The last Wednesday of the month is a special day in the Traber household. A cleaning service comes and restores order and cleanliness to our home. The last Tuesday before the last Wednesday is also monumental. All four Trabers scramble to tidy up to make our home presentable. Which inevitably triggers the question, "Mommy, why do we have to clean the house before the cleaning lady comes?" And, each month, I give him the same answer: "We clean to make it easier for her." But, deep down, my face burns with shame. We tidy up the night before from a deep-rooted fear of allowing someone else to witness our day-to-day living.
By the time the end of the month rolls around, our house resembles a war zone. I find myself sticking to syrup-drizzled chairs, dusting off shelves with the bottom of my t-shirt, and spraying Windex on the floor to kill the teeny little ants snacking on some food remnant. The garbage cans overflow, and tumbleweeds of cat hair blow across the hardwood in the hallway. But, the end is in sight. Tomorrow, my house will sparkle and shine. You can eat off of our floor and pretend you are in a hotel with the toilet paper triangles. The beds are made, and for a moment, our house looks like something out of a magazine. Quite a stark contrast to its usual state of disarray. But, once a month, I'll take it.
His question also boils down to one simple fact: The cleaning service is what I like to affectionately term, "self-care." I always swore that as long as I was able-bodied, I would never hire someone to do a job I could do myself. Ridiculous, lazy, and extravagant, I thought. But, as a full-time working mom to two human wrecking balls, I find myself short on time and energy. The truth of the matter is I choose not to spend the all too precious moments with my family scrubbing toilets and shower doors. I'd rather cut a different line item out of our budget to reclaim some time with my kiddoes. I find it a rather smart investment. But, nothing changes the fact that I do not want anyone to bear witness to my poor housekeeping skills. So, we clean in an attempt to paint a rosy picture of the all-American family, organized, clean, and in control. We clean to hide the ugly truth--Mommy just hates to clean.
Tonight, we will do our last-Tuesday-of-the-month dance. Toys will be shoved under beds and in closets, and piles of mail will be sorted. For tomorrow, the cleaning lady comes.