the cleaning ladies and mrs hyde


the cleaning ladies are coming today. this is never good for anything –and i mean ANYthing– within a 12-foot radius of my person that is considered the remotest bit inconsequential.

having the cleaning ladies come is a luxury and like binge-drinking, overshopping, gambling and reckless behavior, for some, it is something for me, that will likely have me wind up in rehab.

i am not a nice person when i am preparing for the cleaning ladies.

some women get PMS and turn into comPLETE banshees. i get PCLS: pre cleaning ladies syndrome and i morph into this crazed, maniacal, anti-ecosystem/anti-green, anti-child, anti-fun, anti-leisure reading, anti-just-livin’-the-comfortable-existence entity. ask my husband.

i feel judged by my cleaning ladies. they don’t understand a blessed word i say; however, when i ask them hopefully and self-depricatingly: “so, are other houses just as bad?” they smile at me and watch the dog walk by and say “bonito perro. bonito… sí sí…” and then nod at each other and say “lahga gadada lekiko mika la dida de larade luto de miga de lolo de koko ahhhh… mi garto de linga…ja ja ja” as they climb up my stairs and enter the domains where we slumber. i shudder because well… i know there’s a sock somewhere it doesn’t belong. don’t get me wrong: i have MAD respect for these women. they shame me. but we can’t relate. i wish i spoke spani-ko-chi-reek. i just don’t. and on the days they arrive: i’m barely rational, so my aspirations to chat with them about the Susan G. Komen bull$hit that is happening right now is unlikely. uh-oh… i feel a digression coming on…

focus. focus.

i can’t have the cleaning ladies more frequently than every 2 weeks. it’s not because of finances (well, i’m sure that’s a factor too) but rather it’s because my husband and my children need a wife and mother and sentient human in their lives. i would literally HANG FROM A BRIDGE (with no intention of dropping, mind you) to just escape the reality of preparing for the cleaning ladies. i become a rabid, seething, insane person before they come.



it’s like a sheet from the book of revelations is tacked on the refrigerator or some biblical prophecy around here before they come… my kids don’t fear a plague of locusts or frogs or even the seven horsemen of the apocalypse… what they fear is MOM preparing for the cleaning ladies.


like any rational, normal and sane person you might ask, “mol, why do you do this? why don’t you just let them come and not freak or prepare for them?” and i would say, “because EVERYTHING is not where it belongs when they leave if i don’t prep for them. they can’t vacuum if there are legos everywhere… they can’t dust if the homework and backpacks are on the dining room table…”

to maintain our marriage and keep the cleaning ladies coming, we’ve decided that the playroom is switzerland and if the kids don’t get it ready, then those legos (which are from denmark or something) can get sucked up in the Oreck (which sounds danish) and that’s close enough to switzerland for me.

339 days of the year, i like the idea of recycling. i endeavor to have more in my recycling bin than in my trash. often this is the case. but on pre-cleaning ladies day… EVERYTHING goes. what makes me unhinged is when they come over and they take a 1/2 full (see, i’m an optimist at heart) garbage bag and throw it out. i am instantly thrown into traction.

339 days of the year, i like to read The Week, The WSJ, Vanity Fair, a BOOK. but not on the day they come… i lump it all together — from the WSJ to Thing 3’s coloring book of trucks — and it goes into some crazy pile of literature blessed with the craven spirit of “WHY THE @)(#&%! don’t we read this @)(%@ when it first comes out… why does it have to @$%()@*% sit around for 13 days before these people come again?!”

i blame my junk drawer’s advanced evolution on the cleaning ladies. it has 2 tiers. there’s an >snort< organizer from IKEA (a beloved destination of mine, but one that inspires me to think EKTORP and HEMNES and BOND´E are words i absolutely don’t want to include in a discussion at a cocktail party…) which rests upon a melánge of pencils, chapsticks, toothbrushes, coin-shaped batteries, finger paint, glue sticks, hair cutting shears (for the dog and occasional kid — i’ll blog about our Flo-Bie later), paper clips and a compass, an air pressure gauge for car tires, old credit cards, new credit cards, food coloring tubes, capless magic markers, an incense pad that holds the product to prevent it from setting my house ablaze, iPod USBs, ponytail holders, rubber bands, game pieces from board games … Monopoly houses, sugar packets (?!), spongebob erasers, lego heads… a sewing kit from a hotel, hotel soaps… i mean, really. it’s nuts. no, i actually found a packet of crushed nuts from a sundae kit in the drawer.

but what happens when they come and they see things on my counter that they don’t know what to do with? a third tier in the junk drawer is born because they take a magazine and put it on top of the crap i already have and clearly don’t want to deal with, and then put the things they don’t want to deal with on top of that. and so when we come out of hiding after they leave, i instantly go to the junk apartment and try to make sense of it.

i have them come because i don’t want to do the things they do AT ALL. i don’t mind vacuuming and i keep a tidy kitchen and i believe in clean sheets, etc., but i don’t wanna clean the toilets, scrub the tub, clean the microwave and the toaster oven. i don’t want to wipe down the glass doors (but i will) and so when they come, there are things i do that they don’t and their doing the things they do allows me to do the things they don’t: wash the baseboards, wipe down the doors and other disease prevention tasks.

another reason i have them come is pure vanity. i recall a “Law & Order” episode where my beloved Vincent D’Onofrio (“Bobby Goren”) and his partner “Alex Eames” (i don’t know the actress’s name, i don’t care about her) enter a crime scene. the requisite bludgeoned victim is sprawled along the floor, a pool of chocolate syrup with red food dye is beside her head, etc. and the dwelling is a little out of sorts… not from a would-be robber, but … well… because she’s messy. and so Goren and Eames are stepping around things and casing out the joint; using pens to lift up papers, gently moving heavier things about with their hands in latex gloves. Goren picks up a framed photo of the victim with her son, it’s a recent shot because the little guy’s at day care and she’s a struggling addict in recovery who’s also a waitress (but clearly knows some bad people ’cause y’know, she’s like: lying dead now). and in comes the first officer on the scene and he says, “other than being a complete slob, i can’t figure what this woman is guilty of…”

so THAT’S why i have the cleaning ladies come back. my prep strife is definitely worth the potential for post-mortem ridicule… i like to consider that it’s similar to the proverbial grandmotherly advice to always wear clean underwear in case you’re ever put in an ambulance.

sometimes i stay home when they come; to sort of mitigate the mayhem and it’s like i’m an advance team fumbling over myself, brushing the CRUMBS off the table while they’re in another room legaka de mito um rere di mika-ing away… as if i work for them… it’s really crazy. but not today. i just saw their little silver car pull up. i’m so outta here. omigod, they’re laughing.

thank you.

update on 5/10/12: this is what i came home to today:

who does this?! who puts an electric griddle in the oven?! i mean, really! it wasn’t as though the kitchen were a disaster! it was actually in pretty good shape… THIS, to avert this is why i become mrs hyde…

9 responses »

  1. I've had a msid before. I was like this. As for the wear clean underwear in case you're ever put in an ambulance advice, I had that very thing happen to me a couple of weeks ago (I'm ok now) ~ my underwear was clean enough, but I was mortified because it did not match. I had on a black lacy bra, and white cotton granny panties… ugh.

  2. hi Elaina! hey man, at least you were wearing the stuff; i have a friend who's a former ER nurse and she has stories about what some of the people come in wearing and many are under-underclothed. 😉 i have made a private "goal" to be more patient when the cleaning ladies come around. my kids read this post and started laughing because i was so on point… they looked at me and my oldest, Thing 1 who's 13 said, "yeah. you should just let them do what they need to do and leave…" wise. we call him the 48-y.o. banker…

  3. This really reminds me of my mom, although I'm sure I'm old enough to be your mom 🙂 Very funny and brought back a lot of memories. My mom is still a freak before the cleaning woman comes; it still makes ME nervous.

  4. Pingback: You Have to Have Something for Yourself

    • barbara – i KNOW, right?!

      i am *just about* at my last nerve today and the cleaning ladies will push me over the edge. it’s my husband’s birthday and i’ve been next to just about unable to do anything. the kids NEED TO GO BACK TO SCHOOL. nonetheless, i will make sure i know where my (swear alert) fucking iPod and running shoes are and then i’m outta here. i am not prepping a damned thing other than leaving the sheets out for them. i’m telling ya, having a birthday in the summer … the last week before school starts… if he didn’t have an invisibility complex before, he does now… oy.

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