Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Life without Maria

Did I mention that our housecleaner broke her arm? If not, I'm very surprised because I think about it, and her, at least once every five minutes these days. This was maybe six weeks ago now. She called one day to tell me that she slipped and fell in the bathtub. Ouch. Poor Maria. Even worse, that she was in a cast and would not be able to work for a while. However, in typical Maria fashion, she said that, despite what the doctor was telling her, she thought it wouldn't be too long before she'd be able to come back to work.

So, we left it at that. I hung up the phone, looked around the house and spent about two seconds pondering the fact that I may have to actually clean my house for the first time in, oh, seven or so years. And then it was too much to process so I immediately stopped thinking about it and instead went immediately into the denial stage - which I seem to do so well. No worries, she said she'll be back soon. The house can survive a month without a major cleaning. (Note that it had already been more than a week since she was last here when I received the call.)

Two weeks (or so...I've lost track) later the phone rings again. It's Maria. We had gotten together with our two sets of neighbors (who also use Maria) to send her a "get well soon" bouquet of flowers. Of course she didn't realize how literal that sentiment was for each one of us. No, really, please get well soon! So Maria was calling to thank us (profusely, because she is very sweet) for the flowers and to provide us with an update on her condition:

Maria: So I wanted to let you know that the doctor switched me to my permanent cast today.

Me: Oh, your permanent cast?

Maria: Yes, he said it's going to be at least another three weeks that I'll need to be in this cast and then he'll have to check me again for my progress.

Me: Oh, at least three weeks, huh? (??!!!!!!!!)

Maria: Yes, I'm so sorry for any inconvenience in not being able to clean your house for all this time.

Me: Oh, Maria, it's no problem at all. (What a liar.) You just rest and focus on getting well and give us a call after you talk with the doctor again. Oh, and can you just tell me what you use to clean the toilets?

So, again, I'd lost count but basically at this point we were approaching somewhere in the vicinity of a month w/o a cleaning with clearly no end in sight. As I looked around at the dust bunnies mingling around the floor like best friends at a cocktail party, I knew that denial was no longer an option. Someone needed to clean the house and it clearly was not going to be Maria. Ian offered and I considered it for a minute before deciding that might not be the most efficient route to go. And Jeff didn't really offer. Which is understandable, I guess, since he's got that whole work thing going on.

I spent the next four or so days getting siked up for my adventures in housecleaning. I mean, it's not like I've never cleaned before. I used to be the Queen of Clean(ing), as a matter of fact, before we bought our house in Virginia. But once multiple levels entered into the picture, I decided I was okay with enlisting the help of outside resources. And then it's just hard to go back after that decision is made. To prepare, I spent the weekend doing some deep breathing and stretching exercises, along with reacquainting myself with the myriad cleaning supplies at my disposal. Come Monday morning - with Ian dropped off at school - I was ready. It was a beautiful day outside and I had a lot of energy that morning. In short, it was Me vs. The House and I was determined to come out the winner!

Just like Maria does, I started upstairs in our bathroom. First of all, I never realized how big our vanity was before. Lots to clean there for sure. After that and the toilet, I tackled the bathtub, which took much more bending and general contorting of the body than I anticipated. By that point I was already saying, "Oh, that's good enough!" Next was the shower. I thought, "You know, the shower still looks pretty clean...I've been at this an hour and there's still a lot to do...I'll just skip the shower for now." Well, about 2.5 hours, one more bathroom, four bedrooms, one laundry room later and about two breaks later - I was finally ready to start moving downstairs. Admittedly, I was getting a little tired and it took a little longer than I had hoped. Still, I was not discouraged. One more break and I was ready to tackle the main level.

About 1.5 hours later - somewhere in between cleaning the kitchen, vacuuming the wood floors and getting started on the mopping - is when it first crossed my mind that whomever thought it was a perfectly good idea to buy a 3,000+ square foot home clearly never planned on cleaning it. By that point, I'm pretty sure my energy level was decreasing by the millisecond and breaks were becoming more frequent. Somewhere around that same time Jeff arrived home and sadly, attempted to go up the very same stairs I had just spent 20 minutes vacuuming WITHOUT TAKING OFF HIS SHOES FIRST. I mean, I don't want to exaggerate and say that I flipped out or anything but let's just say I don't think he'll be making that mistake again.

By the time I finished with just minutes to spare before it was time to go pick up Ian, I was not well. For sure it had been Me vs. The House except that I do believe The House came out the winner. By 6pm that evening, every bone and muscle in my body ached. I can only liken it to how one feels when they are coming down with a bad case of the flu. It was, in a word, embarrassing. The next day, I was useless. I did nothing except spend most of the day praying that Maria would return before it was time to clean again. That was about 2.5 weeks ago now. I've recovered but the house is getting dirty again. Especially that shower. And still no call from Maria. As a side note, I can't go without giving credit where credit is due. I did have a couple of helpers that day. Here are some photos of them in action.

Gathering bathroom rugs for the wash:

Overseeing the dusting in (or outside, as the case may be) our bedroom:
Bathtub quality assurance advisor: And finally, taking a break from mopping:
Until I write again.