25 August 2012


Not too long after we moved into our current apartment, Paul declared that we would be investing in a housekeeper. With the low cost of a professional cleaner comparing to the high frustration that Paul felt cleaning the floors every single day, the decision practically made itself.

We have been blessed with a delightful, yet very quiet, Singaporean woman with two children now both out of secondary school. She gets my house cleaner that I ever could – at least in the visible areas. So far, after more than a year together, we only have a few minor issues and then one very large issue.

The minor issues: she has not really grasped the concept of cleaning under things. A few days ago, I showered with my earrings in my ears. While getting ready, I bent my body over in front of me, raised my hands to the back of my head and began to undo the towel that covered my wet hair. In the process I clipped my earring back and heard it clink on the ground.

Not seeing it on the ground in front of me, I got on my knees and examined the dresser underworld. After I obtained a flashlight for a better view, I saw caked dust and a few dust balls, along with a line of tiny beads I had spilled months ago. I did my best to clean them up but just assumed my housekeeper would have captured any I did not see at the time. I did not see my earring back.

I did end up finding the back and my ear was once again adorned with a shiny object, but I was surprised by the amount of dust that had been collecting for so long.

Her cleaning is amazing – she cleans things I never would think to clean. Paul and I were constantly amazed at how well she cleaned the drain blocker in our kitchen sink. We are constantly clogging it and are never able to fully clean the gunk. Then I found her secret – she used our vegetable scrubber to clean out the nasty food particles (cooked and uncooked) that had somehow stuck to the fine wire grid. She also used that same vegetable scrubber to clean other kitchen areas. I bought a new vegetable scrubber.

Paul a few months ago asked our housekeeper to start washing our sheets on a weekly basis. When she makes the bed, the top sheet never faces the proper direction. It used to annoy me but I got over it. Every now and then we strip the top two layers and correct everything. Today, however, Paul freaked out. We prepared for our nap, I was drifting off to sleepyland and then, without warning, Paul yelled out, “What the…What’s going on here?” And then he ripped the sheets off the bed and calmly put it back together. I barely moved.

Little things. Now here’s the really big thing – the thing that almost makes me regret hiring a housekeeper in the first place. I did say almost.

I have lost all desire to clean. Now, I am not saying that I ever loved cleaning. In fact, my mother used to yell at me to clean one bathroom and my grandmother once pulled me by hair to make me get up and do the dishes. But there are times when I just really enjoy a good few hours on a Saturday or a day off to just get everything darn clean and maybe reorganize a little.

It is so bad that I this week realized I do not even clean things that would drive me insane in my old house. For instance, we have a black granite shelf in our bathroom that sits just above the sink. I keep my toothbrush, our toothpaste and my facewash on the ledge. Though I do my best to dry off everything after I use it, my toothbrush bottom tends to leave little white ovals on the shiny, black ledge.

By Wednesday, there are enough marks on the ledge to annoy me. By Thursday, I can’t stand to look at the marks anymore, but here’s the issue: my brain goes directly to, “The housekeeper comes tomorrow,” and I leave it for her to clean 97 times out of 100. This is a problem.

I this week decided that my housekeeper likely thinks I am incapable of cleaning due to the messes that I tend to leave her. I am embarrassed. I vow to do my wifely duty and show her that I can clean and that I do still appreciate everything she does. 

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