Monday, February 28, 2011

My Mom Was Right-ish....It's a Dark Day

I had to let my cleaning woman, Maribel, go on Friday.  She's out of our budget.  She's been out of our budget for about 2 years now but we finally accepted the truth.  I much preferred our two years of budget denial.  Denial got me a thoroughly clean house every other week...and a periodic trip to Target to buy some happiness.

But after two years of a not so fantastic housing market, which unfortunately comes with a not so fantastic pay adjustment, we are making serious adjustments to our life. (I know Dad, it's about damn time.)  We'd honestly already cut back on a lot of our fixed expenses, but eliminating the cleaning budget was a big chunk that we have been trying to pretend we can still afford. 

I fought this cut for months.  Actually, Alex wasn't very excited about this cut either.  He is very wise, and questioned every one's happiness if Maribel had to go. Adding to my workload is not something that makes any of us feel good, probably because I am not such a fun person when I am overwhelmed in cooking, child rearing, laundry, and cleaning.  He's very, very wise. 

Maribel was more than a cleaning woman though.  She started working for us 7 years ago before we had our kids, or even our dog.  She knew me before I started to lose my mind and obsesses over sippy cup straw matching and how to get little people to sleep uninterrupted. 

She saw each of my babies come home from the hospital.  She held them, or me, when things were overwhelming or straight up chaotic.  I've cried to her, I've laughed with her, and she saw how gross my family can be and still loved us.

We both bawled when she finished on Friday.  I immediately went to the kitchen, ate a plate of enchiladas, and half a box of Dots.  Seriously it felt tragic, like losing a really good friend.  A really good friend that cleans your toilets and makes your bed.  Why don't I have more friends like that?

I know that losing a cleaning woman is not the end of the world. I realize that it was a huge luxury to have a cleaning lady for the last 7 years, but it is super sad to see her go.  It's personal because of our relationship and's personal because it sounds like a lot more work for me.  I hate that part.

I've been overwhelmed lately by the number of things I want to do each day and really, cleaning my house more often has not ever been on the list of things I want to spend more time doing.  Seriously, never made the list...surprising, I know.

There are never enough hours in the day for me to feel like I am being a good Mom, a good housekeeper, a good writer, a good friend, a good wife.  Now I feel like I was slapped with an even more monstrous task of really cleaning this house, not just the huge task of maintaining it's cleanliness. 

My Mom recently told me that I was stressed because I was trying to do too much. It greatly pains me to say this, but she might be right.  I want to do it all and I want to stay sane and semi-pleasant while I do it.  Asking too much?

Maybe.  The days I have spent devoted soley to taking care of the house and kids have been infintely less stressful than the days were I am trying to finish an article in between a diaper change and making a peanut butter sandwhich.  I've been able to manage all the tasks I need to get done and I don't feel overwhelmed with dangling to-dos.  I feel good about what I've accomplished because I have abandoned all other aspirations for acheivement. Wait....that doesn't sound good.

I feel desperate for me time on those days.  I yearn for an hour to sit and write about how I wanted to throw Cole and Aiden in a small closet together when they started fighting for the millionth time, or 15 minutes to call Amity and tell her that I have found the perfect recipe that pleases everyone and takes me 10 minutes to make. 

(No such recipe exists to the best of my knowledge, but maybe if I were more narrowly focused on my housewife duties I would have discovered it by now.) 

I see the departure of Maribel as the beginning of even less time for me to nurture friendships that keep me sane, go to the gym so I can pretend to be fit while I really pee my pants and listen to rap music, write so I can feel alive, and a moment to do something crazy like...sit down.  I just want to be able to sit down people.

I know what I have here is nothing unique.  Any Mom with a hint of personality and a smidge of intelligence struggles with the issue of balance in her life on a daily basis.  I just feel sad that now I am going to have to work even harder to readjust the already off kilter scales.

The scales currently lean heavily toward kids and housework, as I suppose they should at this point.  These are the years my kids require the most attention at all times, and I feel like I have a lot of kids running around here.  I swear there are more than three some days. Aiden just started pouring his own juice and can even make a peanut butter and honey sandwhich with little intervention....but I've got many years to go on getting Stella there....and possibly even more for Cole.

I know this all will go fast, but in this moment the whole thing makes me a little sad.  Saying goodbye to Maribel makes me feel like I was just robbed of a little more of Leslie, someone I have been fighting to keep around since Aiden arrived.  I have to still do some things for me.  Part of my life must have nothing to do with laundry and discovering dinners that babies with no teeth could eat. 

So maybe my Mom was right-ish (ugh) in that I can't do it all well without going a little nuts....but the alternative is really just to lose me in my kids and my house and that sounds just horrible.  I'll work harder to get the house cleaned, be a good Mom, be a good friend and I'll keep trying to write because that's the way life is, right?  The constant quest for balance. 

I'll just be a little nuts in the process.  We'll call it quirky.  We'll call it interesting. 

We'll call it motherhood.


Amy Pollak said...

nice post! and nice website design!

Tami said...

Well said! You put into words what we ALL feel! Enjoyed your blog! Keep em coming...when you're not cleaning! ;-) Tami

Jessica Honegger said...

Time for mom to fork it over for Maribel... esp after this blog!! And I fully believe that a housekeeper once a month is worth credit card debt.

yippiemom said...

I like the new look and thanks for the shout out!

The Mommy Therapy said...

Thanks you guys. I wish my husband agreed about credit card debt for a clean house...there is no convincing Alex about that for sure!

RookieMom Whitney said...

Well put, Leslie. Maybe things will turn around (lottery?) and you'll have her back one day.

Alternatively you could get on your high horse and start pretending you wanted to let her go so that you could have full run of the house. (Have you read Happy Housewives by Darla Shine?) Then you could criticize women who have housekeepers.

janny226 said...

It's a year after you posted this, and I am so happy to read your post because I am in the same boat-- need to let my wonderful more-than-cleaning-lady go due to budget. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!