I feel like something is amiss in my marriage.
It starts in the morning, when I roll over and smack my alarm at 5 AM to try to get up before my kids and get some work done.
It continues on through the day, when my husband rushes out the door, usually forgetting the lunch I made for him on the counter.
And then into the evening, when we try to shout over each other to have a conversation, cleaning and bathing and scrubbing and scurrying until he collapses on the couch, and I contemplate waking him up, but then usually head up to bed because truth be told, I’ve kind of grown accustomed to having the bed all to myself.
I feel this deep undercurrent of tension and borderline resentment while reminding myself that in the grand scheme of things, we’re OK. We’re healthy and we have a house and just relax, would you?
But then there are other times, like this morning when I was sprinting back and forth in the kitchen, pulling food out for dinner prep, calling the doctor’s office, cleaning up, feeding my daughter breakfast and my husband was sitting at the kitchen table watching a video on his phone. Who has time for that shit? When have I ever sat at the kitchen table on a Monday morning and watched a freaking video for fun?
But maybe that’s the point.
I don’t stop. I don’t ever, ever stop, and is that really the life I want to live? Where I am aghast at my husband (who, for the record, has been home all week from work and has been doing more than his fair share of cleaning up puke while our kids and I battled the stomach flu) for simply enjoying a moment’s peace in the morning? Is that really what I want my marriage to be?
So the other day, while vacuuming my stairs, it hit me what the problem in my marriage could boil down to: it’s the cleaning. It’s gotta be the cleaning.
I mean, let’s be real — I can’t get rid of the kids, I can’t stop working, I can’t exactly stop grocery shopping or feeding our children or cleaning up puke from their crevices every other week in this flu season that never ends. We can’t seem to find the time or energy or babysitter for regular date nights. I am willing to pay someone to watch my children for me while I work, so why on earth wouldn’t I pay someone to do some grunt work so I could be the one to play with my kids instead?
When I really thought about hiring a housecleaner and all the factors that went into it, I realized that it didn’t sound that crazy after all. I work full-time from home with four kids, so my house is a constant disaster zone. They’re always here, and it’s always a struggle to clean up after them just to maintain some level of decorum, let alone do any deep-cleaning that would make my grandmother proud. My husband works a lot of weekends, and it’s just a plain freaking busy season in life, in which I still can’t seem to put the baby down for long enough to drink a cup of coffee.
But more than my masterful justifications, hiring a housecleaner came down to taking action for the sake of my marriage. Something has to give.
So I did it. I hired a housecleaner. It wasn’t easy, I’ll grant you that. I found myself apologizing constantly to the poor woman when she came to give me an estimate, explaining that I wasn’t normally the type of person who would hire a housecleaner. She nodded with a smile, clearly not buying my crap, but then let me off the hook somewhat. “Oh, believe me, I plan on hiring a housecleaner too someday! I think everyone should have one!”
And then I didn’t know how to approach the situation with the children. I certainly couldn’t tell them that Mama was paying someone to clean our house because they were a bunch of lazy bums so they could continue to be lazy bums, now could I? Nor could I have them spouting off to their schoolmates that their housekeeper had come. What would the other mothers think of me?! And then there was the shame of knowing that someone else would be in my house, seeing every last nook and cranny of the places we normally try to hide.
But I told myself to just try it once. What could it hurt? The price she gave me was actually surprisingly way less than I thought it would be — only $75 for an entire house deep-clean once a month. And seeing the number as far less than a date night would cost me, helped me put things into perspective.
It may sound like a small thing to you, and maybe it is. But the weekend before she came, I had the same voice in my head that I always do, you know the one where you are thinking of the 10,001 things that need to be done and the chores are running through your head and you’re thinking, OK, I need to vacuum and clean the toilets and stock the diaper basket and start the shopping list and pay the bills and pick up the basement and WTF is my husband doing just sitting there with the kids?!
But instead of giving into that voice and spending the entire weekend cleaning, I realized that I didn’t actually have to do all of those things. Well, I still had to pay the propane bill, but as for the rest of the stuff?
I could just let them go.
So I did. And instead, I plopped down on the floor with the rest of the family and we enjoyed a rousing game of “Memory,” where I got my butt sorely handed to me by a preschooler. And then I sat on the couch and did absolutely nothing while drinking coffee with my husband.
And guys? I’m pretty sure it was the best 75 bucks I’ve ever spent.