I Have Horrible Guilt & Discomfort About Not Being Able to Keep My Own House

Why do I feel like a failure hiring a cleaning person? Heteronormative brainwashing? Have I not shaken the paranoid drug-house privacy thing?

Apr 19, 2012 at 10:00am | Leave a comment

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I have tremendous guilt and weird feelings over having a person come clean our apartment sometimes.

I used to flat-out refuse. My husband, Mike, was a bachelor (basically) until age 40 and always had “cleaning ladies.” When he started suggesting we have someone come in a couple of times a month to scrub up the place, I was surprisingly panicky and negative. I think we’ve only actually had someone clean twice in the three years since he proposed it. The third visit from a maid service is scheduled for Friday. Ugh?

There are many issues at play. The strongest and most irrational of these would be the lingering drug-house paranoia. For my years of drinking and drugging, family visits to my home were few, infrequent or non-existent. I didn’t need people “looking through my stuff” or judging how I lived (lest they love me enough to demand a change I wouldn’t deliver).

This included non-drug items such as self-indulgent diaries, love letters, photos -- I specialized in a lot stuff that wasn’t for outsiders’ eyes.

After several years of clarity, I now realize no one gives a shit about my ephemera and there’s just 100 percent no drugs or paraphernalia around me anymore; I don’t have to live like all my brutal secrets are about to undo me.

The next gnawing discomfort for me is the stupid heteronormative societal brainwashing that I should be able to clean my own home and any failure to do so reveals some deep shortcoming and makes me a terrible wife/woman. Hahaahahha, that’s not exactly what I mean.

It’s more like, when I first moved in with my now husband, I was underemployed and extremely uncomfortable as basically a dependent. I tried to make up for my financial imbalance with housewifey services; I cooked, cleaned, shopped, etc to an extent I just don’t have to time to anymore.

Returning to irrationality, when Mike suggests a cleaning person, I feel it as an insult or judgment on my housekeeping skills, and supposedly, it just isn’t.

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An excuse I can no longer use that was popular for a couple of years is “I AM a domestic, I can’t HAVE a domestic.” Very flip and insulting and dramatic, I know.

I had a big chip on my shoulder during my time as a nanny. Not being a career nanny (but with a background in early childhood development), I had the tendency to feel like an aunt or someone who…wasn’t an employee of the family. There was the occasional power move to remind me I did accept a paycheck and coupled with my inability to say no when extra errands and non-contract duties came up, I felt a little dehumanized and resented my “yes, mum” position at times.

 Can the nanny have a cleaning lady? Of course. Just because I bitterly emptied some dishwashers and trashcans doesn’t mean that cleaning houses isn’t a brilliant, necessary job and fantastic way to support yourself and your family. “If your want a job done, hire a professional” is an excellent way to live.

 Do you get the feeling this is all leading to a big confession? No? Well, it is: I’m a life-long slob. Yuck. It hurts to say it. I don’t support filth and garbage, but my organizational skills are hella loose. I struggle to prioritize putting laundry or dishes away. I forget to sweep. I want a self-cleaning tub.

Basically, I’m the perfect candidate for a cleaning person every couple of weeks (who surely judges me as a three-dimensional Pigpen). I wouldn’t notice a cobweb unless it fell in my iced tea and then I’d just let it serve as evidence that I’m cursed and deserve a low life.

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 So ridiculous. I guess I need slob-acceptance and the ability to lighten up and take Mike’s offer for an occasional maid as the loving gesture that it is and something that can only make our home more pleasant. And healthy. I’ve been home sick for two days and all I can think is “Blecch, this place is a wreck, who’s in charge here?”

Anyway. Friday’s appointment is set and I’ll have to fill you in later on how Mike’s announcement that he found “a nice hipster couple with good Yelp reviews” plays out. (I’m inventorying my zines and records in advance.)

 How do you feel about cleaning services? All for them or DIY for life?

What are your tips for either not being a slob, or embracing outside help?

Follow Rachel on Twitter @RachelMcPadden