It is happening again.
My house is clean. I get time to put everything in its place, give each room a thorough scrubbing, and for a moment, it sparkles. The air is scented with an artificial interpretation of what the rainforest smells like. We can sit on the couch without our clothes attracting enough cat hair to stuff a decorative throw pillow. Everyone retires to beds made with clean sheets while wearing freshly laundered pajamas.
And all of this for the low, low price of all of my time during the day when I should have been watching my kids, but instead sat them in front of the TV, along with all of my free time for several days, and likely, an entire weekend thrown in too.
The best part? I have two small children, and by the time I wake up the next morning, everything is a literal shithole again. It’s enough to cause any woman to retreat into a life filled with housecoats and chain smoking.
No one really says they’re choosing to become a housewife anymore. I did not sign up to be the wife of my house. I chose to be a stay-at-home mom. The role has shifted, and the moniker suggests that the focus has too, but the responsibilities have only increased. My job isn’t just to keep the house clean. It’s to make healthy meals that require me to chop up an ungodly amount of produce. It’s to play with my kids and cherish this time because they grow up so fast but are simultaneously not growing fast enough.
You know why women in the 1950s had such clean houses? Because they weren’t expected to do any of that other shit. They threw ground meat and condensed soup in a casserole dish and dinner was served. Their kids entertained themselves and were usually off somewhere in the neighborhood poking some dead thing with a stick until it was time to head home for that meat-soup dinner. And also because patriarchy, but that’s a rant for another day.
I am not someone who functions well in a messy house. My house is frequently messy, make no mistake. But I, myself, am usually functioning at threat level orange, and that is directly correlated to how messy my house is and how long it has been messy. By the time my house is finally clean again, I’ve exhausted myself into a stupor and can finally chill the hell out for eight minutes.
So I’m calling it. It’s time. And I should have done this years ago.
I am hiring a housekeeper.
Oh, hell yes, I am.
I want to be a mom. I want to prepare healthy meals for my family. I want time in my day when I can do frivolous things for myself like get a little exercise so my limbs don’t calcify in my 40s. Maybe take a shower? But all of those things wind up coming second to the keeping of our home, and I’m tired of putting important things last — especially when some of those important things are the basic care and maintenance of me.
Every two weeks, someone is going to come into my home and wipe down my baseboards, vacuum and mop my floors, scrub my bathrooms, and clean my windows. Someone besides me is going to dust and tidy and disinfect. I will be left with the regular day-to-day care of my home, but without the crushing stress of knowing I need to find time to complete the big stuff.
I have thought about making this leap many times. But I always stop myself. It feels wasteful to spend money on chores when I could be doing them. But that’s just the thing: I am not doing them. And the chances of my habits changing tomorrow are pretty slim. The chances of my day-to-day operations improving, however, are high if I no longer have the nagging feeling that I should be sorting socks instead of playing with my kids or doing work that I actually enjoy.
We are far from rich, but I can make this work by limiting spending in other areas and keeping a stricter budget. I will make this work.
With as much pressure as we women place on each other and on ourselves to be “on” at all hours, running on all cylinders, something is bound to give. I’m tired of that something being my health and happiness, sacrificed beneath the altar of all-purpose cleaner.
I will feel no guilt. I will feel no shame. I will only feel stoked as hell that I have some extra time in my days to do whatever the hell I want. (Spoiler alert: It’s not dusting.)