I have a deep, dark, dirty secret I need to get off my chest. But first, let me tell you a little story…
When we moved into our three-bedroom rental house in January, I was excited to embark on exotic adventures as a suburban domestic goddess. It was all so new and uncharted to me. I couldn’t wait to actually drive to the grocery store and park in a real parking lot, to sweep leaves off my very own patio, to eat at the Olive Garden. But, more so, I was excited to play house: to welcome my husband home every night with a home-cooked dinner, a sparkling clean home that I’d spent the afternoon meticulously scrubbing and polishing, and our daughter fed, bathed and blissfully asleep. If I was going to be a stay-at-home mom, I was going to kick some serious domestic butt at it.
Poor, sweet, naïve me.
Some quick back story: despite growing up in a small Indiana town until college, my primary residences over the past decade and a half have been small, urban apartments with little to no maintenance required. Pre-baby and pre-California, I worked 60+ hours a week and usually just came home from work and ordered takeout with my husband while we watched TV. On weekends, we’d give the apartment a quick once-over, then go watch the Bears game with our buddies at a bar or something. With dual incomes and no kids, we could afford a cleaning lady every other week and we each did our own laundry.
That was easy-peasy. I was excited for a new challenge.
To launch Operation Domestic Goddess, I conducted some hefty research: looked up household cleaning tips on Pinterest, made a laundry schedule, Googled recipes for DIY toxin-free cleaners, made weekly grocery and errand lists and bought a Swiffer. A Swiffer! I was ready.
And then, I was sweaty.
Not only did I need a second shower on cleaning days (when is there time for a second shower, let alone a first?), more importantly, my kid was usually forced to sit inside all day while I scrubbed the toilets, mopped the floors and changed the sheets. And the house still wasn’t really that clean most of the time.
“How do domestic goddesses do it?” I wondered, as I slathered hand lotion on my scaly palms. Or, more pressingly, when? With my mother-in-law visiting later that week, I couldn’t leave the fate of my dirty house up to me. I decided to call in reinforcements.
So, here’s my big, nasty secret: two days later and full of shame and self-loathing, I “borrowed” my girlfriend’s cleaning ladies. While The Bear and I took the dog to the park and visited friends, the dynamic duo of Maura and Maria did everything from vacuum out our fireplace to remove the cobwebs that I thought were too high to reach so I’d just accepted them as décor. I hardly recognized the place when we returned home later that day.
I thought about not telling my husband, to let him think I’d done it all on my own, ala Celia Foote in The Help. But the second he walked in the door with a puzzled look on his face as he inhaled the sweet aroma of the toxin-free citrus vinegar spray I’d lovingly made (then abruptly given to the cleaning ladies and skedaddled out the door), I caved. I’ve never been a good liar.
B wasn’t mad that I’d spent a few extra bucks on the Washing Wonder Twins – quite the contrary, actually. He was proud of me for delegating and happy that I was in a good mood. He was also grateful that our shower was no longer scummy. Now, Maura and Maria come once a month to help with the “big” stuff (and of course, before all mother-in-law visits–not that mine would mind if the house is messy; she’s pretty great), and I continue to use my Household Cleaning Chart and homemade cleaning spray for what I can manage while The Bear naps—and in between blog posts 😉
In closing, I say hats off to you, super mamas (working and stay-at-home) who have multiple children and bigger houses than mine who do it all. Keeping your house clean, your bills paid, your marriage exciting, your sanity intact and your kids entertained—and, let’s face it – alive—is a mere mirage in the desert of domesticity.
Oh, and PS: if some of you aforementioned super mamas have clandestine cleaning ladies too, I promise: your secret’s safe with me.
With that finally off my chest, I’m going to leave my messy kitchen until later and take my daughter to the park.
Have a great week, everyone!