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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Moral Superiority is For the Dogs

A month ago my housekeeper quit.  We got home from our R&R Saturday night at eleven o'clock.  Sunday afternoon Brandon rolled over in bed and asked me if I had heard the doorbell ringing.  I hadn't heard it ring, but since it was three o'clock, I figured it was probably time to get up and feed everyone breakfast/lunch/early dinner.

As I stumbled down the front stairs lugging Joseph, my phone rang.  It was Asli, my housekeeper and she needed to 'talk about schedules' with me.  She was waiting outside.  I crawled over piles of luggage abandoned the night before in our front entryway to open the door and usher her in.  'You see,' she started in.  I knew where this was going.  'My daughter is in the hospital.  I can't work for you anymore starting tomorrow.  But my sister,' she waved to an unknown woman tagging along, 'is happy to work for you.'

I think maybe the door might have hit one of them on the butt as I hustled them out.

Sometimes I wish that people would just be honest and say 'I don't like working for you.  I think you're crazy and I hate your children.  I'm quitting.' instead of making up the same tired lie about a family member being in the hospital.

The truth is that Asli had been driving me crazy for quite a long time.  She had an amazing talent at hiding things in completely irrational places - camera chargers in toy bins, my hair product in the girls' jewelry drawer, nail clippers in the silverware drawer - because she was too lazy to put them up in the right places.  Her cooking declined steadily after she realized that I didn't care what she cooked until it was so bad that even Brandon started protesting.  I was always happy to see her go, even if it meant paying her until five and letting her leave at two.

But, the devil you know is always better than the devil you don't know, especially when you're leaving in less than five months.

I've now had three housekeepers quit/leave town on me.  I'm tired of having to train someone new and try to ignore their personal deficiencies (the housekeeper before Asli was incredibly slow), and so, I thought, maybe wouldn't it be just easier (and cheaper!) to just clean the house with the girls instead?  After all, lots of people in America clean their houses all by themselves and haven't died of overwork yet.

So I decided that I could be Super Housewife and do it all.  The first week started out okay.  On Tuesday I washed the laundry, split the folding with the girls, went to the grocery store with all four of the children, and put all of the laundry away.  And I made dinner.  All on four hours of sleep (thank you Unisom).  Because I'm awesome.

Wednesday, after finally getting a good night's sleep, the girls and I tackled the third floor.  Two hours later it was clean.  Hooray for our side!

Thursday I vacuumed all of the carpets and mopped all of the floors on the second floor while the girls cleaned all three bathrooms.  Really, cleaning isn't that bad.  How was I so scared of cleaning my own house?

Friday we were supposed to clean the bottom floor with the dreaded kitchen.  I hate cleaning kitchens.  So many things to scrub and wipe and keep track of.  So instead we went to the grocery store - all of us - again.  And I made home made pizza.  The kitchen wasn't that dirty anyway.

Monday it started again with the top floor and laundry.  At 8:30, I had finally finished cleaning up after dinner and realized something profoundly unsettling - I couldn't handle life, or at least all of it.

I could handle teaching school without anyone watching the boys.  I could handle doing all of my own laundry.  I could handle doing the ironing.  I could handle taking all of the children to the grocery store where we trailed cooing Azeri employees around the store.  I could even handle cooking my own dinner every night.  But I just couldn't handle doing all of those things and cleaning my house too.  Sadly, I wasn't even doing most of the cleaning - the girls were - and I still couldn't handle it.

But even worse than that, I realized after thinking more about my life, I actually could handle the management of cleaning my own house, I just didn't want to.  I didn't want to do it, and so I caved and called a friend whose housekeeper has a free day.  I'm still ashamed and try to think of valid excuses other than 'I'm too lazy' and even more ashamed that I try to come up with excuses instead of admitting that I'm plain old lazy and spoiled.

So, that's my brief foray into moral superiority.  It didn't last long.  I guess the warm glow just doesn't make up for every day reality.  Sigh.


PaulaJean said...

True confession. I love our housekeeper! Not only is she a great cook, but she puts things up in the right places. It would be hard to survive here without her.

sarahflib said...

Really, you could do it all but you would be a lot more tired and a lot more crazy. That doesn't seem worth it to me. I think we all have to choose what is most important to us. You're doing school on top of regular life. If you have the ability to hire a housekeeper and it will make your life easier and the cleaning is the thing you want to let go, then go for it and don't feel bad!

Charles McClelland said...

Great post - you should write a book about your adventures raising a family abroad!