Guilt And The Cleaner

Lately I've been feeling really guilty about having a house cleaner. No matter what I'm doing on a Thursday morning I am filled with shame and remorse at how messy the flat is as I put the dough out for our cleaner extraordinaire (let's call her CE). One morning I got really mad at myself – I was actually running around trying to look good for a conference I was speaking at (read: an actual full face of makeup) – and yet still I felt bad about the state of our living quarters. Why do I need to able to do everything perfectly? Isn't speaking at a conference enough accomplishment in one day for me? Just because what was a tidy flat on Sunday night comes apart at the seams by Thursday morning, doesn't make me a bad person. (Right?)

I made the decision to hire a cleaner a few years ago before Future Hub moved in with me for two reasons. First, my aunt, who was a very wise woman, once told me that a woman should choose between cleaning and cooking, but never do both. As I love to control the kitchen, that one was a no brainer. And it made sense to me, this rule. My parents have never employed a cleaner, but my Dad does all the cooking and grocery shopping as well as fix things around the house. My Mom gets rid of the dirt.

Second, at some point Future Hub was over at my place and I was cleaning (this sounds weird to begin with). Anyway, he saw me dust the TV and exclaimed, "Why are you doing that? That's the kind of thing you only have to do once a year!"

It was that point that I knew we would never see eye to eye on cleanliness standards and there had to be a third party involved to settle this kind of dispute. We often joke that the pounds we spend each week on CE is really money spent to keep us from arguing – hush money, if you will.

If there ever comes a time when we can't afford it, I will gladly clean the flat. I also won't be able to afford my weekly Bikram yoga fix either in that case, so I would actually need the over four hours it would take me to do all the housework as my weekend exercise (CE does it in three and a half, but she's a professional).

This week I got a bit closer to getting over the guilt. As you may know from an earlier post this week, I've not been well. On Thursday I went into work but really couldn't hack it. My even-tempered colleague who sits next to me told me to go home after I sneezed about five times in a row. There was sputtering and coughing and just general lurgy-ness* seeping out from around my desk. So I scampered home, only to find that CE had not arrived yet… she was running late and so came in around the same time as me.

Can you imagine the guilt? I actually had to be there when she first encountered the mess and so immediately started tidying things up even though I was feeling like death warmed up. After a few minutes I decided enough was enough. If I wasn't well enough to do the job I actually get paid for, what kind of nut was I to start cleaning up when I was supposed to be resting? Sometimes I just reach a point of such ridiculousness that I have to follow my friend's sage words from our crazy days living in New York City (usually used in reference to some guy situation):

You better check yourself before you wreck yourself.

I clambered up to the loft and curled up on the sofa to watch some old taped episodes of MasterChef, eventually dosing into some sort of Sudafed-induced dreamlike state, with the comforting sounds of CE vacuuming** downstairs. It was really nice to have someone else taking care of things for a while. Almost like having a mom around. Almost.

*Lurgy is the generic English word for being ill. Noun. Typically used to mean some sort of icky cold with sneezing, coughing and the like. Also, it might be interesting for those American readers to note that in the UK 'sick' means to puke, as in, 'I was sick' to mean 'I threw up'. When you have a cold or flu or something you say you are ill, not sick. 'Sick' can also be used as a noun, as in 'I cleaned up my sick'. Ew.

**Sometimes I'm not sure if I should use American or English English words in this blog. I keep going back and forth. Vacuuming is very American, whereas here they would say 'hoovering' – the Brits call vacuums 'Hoovers', after the brand. And we all thought Americans were the big consumers!

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