If anything, it goes back to my pioneer roots that you can--and should--do everything for yourself. I like to make stuff, remodel rooms, wallpaper, and put down tile. Tom, who can do sophisticated things like put together lawnmowers, and wire in electrical fixtures, doesn’t get having someone come in and clean. But his standards are--um, a little different than mine.
Mostly now I don’t want to worry about whether I should be washing the baseboards instead of reading a book. I want to put my time and energy toward more creative stuff. The responses I've gotten seem to point in that direction:
“Get the cleaning woman. I never had one until Germany. I think my family would have been happier if I had one when the kids were little. My mother had different ladies come once a week sometimes when I was young, though I still had my chores. Then I married Jay who always had a maid and he insisted. Once every 2 weeks. I talked him out of every week. No complaints except the guilt that I should be doing it even though I'm lousy at it (allergic to most cleaners that make it easier). If you can do it, DO IT! You should be having salons among other things. Your time is too valuable. It changed my life. As long as you can get exercise some other way!” Donna L.
“When my second child was born a friend came to visit. I had just taken the cloth diapers off the line but had not folded them yet. The new baby had colic and I hadn't slept in days. The toddler needed attention too. But she was horrified at the unfolded laundry. I told her that if she had come to see us, we were glad for the company. If she came to see my house, she'd seen it. Don't let the door hit you on the way out. She moved the laundry aside and took a seat. We've been the closest of friends ever since.
“On another occasion, someone asked me to help wallpaper her bathroom. At the very last, she asked to trim one piece herself. Of course she cut it too short and was berating herself for the mistake. I told her that when she has a guest who won't be satisfied until she finds a fault, to take her straight to the short cut paper and show it to her. The search will be over before it begins and everyone can relax.
“The moral of this tale is that friends come to see you. Critics come to see your home. Invite the friends. Skip the critics.” Myra F.
“I started having someone in to clean when I was working and going to school. When I was finished with school I kept the cleaning person. When my husband realized that I wasn't going to school anymore, he suggested we give up the cleaning service. I told him I wasn't doing one more thing than I was before, and if he wanted the cleaning service to go I was good with that as long as he did the cleaning. Now retired, I have someone come in to clean every other week. Having someone clean for me so freeing; it has nothing to do with entertaining, it has to do with never thinking about cleaning. Life should be about doing the things we love and not doing the things we hate (if possible).” Liz R.
I love all these comments. Myra’s about having friends, not critics, rings so true. Your friends come to see you and if there’s stimulating conversation and great food it’s even better but not necessary. My last critic was in August 2011, when I volunteered to host a gathering of new OLLI members. It was a lot of work, cleaning inside and out and preparing little sandwiches and chocolate-dipped strawberries for 14 people. The leader complained that my street was “too narrow for parking,” and that it was too hot in my living room (it was threatening rain so we couldn’t be outside). I suggested she’d be cooler if she took off her jacket, but it would have “spoiled” her ensemble, so she just sat there steaming. Fool me once . . .
Liz and Donna and everyone else I talked to who said to go for it, thanks for your input! I called Maria on Saturday and she’s coming on the 12th. I’ll let you know how it goes.