Why Do We Clean Up for the Cleaners?

This morning I got an e-mail from a friend of mine who had gotten up earlier than usual so she’d have time to straighten up the house before her house cleaner arrived at 9:00. In a way, it makes perfect sense. If your house cleaner allots two hours to clean your house, you don’t want her spending any of that time picking up and putting up, so having the house straight when she comes actually means she’ll have more time for cleaning.

But let’s be honest here. Just what does “straightening up” mean? If you’re my Mom, it means dusting and vacuuming, as well as checking that all mirrors are clean, the bathrooms are presentable, all dishes are put away, and the counters and appliances are wiped down in the kitchen. And yes, my mother has a house cleaner who comes in once a week to do the basic cleaning – dusting, vacuuming, and cleaning the bathrooms. My mother would no more let someone come in to clean a dirty house than she would try to fly.

I had a house cleaner once, years ago, when I convinced myself that my budget could stand the strain. After six months, I let her go, not because of anything she did or didn’t do, but because I just didn’t have the time to get ready for her. I am my mother’s child. I had to have my house clean before she came, and she came on Thursdays. During the week I was bogged down with school work. I had lessons to plan, papers to grade, and so on. I did not have time to dust, vacuum, and mop. That was a weekend thing. But if she came on Thursday, I had to clean on Wednesday, so she had to go.

And don’t even get me started about taking the dogs to the groomer. I have two big dogs, both eighty plus pounds, and they have thick coats. Really thick coats. Their undercoats have undercoats. I know how important it is to brush them regularly, and I really try to brush them every day, but no one’s told them how important it is. The female loves to have her stomach brushed, but hates to have her sides, legs, or tail brushed. She flops over on her back and becomes a dead weight. The male is the opposite. He’ll let me brush his back, but his stomach is a different matter altogether. And forget about his tail. You start messing with that and he’s gone. On an everyday basis, I’m only willing to fight them up to a point, but starting about a week before their appointment with the groomer, the battle is on.

I’m even worse about my writing. Before I’ll send a manuscript to an editor I spend hours and hours going over it, searching for mistakes. I really try to have it perfect before she even sees it. With the time and effort I put into cleaning it up, you’d think she charged by the mistake.

I’m sure there are a lot of other examples. These are just the ones that popped into my head as I chuckled over my friend’s e-mail. Why do we clean up for the cleaners?

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