Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I Am Not Your Maid

I needed to clean my pantry, but the floor and baseboards were so thick with grime that I felt tired just thinking about it. I needed to reorganize the book shelf, but the ceiling fans were covered in dust and the windows were smeared with tiny fingerprints, fly poo and dog noseprints, and it made me feel like I needed a nap. The refrigerator was beckoning me with sticky shelves and rotting food, but all the bathrooms simultaneously smelled of urine and were probably growing mold and all I could do was look at Facebook. I simply did not have the time or energy to deal with all of the filth. Then there was the clutter. Oh clutter, how I hate you.

The amount of papers and mail in my tiny home is astonishing. It piles up on counter tops, the kitchen table, the desk, my jewelry box and the buffet. It taunts my waking hours and haunts my dreams. The stacks of papers around my house remind me of my failures:

  • I'm indecisive. 
  • I have hoarder tendencies. 
  • I often have a hard time determining what is truly important. 
  • I was going to marry Kirk Cameron.

While I need a clean house for my mental sanity and any chance at creativity, I suck at cleaning my house. I hate clutter, yet it surrounds me on a daily basis. I hate to clean, yet the need for it is incessant. I am chronically defeated by junk mail, old birthday cards and Legos. My dirty, messy house is giving me a facial tick, a resentful attitude and a chronic Pi symbol that is carved into my forehead.

Paperwork is the bane of my existence, only to be rivaled by toys and music by David Hasselhoff.

Seeing piles of paper is paralyzing for me. I never know what to do with paperwork. It completely overwhelms me. Bills need to be paid and filed, receipts need to be gathered and stuffed into a manila folder, junk mail needs to be weeded, newspapers and magazines are begging to be read... and then there is the paperwork and the art projects from school. SO MUCH PAPERWORK AND ART PROJECTS FROM SCHOOL. As an artist who has felt under appreciated for the vast amount of my life, I never want to be the person that pitches artwork that my kid labored over.

You see, I am basically useless when it comes to dealing with paperwork, and my husband is basically useless when it comes to housework of any kind, and I am so overwhelmed by clutter and paperwork, that I cannot bring myself to clean the house, and he does not know how to clean a house. It's a vicious circle in which the two of us together equal pathetic. And our house is grotesque.

My husband is great at tearing apart then rebuilding pretty much anything. He rocks at fixing my truck and repairing the dishwasher. He built our kitchen; the entire thing. Yet the man cannot clean a counter to save his life. I swear that he simply does not SEE the messes. So he and the boys make enormous messes and it is my duty to follow behind them and clean up. Yeah- NO.

That is I went on a pre-caffeinated rampage about the condition of my house (which was SPOTLESS only two weeks prior). I completely lost my shit.

And it wasn't the papers. It wasn't even the unwiped spills on the counter, table and floor combined with the garbage that didn't make it to the trash. Nor was it the toys that were never put away, the socks on the floor or the SHIT EVERYWHERE. It was the expectation that cleaning up after everyone was MY JOB.

Like the gentle wings of a butterfly, I handled it delicately. I also addressed the issue in way that everyone would understand exactly what I was saying, the first time I said it. And no, I didn't say, "Every time you make me clean up after you, an adorable baby kitten dies." But I wanted to.

Instead I yelled, "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, CLEAN UP AFTER YOURSELVES!" at the top of my lungs and stomped around the corner.

My husband yelled back, "RELAX! WOULD YOU?"

To which I calmly replied, "I would love to but NO ONE WILL LET ME!"

Then I added, for maximum effect, "I AM NOT YOUR MAID!!!!"

Then I proved it.

I hired Merry Maids to clean my house. Other than the moment that I set "Nashville" to record on my DVR, it is the best decision I have made in a long time. I'm justifying the cost because: A.) It is cheaper than therapy. 2.) It's better than a divorce. P2.) Because we drive old trucks, we have no monthly car payment. Who needs air conditioning and automatic locks when your house is clean? and 45.) It's healthier, both physically and mentally for me and my entire family.

My house was so filthy that after 2 hours in my bedroom alone, the original gals had to "call in reinforcements". It took four people 5 1/2 hours to get through my 1,400 square foot cottage. They found approximately 345 spiders, 789 Lego pieces and 678 random screws that Brock pulls out of his pockets at night. The grime- consisting mostly of dog hair, dirt, grease, half chewed food, dead skin cells and my pride and sanity- was so thick that I was simultaneously relieved and mortified that someone other than me was cleaning it. Afterwards, having a clean house was so energizing that I did three more loads of laundry, cleaned the pantry, color coded my scarves and organized the boys' room.

Ahhh! It's clean... for at least 30 minutes.

Today the maids are scheduled to clean again. In preparation, I decluttered my house. I sorted through the stacks of papers and Legos and Thomas the Train pieces. I picked up socks from the floor and wiped honey from breakfast spilled on the counter. I made the grocery list and packed lunches and wiped asses and folded sheets.

All the while, I found myself muttering under my breath, "I am not your maid."


  1. I sing this song every. single. day. And yet, no one listens to me and I am buried in filth, bills and school work. Calgon (and Merrie Maids) Take me away!!!!

  2. The school papers (I can hear forests cry after the first week) I recycle. Keep the important stuff for later, and out goes the rest. At the end of the year, all the assorted junk goes into that years backpack and stuffed into the closet to be dragged out and ooh and ahh'd over when she is grown. Or can at least have her own place to hoard such junk

    1. Awesome! Now come to my house and do that for me. ;)

  3. I have a three ring binder I keep the best of the best of The Boy. The pictures, and stories and all report cards and even the two sermons he wrote for Youth Group are punched and placed in the binder. I have K-12 all in one place. Some stuff made the scrapbook or was framed. Many other things were tossed away. And after they graduate and leave home, you only have to worry about dog nose prints; and they are low enough that you can get away w/out having to clean them every day!

    1. I bought a three ring binder for artwork, but it still piles up on my counter. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?

    2. I recently found your blog ~ you are amazing!

      My rugs rats have graduated to almost adults (adults being self supporting, not just over 18) and I have a ton of saved "art work". Binders are hard, you actually have to get something, open it, put art work in protective sleeve (or hole punch UUHHG). Easier = each kid gets a box (places that have a lot a paper like Kinkos have perfect size boxes and kids love to decorate their box, so there is another easy rainy afternoon project). All year long (Sept-June) you just drop art work in said box. You can even display AWESOMESAUSE artwork prior to storage. Art work remains available for random viewing at any time (my kids like to look at what they have done occasionally). At the end of the year, during that stupid rainy day when it should be nice in July (PNW a love hate relationship) you sit down and go through box and decide what to keep forever, and now you can put the binder or scrapbook together, add comments, and tons of stickers. Viola - a lovely book of wonderful art that can be placed loving on a bookshelf and enjoyed by all. I ended up with 8 scrapbooks per kid, and I hope some day to share them with my grandkids!

    3. You called me amazing which means you are my new favorite person!
      I like your plan. I have one binder for each boy that I half filled over a year ago, then I petered out and threw evetything into a storage bin, which i tossed in the attic. Yay me!

  4. WHY HAVE I NEVER THOUGHT OF HIRING THEM???? Such a good idea!

  5. i need to save up and have them come to my house! this sounds awesome!

    1. See above comment. The best part is that my house gets truly clean twice a month. That was NOT happening before.