My Mom Cleans My House And I’m Not Ashamed
BY NATALIE ROMERO
Photo © rawpixel/123RF
Sep 13, 2019
I have a hard time accepting help.
I used to pride myself on the fact that I was so independent. Before I met my husband, I lived on my own and I learned how to get around by myself. I didn’t need anyone for anything. I was capable of handling life without any help.
Truth is, not accepting help doesn’t make me stronger or more independent.
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In fact, now that I am a working mother with two kids, I know that asking for help actually makes me a better person and a better mother.
Cleaning my house is one of my least favourite tasks and it definitely got shelved more times than I would like to admit.
It didn’t come naturally to me. So even after entering parenthood, I continued on doing it by myself. I rushed home from work in order to pick my kids up and get dinner ready. I spent weekends getting through the piles of laundry that somehow turned into a mountain from one week to the next.
It was exhausting and draining.
I gave it my all and yet as hard as I tried, I struggled to keep up. I made homemade meals every night for dinner, but dishes stayed in the drying tray instead of being put away. There were always clean clothes available, but they tended to stay folded in the laundry basket for a lot longer than I would have liked.
And one of my least favourite tasks got shelved more times than I would like to admit: cleaning my house.
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I don’t remember the first time my mother offered to clean my house, but I do remember feeling self conscious that my house was obviously in need of some TLC. I took it as a sign that I was failing.
The sheer exhaustion forced me to accept the help and it felt liberating.
I was supposed to be able to do it all. That’s what mothers do. They go to work, take care of kids, cook great meals, bake fresh muffins and still have time to go to the gym and care for themselves.
Goodness, I was trying.
The sheer exhaustion forced me to accept the help and it felt liberating. Finally being able to say I can’t do it all and have it done well was like a weight lifting off my shoulders. Having a clean house left me feeling ready to face every day. And it was so wonderful to finish a long week with a clean house.
Soon enough, my mother cleaning my house became a little more frequent. If we went away on vacation, she would come over and clean so that we came home to a spotless home. If she had a day off work, she’d throw the offer out. I would gratefully accept.
But I felt guilty. My mother had a full-time, demanding job and she was coming to my house to clean up. How could I ask this of her?
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Then my mother retired. She went from working long hours, travelling and having a lot of responsibility to nothing. It was winter, she was stuck in the house and she was bored.
One day I called home to chat and my father frustratedly whispered, “She’s pacing the living room. I don’t think she can do this.”
After retirement, the offer to clean our house became a weekly thing. Every Friday, my mum would show up carrying her caddy filled with cleaning supplies and get to work.
I learned to let go of the shame that came with the fact that I was an adult and my mother was cleaning my house.
When I would thank her with a slight hint of embarrassment in my voice she explained, “I wouldn’t offer if I didn’t want to do it. It’s my way of helping you. I know how hard it is to raise a family with two working parents and we didn’t have anyone to help out.”
I learned to let go of the shame that came with the fact that I was an adult and my mother was cleaning my house. It became a well-known fact: our neighbour would pop over and offer to walk the dog while she cleaned. Co-workers expressed how amazed they were that I had this help.
One time when a door-to-door salesperson came by my mother answered, “I’m just the cleaning lady,” and we had had a great laugh about it.
The thing is, my mother is the best "cleaning lady" I know. She’s amazing at cleaning. My house is spotless.
I don’t feel the need to clean before she comes. I’m not ashamed that I haven’t passed a vacuum all week. I don’t feel the need to pretend.
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And my mother doesn’t judge me for it. She understands that I’m essentially working two jobs. After work, I spend my evenings running my kids to their activities. We prepare a home cooked meal every evening and eat as a family without fail and that means more to me than a perfectly tidy house.
It’s been a few months since my parents retired. My mother is building her post-retirement life. She’s getting involved in wonderful things and my parents are travelling often, so months go by where the cleaning is left to us. And it’s nowhere near as clean as when my mum comes over.
So for now, while my life is steeped in chaos and confusion, I will accept the help. I will welcome my mother into my home to practice her life saving magic of tidying up. I will spend that extra time hanging out with my kids, reading books and enjoying life. I know that this won’t last forever, but while I have it, I will keep my head held high. And if someone comments on how clean my house is I will make sure that my mom gets the credit she deserves.
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