Monday, July 25, 2011

On Housekeeping

I mentioned here that I was able to finally save up enough money to afford a regular cleaning service. I wasn't entirely sure if this was something that I was willing to do, since Justin and I work hard for our money and don't have a ton to spare, what with the kids and my student loans and all. Back in May, I decided that my house had reached unacceptable levels of grossness due to me laying on the couch 95% of the time (pregnancy -> narcolepsy), and I hired Molly Maid to come out and do a deep clean. They were too spendy to do it all of the time, but I decided that it was well worth it to have them come out on an as-needed basis when I get behind.

Shortly after that, the Office went through a re-org and my title changed, which resulted in a small bump in pay (plus back pay, woohoo!!) That same week my mom let me know that an old family friend who cleans houses was looking for more work. When I heard she only charged $15 an hour, I knew exactly where my extra money would go. No more kitchen floors or bathrooms, yay!

And now I need to vent/whine a bit (sorry)...

I TOTALLY GET that having a housecleaner (this is how Sue refers to herself) is a luxury that not everyone can afford or thinks that people SHOULD afford. But my mom gave me a huge guilt trip about it (which I didn't think was fair, especially considering that this was HER SUGGESTION). She made sure to let me know that I should never mention to my dad that I pay someone to clean or do fall and spring landscaping cleanup, since that was something they couldn't afford when we were kids and they had to work hard to do it themselves.

This irks me, for a variety of reasons. First, Justin and I have a completely different life than what she and my dad did. Mom was able to keep up on the cooking and cleaning when we were young because she was able to be a stay at home mom. My dad was able to do 100% of the yardwork on the weekends because having a nice yard was a priority for him, and because he didn't really do ANY housework until maybe 5 years ago. Justin and I both have to work full time, and for much of Adriana's life I was also working on my MBA. When I get home at night, especially now that I'm pregnant and tired, all I want to do is spend as much quality time with Adriana as possible, and then have an hour or two to wind down before I repeat it the next day. We both clean (together)(ish) on the weekends, but it is hard to keep up with everything AND feel like we are fully enjoying Adriana. It's really easy to give in to the temptation of blowing off stuff around the house so we can go to the zoo or the pool or just veg out as a family.

I absolutely appreciate every sacrifice my parents made for us growing up. I love that my mom was able to stay at home with us, and totally understand that having one income meant that they had to give up a lot. But trust me, that is a sacrifice that I would willingly make too, if I had made different financial choices when I was younger (like not going to that year of med school, OMG). I always end up feeling like both of my parents truly do not understand how much work it is to balance things sometimes. I feel like if I want to pack my lunch or go longer between new clothing purchases to be able to afford this luxury, then that is my decision to make and I shouldn't have to justify it or be made to feel like I'm a crappy wife/mom.

The other thing that upsets me is that I get the idea that my mom's comments were partially about the fact that they save us a lot of money by helping with childcare, and when I spend money on non-necessities it means that they don't need to be helping us? Which is a whole can of worms in and of itself. They help us WAY MORE than they should (in so many ways that I don't even know how to thank them properly), and we TOTALLY APPRECIATE it, but it's not like if they stopped helping us we wouldn't be able to make it. So there's this weird pride thing on my end, and this weird need to be needed thing on their end that makes things awkward.

Ugh. Is money ever non-complicated, or is that just my family?

Second question...would you think I'm an asshole if you were my housecleaner and got this note from me? I have control issues and the whole "letting other people touch my stuff" thing has been hard.


Jessica said...

I would think, for a house cleaner, the more specific people are about their expectations, the better. I don't see anything wrong with your note. I'm not a house cleaner, though...

My mom babysits my daughter (and won't let us pay) and thankfully how we spend our money hasn't ever been an issue. She knows we can afford daycare, but would rather have our daughter at her house, so the money just isn't part of the equation.

Mama Bub said...

Ugh, I hate it when there are conditions attached to help. Even if they're unspoken. We have help from my parents so that I can stay home with the kids, and I ALWAYS feel guilty when we spend on something non-necessary. They've never made me feel like that, but there's just that guilt. I think a housekeeper is a totally justified expense, no matter what your working situation. My husband doesn't agree with me, of course!