By anyone’s definition, my house is very big. Although it is only my
husband and me living here now, there was a time when our home
did not seem big enough for our family and the many guests we had
over the years when our children were young.
In my early childhood, my parents were able to afford household help
so that other than making my bed and the “teach-your-children-
responsibility phase” my mother was going through, my chores were
not very many. That all changed when we moved to New York and
household help was something that only the very wealthy could afford.
That was my introduction to the “real” world of hard physical labor
if one wanted a clean home.
Both my parents worked during my childhood so that each one of us
was expected to do our share. I remember waiting until the last minute
each day and then scrambling off the couch when I realized my mother
could be walking in any minute and would scold us for the fact that
nothing was done. I wouldn’t have minded the scolding except that my
mother’s scolding was actually more of a whine…the kind that is tinged
with just the appropriate amount of guilt-producing expressions that
are difficult to forget even years after the events have passed.
To give an example, my mom would say: “What have I got here? Four
mortgages?” and sigh deeply. Once, in my haste to clean up all the dishes
that had piled up during the day, I didn’t realize that one of the glasses
in the sink was broken until I felt the stab as I plunged my hand deeply
into it. I remember panicking more about the scolding than about the
blood that was profusely dripping into the sink or the stitches I should
have gotten at the hospital or clinic. Instead I made my sister promise
not to say anything to my parents and I hid my injury for however long
it took to heal (at least two weeks). I still have the scar.
The silver lining is that I never, ever again let dishes accumulate in the
sink. To this day, my sink is always ready for action. I am always washing
and putting away the dishes, whether they are mine or everyone else’s.
Peace of mind is very important to me.
But I was actually intending to write about household help. Like the
frustration I feel when I see that my cleaning lady (who has been with
me for 3 years) still doesn’t sweep behind things…unless I specifically
ask her…Just this morning, I noticed accumulated debris under the
pingpong table. I am not sure what the problem is, I have already said
that this is a big house, still it is not a big deal to just sweep it. And
having said that, I guess I will take myself, my broom and dustpan and
take care of it now!
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