Oh dear, I cleaned before the cleaner came. Rubbish I know, but it had to be done, really, honestly it did. Now, I'm not one of those lucky housewives who get to have a cleaner every week, oh no. Apparently we don't need one, I have Husband you see to help, and the children, crikey even the puppy chips in. Apparently.
Obviously I didn't give up my career to clean the house, or clear up after everybody else. I gave it up to raise the children, provide them with that much heralded parent (read mother) at home.Oh yes. Cleaning was something we would do in the evenings and at weekends, rather like when we both worked full time. We had a democratic partnership you see. Not for us those pre war roles, we were re-writing the rule book, let's hear it for emancipation! Yeah!
You see, since giving up work, ostensibly I don't work. No! Not a jot! So there's acres of time to clean, and acres of time left to raise the children. Lovely. Lucky me.
So, there we have it, somewhere along the line (clothesline, if you will), I agreed, albeit in stealth like stages that of course I could cook the tea/pop into Sainsburys/pick up the dry cleaning/clean the loo (skid marks a speciality), crikey I'll even spin plates I've so much time. A sunny afternoon with Jack screaming in the trolly, Isla skipping in front getting under the wheels simultaneously undressing Barbie and me picking out the menu for the week (five fruit and veg a day/check all labels/pretend the chicken nuggets are for the dog, you never know if Jamie O or even more hideously Gillian McK might pop up behind you, microphone in hand saying loudly tell me Mrs C, why do you feed your children such hideous junk? Oh the shame). Yep, that's how I envisaged raising my kids, in the supermarket.
So that was it, I gave up cleaning about a month ago. Ahhhhhh.
You see I was working on that stupid theory that if you don't wash your hair for a month it becomes self cleaning (it doesn't, trust me, it ends up smelling and anything within a two meter radius gets stuck in it. It's like a living compost bin). So I was going to put up with the slide into rubbish dump mess clinging on to the glimmer ahead that was shiny taps and fresh toilets. I closed my eyes with determination at the old toothpaste gnarled around the tube, hole completely blocked, the only way to dispense any was through a little cut in the side that Husband had made with his nail clippers.
I even turned a blind eye (and nose) to the blocked sink/shower/toilet. Husband blames my long hair, but if that's the only culprit then that would be admitting to being hairier than next door's dog (and she'd kill me, we meet for a glass of wine occasionally).
Gradually I began to despair, any glimmer in the distance was simply an old bottle top that no one had put out for recycling (another thing I have acres of time for). Either way the house looked disgusting, which in turn made me look disgusting. No one else you understand, me. At no point would anyone ever think that Husband allowed us to live in this mess would they? Oh no, he's busy at work, Wife has acres of time.
I booked a cleaner. Ahhhhhhhh.
The terror began slowly. What would they think of me (it was so bad the company said they thought they should send two. Two!), how could I let everyone live like this. Oh no! What had I done?
So that was that. I clung on, sat on my hands, drank copious amounts of chardonnay each evening to numb the fear of Friday, Judgement Day, I was not, repeat not (in slightly strangled voice) going to clean.
But no use, Thursday arrived, chardonnay stayed on ice, and I caved (you'll notice I cave frequently, I'm thinking of buying one of those hats with a torch on). Scrubbing brush and bleach in hand I scoured, swept and de-toothpasted the house. It looked fantastic, it said here lives a woman who looks after her family, not for her the shoddy corner cutting of the sloppy housewife. I left no corner cut, not even grazed. Husband came to bed, oblivious to the difference, but then why would he notice, even though he'd just spent a month getting the house just as he liked it? But I noticed, and so would the cleaners.
They came, they cleaned, they made absolutely no comment. No comment at all. Nothing! Where was my praise, my A+, my admiration at being so house proud that even at this level of clean I thought it needed a good going over by professionals? They said absolutely nothing.
Until they left, going down the path: more money than sense said cleaner #1 I know, easiest day I've had in years, you'd think she would have left it a bit, you know, just to get her money's worth said cleaner #2. As I said, more money than sense.