Sometimes things happen that make me feel weird about myself.
If you’ve been paying any sort of attention, you’ll know (from the forty-three references that I’ve made to it) that we’ve recently moved house. Our house is beautiful. We love our house. We’ve even sort of got used to the thumpy neighbours, in that we only spend two or three evenings a week idly discussing our favourite ways to bump them off without getting caught/damaging their property (and ours, via the party wall) in the process. We have a small but perfectly adequate garden. The location is good, on a sunny plot, in a nice area. So, you’d think I could just be grateful with what I have. Well. You’d think that, but this is me, after all. Miserable, ungrateful me. And, it seems, unbearably middle-class me.
What we don’t love about our house is the time it takes to clean it*.
You know what? Before I even write any further, let me just make it clear that I know exactly how that makes me sound. It makes me sound petulant, spoiled and the sort of person who would quite happily sit eating expensive chocolates while an exploited eastern European skivvies on my behalf, thus freeing up more time for me to have my nails painted and bitch about whatever friends I’m not currently sitting around bitching with. Well, I’m not that person at all.
What I am (for “I am” read “we are”) is Busy. I work full-time. So does the Other Half. This means getting up at six thirty every weekday morning to get Small Person to school/Breakfast Club, and arriving home at around six every night after picking her up from the childminder. The exceptions to this are Wednesday night (when I have to bring her home, give her a bath because she spends the following three nights with her father and he appears to have forgotten where the bathroom is in his house, and take her over to his parents’ house because although he protests that he “doesn’t see enough” of Small Person, he routinely goes out every Wednesday and she sleeps there), Thursday (grocery shopping) and Friday (by which time we feel we’ve earned an early curry and a few drinks). In between all this, Other Half has two evening football sessions, and Small Person has spellings, general homework and an additional project to work on, all of which require parental supervision. There is laundry to do, dinner to cook, dishwasher to load/empty, more laundry and do you know what? This whole paragraph just makes me sound even worse, doesn’t it? Whine, whine, whine.
The bottom line (and the bit I struggle with) is this. We feel that we work hard enough during the week. We have a fairly large house. It has two-and-a-half bathrooms, three and a half bedrooms , grillions of stairs and a lot of stainless steel things in the kitchen**. We both resent spending so much time at the weekend, when Small Person is away, doing nothing but cleaning. We know that we are lucky to have time to ourselves – please bear in mind, however, that my feelings of good fortune are tempered by the fact that I have to spend one day of the weekend, albeit with the man I love, bereft of the company of my precious Small Person. Being up to my elbow in any one of our three toilets just tends to make me feel worse***.
So we’ve employed a cleaner. Well, two cleaners actually (but that wasn’t our idea, honest). To do what we are perfectly capable of doing ourselves.
I am trying to understand why this makes me feel guilty. We are using a reputable agency which is as committed to safeguarding the rights and reputations of their staff as it is to promising us a reliable, honest service. We can (just about) afford to pay a rate that ensures that whoever comes to clean our house is doing so for a fair wage. We work hard, and are fully entitled to utilise a service that lets us maximise the time we do have spare. I thought I would be worried about a stranger being in my house and rifling through my knicker drawer/eating all the hobnobs/hooting with derision at all the Jackie Collins books in the study. Instead, I’m more worried about what people will think of me, and am doomed to become the sort of person who cleans the house because the cleaner’s coming tomorrow.
* Disclaimer: I will not be entering into any sort of actual moral discussion regarding the ethical rights and wrongs of employing someone to undertake a task that I am capable of completing myself. I am not making any assumptions/offering any generalisations regarding the potential gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or lifestyle choice of any prospective person who may or may not undertake to clean my private residence. Seriously, if you want to get into all that, please go somewhere else and do it – this is not your platform. I’m just thinking out loud on this blog, not seeking approbation/condemnation from anyone who feels moved to comment. Hell, nobody’s saying you can’t agree or disagree with me, and I’ll defend your right to do so. But I’m shallow, you see, and lazy, and at this stage I’m more worried about whether a cleaner will tell his/her friends that my towels are shabby and mismatched, and whether I am indeed turning into my mother. See? Shallow.
** Yes, it has a living room as well. I just became aware that I was just listing rooms. And now I’m making it worse. Bugger.
*** See?! See how I attempted to justify myself there by making out that cleaning toilets makes me feel worse about not seeing my daughter/ruining her life****? Talk about your avoidance of responsibility.
**** Can anyone recommend some sort of therapy to help me just, I don’t know, get over all this already? Even I’m bored now.