You thought I was going to say something else. But nah, that’s too normal. And as far as I’ve been told, I’m not really anything near normal.
You know about my Mom. She’s not able to do very much right now, which includes cleaning, even though she’s feeling a little bit better. My childhood is made up of memories of weekend cleanings. That was what we did on the weekends…cleaned the house. Cleaned the yard. Cleaned the laundry. Etc. I always felt my mother was super-mom, because everything was always clean, even when she worked full time and took care of her husband and four children. She always made dinner after she got home from work. There were no dust bunnies, no dirty bathrooms, no laundry tossed on the floor. This was how we lived. I didn’t give it much thought growing up because it was how I was raised and how I lived. That didn’t mean I liked it, but it was how we were. Not to say that my room wasn’t always a mess, and she was always telling me to clean it up, but the rest of the house was…so clean.
No matter what house they lived in, how big or how small, my mother kept it clean. When I moved out on my own, I became intimidated by how clean her house always was. I started worrying about how clean my house wasn’t, especially when someone was coming over. If I knew my mother was coming to visit (from a whole 30 minutes away), I would spend an entire day cleaning the house from top to bottom, to make sure I wasn’t embarrassed when she came in. Did she ever inspect? No. Did she noticed if it was clean “enough”? Probably not. But that was how it was for me…worrying about being ashamed of how clean my how wasn’t.
When I got sick and couldn’t clean, it was left to Hub. Which kind of meant the house was sort of clean. It was never as clean as my mother’s house, and I almost always had to ASK him to clean, but he tried his hardest. And I tried not to freak over it. I’m not a neat-freak. But I do have a thing about clean bathrooms and a clean kitchen. At some point I told my mother that there was just no way I could vacuum and mop and keep the house spotless for her visits. She very bluntly said, “Who asked you to?”
So at that point, I started relaxing about the dog hair. About the dog drool. The doggie footprints. The grass she dragged in on her fur. I still wanted the bathrooms and kitchen cleaned, but I wasn’t obsessive over it. When Hub got a bonus one year, we tried to put the money aside to have someone come clean the bathrooms and kitchen, but I was never happy with the results. We tried several different people, but I always felt we could do a better job and it didn’t cost us precious money that we could have used elsewhere. So we stopped trying new cleaning people and went back to our old routine.
My grandmother had a cleaning lady who came once a week to do the heavy work. For many many years. It was a luxury she felt she wanted to afford. That was back in the day when cleaning “lady” mean someone who really cleaned, who kept her clients for years and years and years. Not someone who zipped in and out, just making a few extra dollars. But my mother was tight with her budget, and never wanted to hire anyone. I think it was part of her identity to keep a clean house, and to make sure her family was always fed, even when she worked full time.
So now, here’s Mom, who can barely get around, and whose energy is pretty close to nil. And my father, he never had to clean because Mom always did it. So when Mom went downhill with her health, I went to her and said I wanted to hire someone to come in and clean the big things…scrub the kitchens and bathrooms at least, maybe run a vacuum on the stairs because that’s difficult to do. She seemed almost relieved. She said the bathrooms were beginning to smell, but she told me that she would only do it if we did it, too. I think she was trying to gift me something because of all the time I was spending at her house. So I said sure, we could “share” a cleaning service. They could spend a few hours here doing our kitchen and bathrooms, then go to her house and do the same. So I set about looking for someone. In the meantime, Mom told Dad what we were doing. And Dad got mad.
It’s been a couple of weeks since we talked about getting a service in to clean. As we speak, there are six women cleaning my house. Doing more than I asked. Paying no attention to our big dogs or the fact that there are tumbleweeds of dog hair all over. They’re flipping up couches, cleaning my laundry room (even though I said not to bother), and they’re making the house smell so good. (Sorry, got distracted. Heh.)
Dad got mad. He told my mother HE could clean the house, why were we bringing someone in. So she told him the bathroom smelled, and it would be easier on everyone if someone came in every two weeks and just did the hard scrubbing. He got upset. Said he could handle it. I tried to tell him it wasn’t that he wasn’t doing a good job, it was that this was something someone else could do, so he could focus on Mom. It was supposed to be a relief…something to take off his shoulders and his mind. Instead of reassuring him, it upset him further. When I would go over to see if they needed anything or to spend time, I’d catch him running a small vacuum in the kitchen. Mom told me she could smell the Comet he used in the bathroom…but then she’d tell me he had no idea how to clean a bathroom. That he missed inside the toilet under the rim, or outside the toilet, or the top of the toilet tank. That he was trying, but he’d never had to do it, so it wasn’t his fault that he was missing things.
I tried again to tell him this was a good thing. That someone else could focus on the heavy cleaning and he could focus on Mom. He’s still mad. Soon we’ll be taking the ladies over to Mom’s to clean, so I called to warn them we’d be over soon. He answered the phone. He’s still mad.
Honestly, if this crew works out, I’ll be happy. I hate cleaning, and I most importantly hate cleaning bathrooms. The scrubbing is too hard on me, and although Hub tries, he’s not really good at it, either. He never cleans behind the hinges of the toilet seat. It’s just…gross. At the moment, although I know they may have missed a few details, these women are working hard and doing a ton. I’ll be okay with pointing out (next time) what I would like them to focus on better.
I’m sure the house will be messy again soon. We have dogs. I have a husband. It’s bound to happen. But I can’t wait to go pee in that clean bathroom. I might have to drink an entire glass of water so I can go pee in another clean bathroom. Jeezus I’m weird. Don’t tell anyone.
I am trying really hard not to feel guilty about having someone else clean parts of my house. Cleaning was part of my Mom’s identity, but it isn’t part of mine. I will admit, though, that I did get up to sweep the dining room after the women got here. Plus, we spent a day yesterday de-cluttering so that the women could do a thorough job more easily. So yeah, we’ll have to learn to de-clutter before they come for their appointment to clean–which is also weird…who cleans before the cleaning people come?–but it’ll be a good habit to get into I think.
So, now I’m adding on to the post because the cleaning crew left. When I say crew, I’m serious about that. It was seven women, including the owner, to do both houses. And before you pass out, yes, both houses are kind of big. We didn’t expect them to clean the whole house (either of them), but they came pretty close. The owner says for the first appointment, they like to be as thorough as possible so that subsequent cleanings will be easier and faster. And subsequent cleanings will not require seven people.
They did a pretty good job. I didn’t get to inspect everything, and I know there are a couple of spots that didn’t get done the way I would like, but I hope to give them another opportunity to come in and clean again. Also, it was a little creepy because they remade our bed. They fixed the pillows up against the headboard, then remade the bed. Like my mother when I was younger and she didn’t like the way I made my bed. LOL Also, it is a little frustrating for me that they moved things to clean and then didn’t put them back in the right place. I know it’s petty because they touch a lot of stuff and can’t be expected to remember where everything goes back in everyone’s house, it’s just weird to walk into the room and see your nightstand completely rearranged. Or your desk.
Hopefully Mom feels better with her house cleaned. I know at least I don’t have to think about it for the time being. Of course, an hour after the cleaners left, Butthead drooled on the clean tile floor. *sigh*