Good Housekeeping (or, “if you polish us, do we not shine?”)

I was raised in a self-cleaning home. When I woke up in the morning, my room was a mess. All of my things were scattered where I had left them. When I came home from school, my room was clean. My clothes were put away. My bed was made. The fact that my mother had a full time cleaning lady was only coincidental, or so I thought.

When I got married, I made a similar mess each morning, and with the help of my husband, even more. When I came home from school (I was still in college), I was shocked to see the mess still lying where I had left it. I figured out that maybe the cleaning lady did have something to do with the house being clean all the time, but I still didn’t fully get it. Until, one day after we were married about 6 months, my husband said, “Aren’t you going to wash the floor?” And I, in all my innocence answered, “Do you think it needs to be washed already?” I was serious. I had never witnessed a floor being washed. I had no idea of how it was done or how often normal people did it. Our floor in that apartment was tiled and a medium brown color, so I didn’t notice any dirt on it. I did sweep it from time to time.

And thus I entered the wonderful world of domesticity.

Over the years, especially when the children were young, we had a number of cleaning ladies ranging from Ida Mae (the family therapist)* who was with us through the beekeeping/haircutting period to “the white tornado” who helped us out around the time that our youngest was born. Usually they were with us for a short time due to our frequent moves (only one asked us if we could take her with us.)

Since I have lived in Israel, aside from some more and less successful encounters with cleaning help just before Passover, I have been help-less. I have discovered the magic of “Cilit”- that wonderful product that dissolves mineral build-up. I have learned how to do “sponga”- cleaning the floor with a squeegee and a rag without having to cut a hole in the rag (which, I am told, completes my absorption into Israel as an immigrant). I have even learned how to clean my stone counters without leaving watermarks (hint: a small squeegee is involved).

I have not, however, found a cleaner.

When I brought my father-in-law to live with us, the person who cared for him would keep the house very (Kati, the drunk Hungarian) or passably (Carole, the runaway Filipino) clean. A couple of years after my father-in-law passed away, a friend told me about her terrific cleaner. I tell his story and the one of our subsequent adventures at the end of the following post: this one Well, this week, I finally agreed to have my husband arrange for another cleaning person. She comes with the highest recommendations. She was supposed to have gotten here an hour and a half ago. You guessed it! Maybe she got confused? Maybe she’ll be here tomorrow? Stay tuned.

*More about Ida Mae upon request

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  1. Oh come on, Kati was only drunk some of the time!

  2. ditto for me.
    Only my mother had enough sense to send over a cleaning lady for the first few weeks.

    The problem was though that my husband freaked out. He never saw one in my house and couldnt understand that this is why the dishes in the sink were piling up ‘cuz i was waiting for someone.

    The only difference now, even 10 years later i cannot get my floors cleaned and my husband is stuck doing that.

    But i did master laundry, sweeping and other domestic arts.

    What will my boys think?
    My house is neither spotless clean nor dirty…

    My advice to myself:
    Even if i order a cleaning lady dont rely on her and leave the mess around because statistaclly half of the time they dont show up.

  3. Sorry! Totally forgot that I was supposed to be there! My schedule said I was nesting at Rachel’s today…

    And consider the info on Ida Mae requested.

  4. Kirby
    I need you more!
    As for dishes piling up… I highly recommend dishwashers. Not as good as a self-cleaning house, but guaranteed not to steal your jewelry.