Despite fears of raised eyebrows and judging looks, I am ready to share my dirty little secret with you: I am a stay-at-home mom AND I have a cleaning lady. (Okay, cleaning ladies if you must know.) This public confession did not come easily. It isn’t a whisper that will turn into vapor. It will forever live on the World Wide Web. They say admission is the first step to recovery, but I’m not quitting my cleaning ladies. Ever. (Lord willing!)
Before our sweet and sassy daughter Madeline was born my husband and I both worked jobs with long and odd hours. We realized we didn’t want to spend our precious free time cleaning the house, so we hired a cleaning company. It was bliss in the beginning. Then, the quality of the cleaning began to slip and soon we learned we were expecting our first child. It only made sense to say goodbye to that luxury to save for mountains of diapers and strange things we’d never heard of like Boppies.
Even before Madeline was born I made the decision to leave the fast-paced world of a TV news producer to become a stay-at-home mom. (A decision, by the way, I’ve never regretted.) After those first bleary-eyed months we felt we were beginning to hit our stride parenting-wise. Yet as we looked around at alarmingly grungy floors, cob-webby ceilings and scummy showers, we realized our home might soon qualify as a biohazard zone! Andy still works those long and odd hours I mentioned before. I’ve even written about life as a shift worker’s wife here on the Knoxville Moms Blog. I’m lucky because he’s more than willing to help with the cleaning and the cooking (especially if it involves meat over an open flame.) But my husband’s schedule means our family time is hard to come by, so we made the decision this past spring to hire another cleaning company.
We opted to have the cleaning crew come every two weeks and alternate between a more expensive “deep clean” and the less expensive “touch up.” When I surveyed their work after the first cleaning, I literally had tears in my eyes. Our bed was made (with fresh sheets no less!). The blinds were dusted. The microwave glistened. Even the toilet paper in our bathrooms was folded into a neat little point just like at a fancy hotel. I know we’re paying for the cleaning service, but in that moment I felt nothing but gratitude and wanted to hug our cleaning angels.
I’m still practically giddy with joy when I come home to a clean house, but at some point guilt started to set in.
As a stay-at-home mom shouldn’t I be able to care for my daughter, go grocery shopping, cook and clean house? Was I falling short? I suspected both working mothers and other stay-at-home moms would give me the side-eye. That’s why I kept my dirty little secret to myself. Frankly, I probably wouldn’t be confessing today unless a couple of my mom friends hadn’t made their own admissions to me. Both stay at home with their children. Much to my surprise one already had a cleaning lady and the other wanted to know if I could recommend someone. That’s when I first shared my dirty little secret out loud. I talked about the bliss and that nagging feeling of guilt. As if I couldn’t be any more surprised, my friend said she knew a few stay-at-home moms with cleaning ladies and I shouldn’t feel guilty at all. Well, knock me over with a feather, I wasn’t alone!
Since that moment, I haven’t been shy to share my not-so-dirty little secret. In fact, I’m writing this blog on my freshly dusted computer. (Thanks to my cleaning ladies, of course!) My husband and I will welcome our second child, a son, in December. You can bet I won’t be quitting our cleaning ladies in the coming weeks and months.