First World Problems

I just booked an appointment with a housekeeping service to come and do a “deep cleaning” of our home. I actually wasn’t going to write about this at all, because I’ve read enough tortured, self-justifying blog posts by feminists who can’t stomach the idea of letting another woman scrub their toilets (but who, nonetheless, don’t want to do it themselves) that I certainly don’t want to contribute to the genre.

But the truth is I am not tortured at all. I’ve posted on this subject before, but when I first quit my job in anticipation of Robin’s arrival, I guess I probably had some idea that it would be amusing and frivolous to “play house” for awhile in 50’s style aprons. The reality of childcare and housekeeping slapped me on both sides of my face pretty quickly. I’ve done a one-eighty, and now am prepared to fiercely battle anyone who belittles traditional “women’s work.” It’s necessary work, it’s hard work, it’s honorable work, and I’m pretty sure that the stigma against housewives in modern American culture is just a symptom of ingrained sexism.

So because I now completely respect this women’s work, I don’t have a shred of guilt in paying another woman to do it for me. Frankly, between my two little boys I barely have the time (and physical reserves) to get dinner on the table and keep the house in some superficial semblance of order. The deep cleaning is not getting done, and I’ve started to notice ants crawling across the floors and between the cushions of the sofa. I have this choice: a) park my toddler in front of the TV and let my infant scream while I clean the house properly; b) live in squalor; or c) pay another woman a fair living wage to do the housecleaning for me, because women have wised up and you can no longer get a decent housekeeper for less than thirty-five dollars an hour (plus tips), at least in the Bay Area.

I find C a no-brainer. Providing for our new housekeeper in the budget won’t be trivial, but if we’re being infested with ants while my husband is home and contributing to the daily routine, I shudder to think of how things will get once he goes back to work. I did the research, I made the calls, and our housekeeper will be here for the first time next Wednesday. I feel an overwhelming sense of relief, and nothing else.

So I’m posting this as a kind of counterbalance to all the whinging, self-flagellating posts by self-described feminists who nonetheless cannot wrap their heads around the idea that housecleaning might be a suitable occupation for an adult woman. The emotion you are looking for is not guilt, it’s gratitude—and just about the same level of gratitude that you’d feel towards a competent plumber who stopped your toilet from spraying sewage everywhere. It’s a job. It’s hard job, a necessary job, an honorable job: so tip your housekeeper, and be grateful.

7 Responses to “First World Problems”

  • Amy Says:

    Amen! I’m a horribly inconsistent housekeeper; it’s either feast of famine around these parts. The house is either a total mess or I’m a super harpy, blowing a gasket over the strewn socks, food crumbles, or whathaveyous. I have issues. Anyway, a couple of years ago we started with our house cleaner. She’s god sent, and worth every penny. I profusely thank her every time she’s her. I just wish I could afford to have her in every week, or every day, truth be told, but not in this life. I wish I’d known you were looking for someone. If your new housekeeper doesn’t work out, let me know and I’ll pass on her number.

    • shannon Says:

      I will! I just looked on Yelp, and found an eco-friendly, legal service with decent reviews. If they don’t work out, I’ll definitely ask you for a rec.

  • Dom Says:

    I award your attitude a gold star for not sucking! 😀

  • Maike Says:

    That’s a huge deal!

    I found somebody when my Robin turned one (and the addition was done) and haven’t looked back- Daisy comes every Thursday for about 2.5 hours and $60 (legal, pays taxes, green because she uses our stuff, I help her with marketing).

    I love coming home to a clean floors and bathrooms on Thursdays but most of all I love the consistency it’s pushed on my decluttering habits.

    Every Wednesday night I spend about 1.5 hours putting stuff away in preparation for Daisy which means the clutter never gets out of hand. Plus, even if she doesn’t show up due to sickness or whatever, the house is decluttered and feels ‘clean’.

    I also now try to have ‘people with kids’ over before Thursday and ‘people without kids or people I need to kind of impress’ on Thursdays 🙂

    Oh, and one more benefit is with guests. We tend to have family and others over for longer periods and it makes people feel more comfortable that I’m not doing the main cleaning. This seems trivial but turns out to be a big deal since in our household we each are specialized in the historical gender roles. I manage the food, cooking and cleaning etc which gets awkward for guests since they feel they cause me too much work. Personally, I am quite willing to trade a little extra work for lots of extra loving attention for kids :))

    So um, yes, find a house cleaner can be life changing! Congrats on taking the step.

    • shannon Says:

      That’s a good point about guests — we’re having a lot of them what with the new baby. Unfortunately Pops and Mo are arriving this weekend, and the housekeeper doesn’t come until Wednesday!

  • Jennifer Says:

    Oh, I so agree. I’ve worked in domestic service and it was an excellent job for that stage in my life, when I had so few marketable skills.

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