Higher Thread Count
Every time I look back at an old post I see something to fix. It’s tough to resist the urge but I figure once I start fixing, I’ll never stop and I’m trying to keep this train moving forward.
I censor myself, here, according to a complex set of rules that changes regularly and can be understood only by me but the main idea is I don’t want to write anything that would make someone feel bad. I don’t assume that people aren’t going see it no matter how remote the chance.
I may be breaking that rule with this story and it’s not even such a great story to begin with but whatever. Here it is:
I think every marriage has that moment when you have to figure out how you’re going to deal with differing ideas about major issues. I’ll say the top three issues are: money, division of labor and child rearing.
This is about division of labor, in particular: cleaning.
I am a neat person. Some might say freak. I think not. I don’t stay up late bleaching my kitchen counters and alphabetizing my spices. I just like everything wiped down and put away. My husband is not so concerned and can tolerate a high degree of clutter and things like counter crumbs or wadded up socks are invisible to him.
Who gets to dictate how the house is going to be when you have two extremes? Is it fair to either person to say his or her version of domestic order is the rule of the day? No. Our compromise has different components but one of the main ones is, we have someone who cleans our house for us every other week. This saves enormous amounts of marital strife.
Our first person started working for us shortly after we moved in together. She was fantastic. Reliable. Hard worker. I hardly ever saw her but we’d exchange notes back and forth to say hi and possibly leave special instructions or whatever. There was never a day that I didn’t appreciate having her clean my house.
But at some point she got too familiar. She felt comfortable throwing things away. Old towels. The newspaper that you left folded up on the table. She moved things around. She hung things on the walls. She came up with creative storage ideas such as taking a cute container I had in the kitchen and filling it with all my cotton balls and putting it on the bathroom counter. It was not a see through container and I didn’t want it on my bathroom counter so I put it back in the kitchen and I didn’t figure out what happened to my cotton balls for months. And in her notes she added what she thought were helpful suggestions. “You need to get your carpets cleaned.” “You need to get someone to fix that outlet downstairs.” “You need to prune that Hydrangea.”
When I arrived home on cleaning day instead of thinking, “Yay, I have a clean house,” I’d be thinking, “I wonder what she’s going to be after me about this week.” It was a long slow burn, I admit, I shouldn’t have let it get so far, but it all came to a head one week when she was scolding, excuse me, helpfully suggesting that I get some bulbs in the ground.
Meanwhile, I was unusually busy. I had work travel, family travel and fun travel all squeezed into a short time plus I had just finished a class and had been working on a big project in what was left of my free time. So I snapped. And I furiously scribbled out a note suggesting that I was an intelligent adult and this was my house and I would do things the way I wanted to do them when I wanted to do them.
She left a furiously scribbled note of her own and the front door key and that was the end of that. I felt terrible that it had ended so badly but also a little bit relieved. No more running around battening down the hatches on cleaning day so that things didn’t get thrown away or put away where we could never find them again.
I became the primary cleaner again which rapidly turned into resentment and bitching because, I signed up for a partner, not a maid job. So my husband found us another cleaning person.
And she’s fantastic. Reliable. Hard working. When I interviewed her I alluded to the thing with the notes and she said, “I won’t leave any notes.” And she doesn’t. There is not one day that she’s cleaned my house that I didn’t appreciate it.
But there’s this weird thing with the sheets. (I know, a 1000 word post about sheets. Can you believe it?)
We strip the bed on cleaning day and put the sheets in the washer and when we come home the clean sheets are on the bed. Last fall I bought some nice light pretty sheets on clearance and threw them in the cupboard for spring. We use flannel in the winter. At some point in spring I put the new sheets on the bed on the weekend and didn’t strip the bed on cleaning day thinking this was a cue that the bed was fine.
I came home on cleaning day and the old sheets were on the bed. Our old sheets are a nightmare. Stained and worn through in some parts, frayed around the edges. If someone found a dead body in the garden I wouldn’t think twice about wrapping it up in these old sheets.
The next cleaning day I put the new sheets out and we used those for two weeks and then the next cleaning day, the old sheets were on the bed. This happens every time. I’ve only had the new sheets on the bed for a total of 6 weeks because for some reason the old sheets keep ending up on the bed.
Last week I came home to the old sheets once again and was annoyed enough to change the bed and put the new sheets on myself. I suppose I could leave a note. Or I could throw the old sheets away but what if we find a body out in the garden?