Sunday, September 14, 2014

The dirty truth about my clean house

It has taken me several years to adjust to the idea that I pay someone to clean my house. But over time, I have evolved from vaguely self-conscious about it to unapologetically celebratory.
Every two weeks, I come through the door -- late, tired, hauling my laptop, my backpack, my gym bag -- and my house is clean. And it smells good. And everything is shiny and pretty. It's my absolute favorite day, every single time.
I spent a lot of years cleaning my house. For that matter, I grew up helping(ish) my mom clean our house because people who live in their houses keep them clean, right? Right.
And I hated it. Hated it when I was a kid, hated it as an adult. Because who doesn't hate it?
But I kept doing it, year after year, for all the usual reasons. Someone has to do it. And my husband will kind of do it, but he's terrible at it. And my sons will kind of do it, but they do it wrong. And really, I'm the one who deeply craves all this cleanliness and order, so I guess that means I'm the one who's gotta scrub and dust and scrape and mop and vacuum.
So I did and I did and I did, even after I became the full-time breadwinner for our family. Monday through Friday, I worked. Saturday and Sunday I cleaned.
Then my dad got me a treat. As a brilliant gift, he paid for the most incredible, wonderful woman on the planet to come deep-clean my house. She spent five hours doing her magic, and the clean that happened there that day was a whole new level of expert clean that I don't even have the vocabulary to describe.
And I had a revelation. "In addition to hating cleaning my house, I am terrible at cleaning my house," I told her. "I cannot live without you. Please don't leave me."
She laughed and laughed. She would not tell me the magical secrets of how she got all the things so clean (the tile! I have never gotten tile that clean!), but she was absolutely willing to come back and do it again. And it was amazing how quickly I managed to find the money in our budget for that.
"I'm being smart," I told my husband. "I'm outsourcing work to a contractor who has much deeper expertise in this area. It's ultimately a huge efficiency gain at a moderate cost."
"Cool," he said.
Unexpected bonus: Happier marriage. Because my husband and I never fight any more about cleaning the house. And I never spend my Saturday afternoon cleaning our bathroom and hating him because cleaning bathrooms makes me hate all men.
Now, about the yard...