And I just hired a new one.
This is how I want my living space to look.
This is how it feels like it looks to me.
The truth is somewhere in between. In fact, if it really looked like the way it feels to me, as in photo above, I would just move out.
For those of you who follow such things, I am a Virgo with a Cancer moon. So I love home, and am supposed to be detail minded. Somebody forgot to tell me about the detail part. It only shows up when I get in a major Virgo throw away mode, but then throw away the wrong things and keep the wrong things. I need a Marie Kondo miracle, and I need it in nineteen hours. That is when the first maid service I have hired in years arrives.
As a single mother with a private psychotherapy practice, I have fairly consistently hired maids or maid services. Most of the time when my son was younger, I would just shut his room off when the maids came. There was no way to make the carpet visible for cleaning under the clothes, sports equipment and toys.
Occasionally he would clean his room if I helped, and we would throw out or give away huge cardboard boxes of broken toys, outgrown clothes and shoes, countless pokemon and sports cards (please don’t tell me how much they would be worth now), and various and sundry stuff. Then at least the maids could vacuum, and I could kiss him goodnight without risking breaking something. Like my bones.
There was a financial advisor in the 1990s, who said to hire someone to do anything that isn’t making you money. Since I only make money when my butt is in the seat facing someone for fifty minutes, six to eight times a day, it makes sense to hire cleaners. I also do my own scheduling and billing, which I rationalize is still “making” money.
Lately, though, Doctors have told me I must move around more, unless I want to end up like the Tin Man in “Wizard of Oz.”
So, why am I delegating cleaning my apartment, which requires movement, instead of delegating scheduling and billing? Because I decided it wasn’t an either/or. And while I need a clean space to be productive, I have had issues with both knees and my lower back during the last year.
As I get better at charging what my counseling services are worth, particularly by letting go of the safety net of taking insurance from companies that pay a ridiculously low fee, I am better able to afford cleaning help.
As my writing, which I am doing more and more frequently, earns money, I can afford someone to do my billing. As I drop low paying insurance companies, I will save the time it takes to bill them and collect.
Clean spaces inspire me, to both work at my best and to relax. Since I have added frequent writing to my lists of things I love to do that make money, and I see clients in my home, that clean space has become mandatory for me to be successful. I can focus on clients and writing alike when I’m not wondering if I cleaned the guest bathroom, or if all the dishes are put away. And let’s not even talk about making beds.
When the house is clean, though, I actually want to make the beds and put the dishes away.
A clean base motivates me to keep it that way. Also, my love language is Acts of Service, so a clean home even makes me feel loved. It’s me loving myself enough to buy this service for me, but love is love. I also develop crushes on Maintenance and Handy Men.
And the hate part?
That comes from a long history of maids being people who were exploited and underpaid. I don’t ever want to contribute to that narrative. The first time I ever saw a maid in person was at my future in-laws’ house. My fiancee’s mother was a stay at home mom, but they still had a maid who came in daily. I was nineteen, from a lower middle class family in a small town, where only two families could afford maids. Josephina was Black. I had learned, from incursions into Black cultural studies, that Black maids often left their own children alone to come take care of other people’s children. I didn’t know how to interact in the situation, but she and I established a relationship. We invited her to the wedding two hours away. She didn’t come.
When I later asked her why, she said, “Because no one offered me a ride.” I didn’t know that she didn’t drive, but my fiancee’s family did. There was anger and resentment in her voice, and I felt sad to have been so naive and unaware.
It was many years later before I hired my own maids or cleaning services. I was a young lioness in Marketing and Advertising, full of my own importance and always busy. It was the first time I experienced the sheer joy of turning the key in the lock, opening the door and being greeted by fresh, clean smells. It became addictive. Whenever I could afford a cleaning service after that, I scheduled one. Some years were better, and I could pay someone to come in every two weeks. Sometimes I couldn’t afford to hire one at all, because I refused to underpay. Occasionally, I poached a maid from a cleaning service, because I discovered that of the $40 or $50 an hour I was paying the service, they only received $10. I could hire them directly and they made more money.
I dated a man who lived as an ex-patriot in San Miguel de Allende. He employed a maid and a gardener, who were Mexican nationals, for his huge home. Every morning, the maid made breakfast for him, and lunch, which she left in the refrigerator. She always wanted to make breakfast for me as well and then clean the dishes after. It took several visits before I was comfortable letting her do that. Still, I always tried to help. I’m sure my guy paid them well, but I’m also sure hired help there were still paid less than in the states.
The last few years have been tough but joyful ones for me. I moved to Austin to join a company that went under six months later. I had sold my home, and my son lives here, so there was no going back. All of my time has been devoted to building my practice here, and finding other supplemental income, such as writing for Medium. For the last year my son lived with me while he was between jobs and searching for what brings him joy. He also brought more clutter and mess, and I laid out more money to help support him.
He now has a job, plus his video and comedy work, and has moved out. I can afford a maid service again. What hasn’t changed is his room, which he supposedly moved out of, and which I am now frantically clearing so the maids can actually clean in there.