We fired our cleaning ladies this morning. It’s a little heartbreaking because we’ve had them for years.
The urge to do it wasn’t an urge at all, but a slowly moving snowball rolling down a 30˚ slope toward my face. I am at the bottom of the hill, lying in a pile of my own havoc and the havoc foisted upon me by my three wonderful and active boys, two dogs, busier than bananas husband and newly busy self.
It’s probably The Worst Time of The Year for me to do this, to let them go. Halloween candy wrappers everywhere. Dog hair is at an all-time high although I’m not sure why because don’t golden retrievers keep their hair in the fall? Tree leaves and those little sharp-as-frack seed pods from the tulip poplars are all over my front walk-up, they look like confetti in my front hall, and in other places they have assembled in neat little piles beneath my dusty furniture. They’re insulated by the dog hair; perhaps they will all commingle and create a small yet dense forest beneath the bench near the umbrella stand crammed into a darkened corner.
I can feel it in my gut: letting the Cleaning Ladies Go is The Wrongest Idea Ever.
The thing is: it’s me. I can’t do it all. I turn into a VIPER FROM HELL the day before they cleaning ladies come. I’ve written about it and I’ve also suppressed the hell out of my emotions regarding this situation.
“Three boy,” one says in her broken English. She’s a lovely person. “That mean hard works for ju. Ees a lawt.” Part of me realizes this is an affirmation on their part that I NEED them. That I can’t exist without them.
I can exist without them. I just won’t clean my microwave without them. When I see them, I want to fold into their ample bosoms and heave and cry because it IS A LAWT. Driving to soccer five times weekly, music lessons twice, therapy once, teaching yoga four times a week, taking yoga just once, grocery shopping, cooking, walking dogs, laundry (just mine and the youngest’s), using the bathroom, and wiping down a freaking countertop … We don’t really over-schedule our kids, but I’m wiped out by Friday and that’s when they come. Fridays. And peeps, having them come the same week as my Lady Time, IS A RECIPE FOR DISASTER.
Prepping for the cleaning ladies and then having my kids NOT HELP AT ALL hits a very exposed nerve.
It taps the utterly most raw and deepest part of me: feeling invisible and unheard. That I don’t matter. That I’m replaceable.
It’s not the cleaning ladies who do this; they are amazing. They get that shit done in two hours and the house is presentable. It’s my team. My family. I honestly fantasize about taking off to Newark and finding a five-star hotel and crashing there, using all my yoga teacher money to stay one hour there and then get back in the car and drive to Trenton where I can find a diner and order a grilled cheese on rye and a bowl of tomato soup and I’ll use the VISA rebate gift card I got when I switched contact lenses last month. Then I’ll buy gas with the rest of the balance and drive back home to children who when they see me after my long, unexpected and restful journey, will say,
“Where are my cleats?”
So it’s not you, dear cleaning ladies, it’s me. I can’t handle the stress of prepping for you the night before. My kids don’t give a damn and having you show up just to stack the piles of their collective crap, and the crap I’ve not put away in time and the crap my husband hasn’t put away in time… It’s not worth it. Not this time of year. Not when Thanksgiving is three weeks away and then freakin’ Christmas. (“Mom, can we get a PlayStation 4??? Everyone says our PS3 sucks…” <– that. I want to take a sledgehammer to the PS3 and ask them if it really sucks then.)
When I say to people, my public, these things… these sort of quasi-deep yet revelatory (if you get where I’m really coming from) confessions about the State of my State, it’s because I’m tired. I’m tired of being The Answerer here.
The other night, we grilled the most fabulous pork chops. They were on the grill for 20 minutes after marinating in brown sugar and mustard at room temperature for about four hours. My husband, whom I love, cut into the chop and asked me, “Is this done?” as he showed me the cut loin.
Internally I SCREAMED, “WHO THE FUCK AM I? A HUMAN GRILL THERMOMETER? DO I LOOK LIKE WOLFGANG FREAKING PUCK??” but externally I coolly said, “Sure.” And returned to sharpening my knives.
I am not Everyone’s Mommy here. I am a human being too. Everyone knows that when I’m sharpening knives, I’m NOT to be disturbed. That’s why I walk around with the sharpening steel at all times now.
So this morning, I did what I could. When he was getting ready for
his escape from the house work this morning, my husband sensed my disposition. It couldn’t have been the knife-sharpening again…
“Ev-everything ok, hon?”
“No. Yes. No. It’s all FUBAR,” I said. “I can’t do this alone. There’s a hammer in the dining room and I don’t know why; my pruning shears are in the bathroom — I DIDN’T DO IT… and shit everywhere. A firewood log in the playroom?? Cleats, shin guards, soccer balls, those effing black rubber flecks from turf fields… I want to stab a phone book except THOSE don’t exist anymore…”
“Let’s just cancel them.” He said.
IT WAS LIKE THE SUN SHONE IN MY HOUSE. The angels were singing.
So he left and I did what I could.
I prepped the front walk-up. I swept the leaves and seed pods out of the way. I got rid of catalogs (OY! WITH THE CATALOGS!). What I really need to do is go out with the girls in my life. But we’re all so busy. I think this is why people plan adventures to far-flung places (Hoboken) and get impossibly drunk because when you’re on a schedule like the ones we endure, there’s no time for R&R.
I know I sound ungrateful. I’m not. I’m blessed like no one’s business. Three healthy boys, a great marriage, the dogs, the yoga teaching and so much shit that I lose my mind every fortnight to get it the hell out of the way. I get it; it’s just … that I’D LIKE SOME HELP for THE HELP.
I know they’ll be back. I’m no fool. The cleaning ladies are my heroin(es).
They just got here. No joke. Gotta get back to making little piles…