Earlier this week I broke up with the cleaning service.
Yes, I had a cleaning service.
Thats what it takes to get my house clean. Someone else. I hired a cleaning service all the way back when I was pregnant with S. I was working on a show, keeping H busy and was tired and crazy from being pregnant- something had to give, and it was cleaning the house. (and the timely paying of bills, but thats another story) I have never been a very good house cleaner, and probably have a different definition of 'clean' than most people. I was embarrassed at first to let anyone who cleans for a living see my filthy pit of despair, and then there was the issue of the dogs, and the kids, and the fact that I'm home all day, and then the whole 'since I'm home all day' isn't house work part of the gig? Had I not been pregnant, I probably wouldn't have ever called the cleaners, but being pregnant can be a great enabler.
The cleaning service is called Dos Funny Frogs- which is funny in itself, but provides a nice cover. Its nice to be able to refer to your cleaning service as the frogs in areas where you might not want to advertise that you have a cleaning service. Plus it feels better, more mythical, to me to say "are the frogs coming today? that it does to say "are the cleaners coming today?" I have guilt about the frogs, obviously.
I'm not sure about the message having a cleaning service sends to the kids. One of their favorite games in the tub is to play 'cleaners' and wash the walls with their wash cloths. I have neat freak children, and they love it more than I do when the frogs come. They usually come while H is at school, she'll walk in the door like shes entering wonderland, and gasp, "Mommy! Its so clean!" This is a kid who cleans her room for fun. I was telling this story to a friend who said "wait a minute, aren't YOU supposed to be the one who gives THEM a cleaning complex?" Yes, that is the order of the universe- but we do things a little differently over here. My kids make me feel like a slob. Whats up with that?
The lead frog, Alex, went to medical school in Cuba. I know this because he was giving me advice when I was pregnant with S, and afraid I would go into labor while they were here. He delivered his nephew, he told me- and then suggested some exercises I could do to prepare my uterus. It wasn't until he said "You give her de bress? De bress is bess, for as long as you can.." that I slowly backed out the door. Now, I suppose one could be relieved that they have a cleaning service guy who can not only rid the house of its filth but also deliver a baby- but discussing ones uterus and breasts in the form of small talk is a little weird.
Also, part of the frog team is Alex's 80 something year old mother who raised 7 kids and who, I'm willing to bet, didn't have a cleaning service. More guilt.
I have been saying I am going to quit the frogs for some time now. I had only intended to keep them on until S was born. That was almost 2 years ago. So, finally, with applications to private school, with looking into our finances up close and personally, with me feeling helpless about not contributing income to this family- I thought- this is something I can do- I can quit the frogs.
My heart was heavy after I sent the email saying I had to stop the service. Not because my house will go to hell, which it will, but becasue I actually do really like the cleaning service people. I have gotten used to seeing them over the years, and will miss them. There is also a possibility that this is adversion to change gone way way out of control.
I received this email from the frogs in return:
Please allow me to provide you with a final free cleaning. We will miss you, your family and your home. If budget is an issue let us know and I am sure we can work something out. Everyone is having hard times, but to my loyal customers I am willing to go down in price.
Have a nice day!
J practially had to shake me to make me stay true to my original intent and not be lured back into the comfort of someone else cleaning the house, and then he did his best to force all feelings of guilt and responsibility from me. No small task, that. I took a ridiculously long time and a lot of anxiety coming up with this response:
I really appreciate your offer- but I already feel you do such a great service for your cost, I am not comfortable asking you to go down in price. Its true that everyone is having hard times- we also have a lot of new expenses coming up and need to take this time to regroup our finances- so, for now at least, we need to stop the service.
I appreciate the offer of a free final cleaning, and welcome it if you are still able to, if not I understand.
This morning I recieved this final email:
We want you to know my crew and I will be stopping by around mid day to provide you with a final free cleaning. We love you and your family and we will miss you a lot. You were one of our very first customers.
Come on! They love me? I can't take it. I was never good at breakups. I was so sad this morning! J made a collosal amount of fun of me. He said," Are you going to bake them a cake? Are you going to take pictures of them with the kids?" When I told him that just because he doesn't have a heart he shouldn't make fun of mine- he patted his chest and said "tin man."
I wrote back to the frogs and said I'd try to be home when they were here- although- why? Then I actually wrote them a card saying how great they are. It turned out I wasn't here when they were- it is unseasonable warm today and I took the girls to the park after school. I don't know what I would have said if I saw them, and I don't need to be crying over the cleaners. My house looks great for probably the last time. I'm imagining them sitting back, fingers laced behind their heads, feet on their desks... saying to themselves..."she'll be back. She can't handle her house."
Anyway- Dos Funny Frogs. They are great, and nice. They clean really well. They can deliver your baby. They're the cleaning service that loves you back. If you're in this area, give them a call. Tell them I sent you. Help me chip away at my guilt.