13 November 2009

Not guilty

Bittersweet Girl has a question about hiring someone to clean the house.

Add me to the people who've done this for years, with no guilt. Even when I was single and had only one cat. I like my surroundings clean and neat (OK, non-toxic and with a good possibility of finding any given object), and I have limited time and energy, and I have far better things to do than argue with Sir John about who should do what. So we paint the housecleaning pink and slap a Somebody Else's Problem Field on it.

There's still plenty to do: laundry, cat boxes, dishes, picking up. I used to have a cleaner who was willing to do laundry and dishes. For awhile we had a service who wasn't. These things might be negotiable with the current person, but we've got used to doing them ourselves (and of all the housework tasks, laundry is the only one I like).

Guilt? Nah. Maybe because I did a lot of cleaning while I was in college (I had a friend who was an apartment manager: have you ever cleaned the oven of people who forfeited their cleaning deposit?), or because having help was one of my mother's aspirations for me, but before I could afford it I looked forward to the day when I could, and once I started hiring the job done, I decided I'd rather live on rice and beans than go back to doing everything myself.

It's a job. No shame in it. Do you suppose women feel that they ought to feel guilty about it, so in groups, they express guilt, even if they don't feel it?


The Bittersweet Girl said...

Thanks for picking up this thread. I'm obviously in the guilty camp -- or thinking I might feel guilty -- but it's helpful for me to see how others have thought through this issue. I certainly don't think that my discomfort is a predictor of how others should feel, or a condemnation of what others do! At any rate, I'll drop back by to see what responses you get.

Bavardess said...

Count me as 'not guilty', too, as long as you're paying the person a fair rate and providing decent working conditions. You may be onto something with your last sentence, though. Thousands of years of conditioning can be hard to shake off. There is also the problem of undocumented workers/illegal immigrants being exploited, particularly in jobs like housecleaning where they are largely 'invisible'. Perhaps the guilt is to some extent an expression of solidarity and acknowledgment of that problem.

undine said...

Your post and Bittersweet Girl's make good points. I do have a question (because I haven't had anyone clean my house): if you do all the dirty jobs like cat box cleaning, laundry, etc., what does the cleaning person do?

Dame Eleanor Hull said...

Undine: clean the bathroom and the kitchen, including all fixtures, the stovetop, and inside the microwave. Sweep, mop, and/or vacuum all floors. Dust other surfaces (I am allergic to dust, so I really like having someone else do this.) Empty wastebaskets. Some of them make beds; I don't care about this, but I don't mind if they do.