There is something about being a mother and the home as a reflection of your competence which makes me feel very vulnerable. I feel like the general mess and grime of our house was a visual representation of how I have been feeling inside. She could see my depression in all its pain and inability to manage.

Thankfully she is a very gentle and caring woman who was honest with me about her life and how she wants to work. And I was so proud of myself for being honest with her. And instead of escaping while she cleaned I just carried on doing things with Ella until it suited us to leave. As I watched her cleaning so carefully I wasn't filled with embarrassment or shame. Instead I felt such a joy and relief that it was something I wasn't going to have to worry about but not do anymore.

But this has led to me really questioning where all this baggage about cleaning and keeping house all comes from. Of course the image of the 1950s housewife with the perfect house, perfect child, meal on the table, kiss for the husband and perfectly groomed, is alive and well in our society. But there is a reason that "mothers little helpers" became so popular at that time. You can't exist as a person while trying to fulfill that stereotype. You can't be tired, or sick, or struggling or normal to be that mother. And I don't want to be, even if I could.

Instead I want to be able to enjoy time with Ella and Nick and not be thinking that all of our weekends and evenings and my days should be an endless list of chores to be done. And I want to be able to cook nice meals, but once I had done the bare minimum around the house, takeaways seemed like the only option for tea. And to be honest, I just want to enjoy my life. Survival is not enough for me. And I have enough to do with caring for Ella, working, trying to be a good partner to my husband and good to myself that paying someone to do the cleaning makes a lot of sense.

So here endeth justifying myself. And if you read this and find yourself judging me for not cleaning my own house then know that I couldn't give a hoot what you think cause I am too busy getting on with enjoying my life again. And what does it say about our society that women are responsible for the cleanliness of the house? I have always been a bit scathing about men driving cars as an extension of their own masculinity, but using the house as an extension of my competence as a mother, wife or woman is pretty sad too.


  1. Anonymous2:38 pm

    I love my cleaner too, no more Saturday mornings devoted to getting the house above Health Dept standards.
    All those extra jobs like walls etc done, money well spent.

  2. i think that is freaking awesome, and i really want to try and fit a cleaner into the budget. I have exactly the same feelings about competence as a woman/wife/mother when my house is disgusting, and i do dread getting up in the mornings when i know all i have to do to make the place nice. sooo happy for you!

  3. I seriously think we need a cleaner - with a 9 year old, a baby, and my husband and I with full time jobs - cleaning just doesn't get done. At this point I would be mortified if anyone just stopped by - and I want friends to be able to stop by :(

  4. Anonymous8:29 am

    Our dishwasher and the neighbour across the road who mows our lawn saved our marriage and boy oh boy I am not kidding! I totally get this post. This morning I cleaned the ranchslider windows where Duke (our English Pointer) has happily created some paw-mud-art. I have kept the curtains shut for weeks so I didn't have to look at them. Now they are clean, I'm wondering why I didn't just do it sooner because when I look at them now I love being able to see our back yard. The point is that I am having a little afternoon tea party today and I am more concerned about what others think than I am of how I want to live in my home. That scares me. I want to reach a point where I do it for me not just cos people are coming around. And Jo, I totally agree, I also want friends to be able to stop by. One time I made my friend stand on the porch and not come in. Our baby arrives in September and we are getting a cleaner - can't wait!

  5. Love this post, Marion. I have had a cleaner for the good part of the last 7 years and love it. I work, not full time, but almost full time, and don't want to devote my "free time" to cleaning. I just don't. I'm not ashamed to say it either.
    Good for you!