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February 25, 2011

Yesterday, I asked my housekeeper to cut her hours back to once a month.


But she knew, and I knew, and she knew I knew, and I knew she knew, that I didn’t need her, that it was a luxury, and that it wasn’t helping me. I don’t have a baby and a toddler, nor two toddlers, nor do I have cancer, nor do I have a job. My kids are both in school full time and the only reason for me to have had a housekeeper fell under the category of my not liking to do housework, and that’s not the kind of person I am.

When I told her that her job, like so many people’s jobs, was evaporating into the aether, she said she understood, and that she wondered why I hadn’t done it sooner, and she was glad because she knew it meant that I was feeling better.

What it also means is that now I’ve got to pull it together.

As awesome as my housekeeper is (and she really IS), there are things she can’t do, like figure out what on earth to do with my stuff and my husband’s stuff, and my kids’ stuff, so she makes it look tidy and waits for me to deal with it, which, in theory, I should do, but I don’t, because it looks tidy and, because I have had cancer, I have internalized The Great Truth Of Life which is that things don’t have to be perfect.

It’s like not fixing the leaky roof because you can’t do it in the rain, and when it’s not raining, the roof doesn’t leak.


In mathematical terms, it’s a collection of sets: old issues of The Economist and The New Yorker, and Town & Country. Kids’ schoolwork and art projects. Mostly paper, with a few other items thrown into the mix, stacked in unobtrusive places around my house. Not so many stacks, because, as I tell my children, in our family, we are neat and tidy people; I mean, I don’t have to clean the house before people come over.

Or didn’t.

Because I have had the luxury of a housekeeper.

Now it’s on my shoulders.

It’s like the last gasp of illness, the creeping fear that I can’t physically do the work of keeping my house clean. That I can’t mentally do the work of keeping my house tidy. Organized. Functional.

But I can. I mean, I think I can.

From → Uncategorized

  1. Julia, '96 permalink

    You probably can, but there’s a fall-back: You can probably ask your awesome housekeeper to increase her hours. (My approach in that situation would be to squirrel away the money you would have spent on it for a couple of months, until you’re absolutely certain you won’t need it. But then, I’m super cautious.)

  2. Mary Knapp permalink

    Wonderful, gutsy, courageous move. And I hope you take after your mother-in-law, not your mother who can’t imagine getting along without the weekly miracle and blessing of Milagros.

  3. Nicole permalink

    You can. And you will do fine. And most of us other moms won’t judge you based on whether you do or you don’t. And we will love you just the same.

    Btw, what’s a blog troll?

    • Mary Knapp permalink

      lol Nicole, I didn’t know either, so I looked it up on Urban Slang and Wikipedia. It’s someone who either writes a boring, tedious blog — not Dance With The Reaper, fo’ sho’ — or people who write inflammatory and obnoxious comments on blogs or news stories.
      Kudos for being braver than me and admitting you didn’t know!

  4. Alisha permalink

    Hmmmm. It’s amazing how you can put into words my thoughts. I love the justification for your piles, that’s mine as well. However I am not as brave as you yet, I cut back from weekly to every 2 weeks a while back…and I still miss my off weeks! But, it was a livable solution for me. I told the hubby when I left my career to raise our family that I was staying home to be a mom…not a housekeeper & I have fully lived up to that. We are lucky that we have a choice 🙂 let me know how it goes for you.

  5. Aunt Lee permalink

    You could call the nearest detention center holding possible illegal immigrants and the nearest women’s prison and get the piles of magazines over to them.

    Have you discovered the Swiffer line of mops, dusters, etc.?

    You can also devise competitive cleaning games for the Two G’s to play with you.

    Good luck, Ducks

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