Tuesday, September 2, 2008

I dreamed my whole house was clean

I have just finished scrubbing tiles. We have a lot of floors, all tile, and a lot of bathrooms, floor to ceiling tile. I know, I know I can hear you cry...why??...am I scrubbing floors when I could for a tiny sum have someone do it for me. There are a myriad of reasons why I am still the one doing the scrubbing and the moping, the wiping, the washing and the ironing, the cooking and the horde of other countless things a house and its hold needs done to keep it clean and running as a household should.

In each country that we have expatted to it has been the norm to hire a maid, a helper, a housegirl, a cleaner, a someone to do those jobs you are not that fond of and, let’s face it, those you really hate, those you don’t have time to do justice to and then there are those pesky ones that scream ‘clean me’ every few weeks (like the outside of the upstairs windows and the inside of the bathroom cabinets and the spiders at the back of the board games cupboard). A lot of people we have met went the maid route because they needed a someone to watch the kids while they went to the gym, went for a coffee at a child unfriendly cafe, had a date with the mate at a very child unfriendly restaurant (with mood lighting, linen napkins and a fork for every occasion) or did the shopping quickly (because it really is never quick when you have a child or two in tow) or cooked dinner without toddler ankle weights or had an important businesslike conversation on the phone without constant covert shushing at the end of every sentence
...Oh sorry... no...I didn’t mean.... oh no I’m sorry not you....I wasn’t shushing you...yes that would be great...by Friday? (Shusshhhhhh)....no,no not you shussh...yes Friday would be wonderful!

B was already 14 when we moved to Samoa and capable of a few hours as child in charge plus most of the nighttime things we went to either involved the kids or only one or other of us so I never felt we needed a baby sitter.

Try as I might I just can’t get my head around the idea of having someone clean up after me. I can almost hear a whispered ‘You made the mess... you clean it up’ following me around. And so I still do. I have never been the kind of person who is comfortable giving orders I am too shy and far too fiercely independent for my own good it seems. I’m the one with the plunger not the plumber’s phone number. I’m the one who decided one day it was time to remodel the kitchen and by the time J came home most of it was already outside on the back lawn. I am the one with the cache of power tools in the shed (at least I had power tools when we last had a shed) and I wasn’t afraid to use them.

It’s a definite character flaw I’m inclined to believe especially when I’m on hands and knees scrubbing around the bottom of the toilet or knee deep in ironing with a sweaty sheen on my forehead or trawling the market, sweat trickling down my back, looking for mangosteen and ripe pineapples. I admire those who can sit squarely on their desire to do it themselves and let someone else sweep under their feet without feeling huge pangs of guilt and I’ve really tried to imagine being comfortable doing it too but I am afraid I am going to have to admit defeat again. I am just not ‘ma’am’ material.

( Domestic godess fridge magnets from Amazon)


Simple Answer said...

Hmmmmm. Good for you? I must admit I'm in love with not hand washing all my dishes. Or ironing my shirts. Or putting away the groceries. Or mopping the floor.

Verity said...

I know what you mean! We had someone help once a fortnight when we first moved here, but I found I had to go out when they were here because I felt too guilty watching them clean up my mess! Now I am doing it myself and wishing I had some help!

Verity said...

Me again...this really got me thinking! I think I shouldn't be feeling guilty about it! I would be giving someone a job and I myself cleaned houses while at university. I think that if you can get a cleaner you should enjoy that little luxury! It will leave more time for doing the things you really love! Still know what you mean though!

Tanya said...

I was a cleaner too!!I think thats an Aussie Kiwi thing.
I get that its giving someone a job but Im a bit of a clean freak and fussy but not really willing to insist someone gets down on their hands and knees and scrubs like I do for pittance. If I pay too much people around me get pissed off that Im upping the stakes. If I dont get the cleaner to clean like I want I just end up waiting til they leave (so I dont look like a complete bitch)and doing it myself anyway. I know I sound psycho!! I'd rather shop at the markets, eat at locally owned cafes and restaurants, buy from roadside stalls, second hand bookshops which are locally owned and volunteer at the school at the dump to put some of what I have into the community. We do have a driver too. I'm not someone who would have a cleaner at home in NZ eithere so I guess I kind of think why should it be different here except that its really cheap of course and thats not enough of a reason for me.

Paradise Lost In Translation said...

I had my 1st ever 'house helper' in Sri Lanka. Not live in. A bridge too far that was, but all day every day. I never got used to being called 'madam' or having someone see my every mood. When we 1st arrived. 1st overseas posting, I felt i cdn't even cry because she was there seeing me. I also felt constantly guilty ie that if I had a cleaner, it shd at least be because I was busy doing lots of other things, but of course I wasn't. In the ex pat world most of those work/community/social network/chore type things are taken away 1 way or another. Initially anyway. I found the climate in Asia v hard to get used to, so was grateful in that sense to have help. I have posted several times on that difficult relationship tho in the end we became 'kind of' friends. I also got to do supply teaching at my son's school, because MAheswary could pick up my daughter in a tuktuk at the end of the morning. I did drive myself around though. That of course prompted a whole spate of other exasperated posts. I have very similar pictures from Sri Lanka to you. ie family of 5 on motorbike etc!