Friday, June 06, 2008


I hired a charming young lady to come help me clean today and I feel so weird about it. I've done this exactly twice before. The first time I had been sick with bronchial crud for weeks and Passover was rapidly approaching. A group of homeschooled teens were trying to raise money for a trip to Washington DC so it felt like a good thing to help them out and let them help me out. And they were awesome--my own teen has shown no such work ethic around here. The second paid house cleaner came the day before The Dark Lord's bar mitzvah. She was a friend of a friend in a bit of a tight spot so I felt like I was doing her a favor.

This time I had a young woman in my class who was trying to get her housecleaning business off the ground. A few weeks ago I helped her make fliers and business cards and arranged to have her come work for me a time or two before the bar mitzvah. As happens all too often with my students, she's disappeared. She hasn't come to class in a couple of weeks and her voice mail is full. For all I know, she's been deported which at least means she gets to be with her son again so it wouldn't be all bad. For whatever reason, she's gone.

Thus, I ended up searching Craigslist the other night and came up with Sarah who promised to bring her own eco-friendly cleaning supplies. She showed up on time and got to work and has been going non-stop all afternoon.

The thing is, it feels weird to me. I don't know that I'll ever be one of those folks who finds housekeeping to be a deeply spiritual practice. But it does seem that I should be able to manage far better than I do. Mostly I just ignore anything beyond the basics of clean dishes and clothes. When forced (usually due to impending visitors) to clean properly I start out with the best of intentions, wander into another room to put something away, and thus begins a seemingly infinite sequence of distractions at the end of which I find myself both exhausted and baffled by how little I managed to accomplish.

The fabulous Sarah has been working nonstop for the past 3 hours. I've tried to move some of the junk out of her way but she doesn't seem to mind. I imagine that since it's not her junk, it's not a big deal to just work around things rather than get bogged down in decisions about what goes where.

I did a few paid housekeeping stints myself when I was younger and always felt resentful and somewhat superior in that I was sure I'd always be able to clean up my own messes. Hiring someone to clean? How lame. How bourgeois. But that was before kids. These days I find the chaos overwhelming and there's always something or someone demanding my attention more loudly than my kitchen floor. I want to be that serene mother who keeps things under control. I always think that, given a free weekend, I can get it together. Well this is the last weekend before the bar mitzvah and I finally know when I'm beat. I still have a lot of things to do that only I can do so it's not the worst thing in the world to have someone handle the cleaning, is it?

1 comment:

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Enjoy having help. It's a good thing.

The weekend before N.'s Bar Mitzvah we had 6 feet of snow on the ground and the county was warning us to be careful because the fire engines would get up the mountain! All my plans were toast.

N.'s Bar Mitzvah was beautiful and enjoyable. But the decorations were very plain. I could not park at party city until the day before...