So, I Have a Cleaning Lady – No Need for Verbal Assaults

9 Jan

Written by Jenny From the Blog of THE SUBURBAN JUNGLE

This story ended up in a book of hilarious Mom essays, but it was originally run when I first started blogging, by a major newspaper and their coordinating website, I will not name where.
No, stop asking, ‘cuz I won’t.
Don’t tickle me… stop it.  

Ok – the response was a mostly a verbal assault and a judgmental lashing from people who would never spend their hard earned money to have someone else help around the house.  Personally, I have no problem spending my husbands hard earned money to have someone do that.  (What, you think blogging pays a ton?)  

Ironic, comparison right 'cuz she was the hired nanny.

Frankly, I would consider spending my last dollar on it.  In fact I would clean someone else’s house to make the money to pay someone to clean my own.  I feel I don’t need to apologize for the sanity and extra time I get to play with my kids or the joyful feeling I get from walking into my home- like Julie Andrew’s character feels in the Sound of Music when she’s spinning on the mountain top singing, “The Hills are Alive.”

Oh, you can picture me doing it right?
Cuz I do.  
With song.  
And a flowy 1940‘sesque dress.  
Every time I walk in and smell the fresh scent of Lysol “Fresh Scent.”

I thought I would let you all decide if you can relate or if I’m a horrible person  – for liking a clean house – for putting this extravagance in my budget – for wearing frocks…

Here goes:

I’ve gotten a lot of emails asking me why I haven’t posted lately.


Because I’ve spent the last week cleaning my house.


Because my cleaning lady/tidier/laundry doer, got a job in a physical therapist’s office.


Because she went to college and got a real degree before coming to this country and finding out that her only job options were maid, nanny, or grocery bagger.


Because in America if you don’t speak perfect English you must be unintelligent, even though most of us don’t speak nearly as much of a foreign language as any foreigner does of our’s.


Because we’re lazy, which is the same reason I hate to clean.

I remember the days before I found this woman… I’d just moved to South Florida from NYC and I decided I could do it myself.  I mean, I wasn’t working, so why not?  Whatever made me think I could clean a multi-bedroom house, when I wasn’t cleaning my tiny NY apartment?

I guess it was the guilt over closing my company.  So, I cleaned.  I cleaned a lot! In fact, I could not do anything else around my house until I felt it was clean.  I would clean in the morning, watch my kids immediately undo my work, and then clean the same stuff all over again. Each time I was amazed at how long it took to clean and how quickly it became undone.

I had to make up fascinating “cleaning games” to justify not spending time playing Nerf dart tag, or doing spin art like the “good Mommies” did.Our play was much more educational… I honed Jack’s eye for detail and fine motor skills: “Jack, let’s see if you can match the socks and roll them neatly into pairs.”I knew Jack was a true genius the day he found matches for the 23 mateless socks that I’d run and rerun through the laundry 1000 times before.

I taught Ry about the nuances of tone and hue. “Ry, which colors are dark and which are light?  Ry, that shirt may be white, but the stripes are red, that’s a major oversight on your part. I hope you weren’t hungry cause that just cost you dinner.”

I considered asking Mark for help, but the truth was to watch him try to clean could send us straight to divorce court. He would say, “Just do it once a day, why waste your time?” Which, by the way, is the same argument he has for brushing his teeth, so who would listen to him?

Nope, If you want the job done right i.e. your way… you have to do it yourself.

Plus I’d be too disappointed in the way he would load the dishwasher. Loading a dishwasher takes serious problem solving skills and visual prowess; done correctly, it is an algorithm of perfectly fitting pieces with not a single one to spare.Okay, I’m beginning to sound pathetic, but some of you actually get what I’m saying. You know who you are, you’re the ones thinking, “Please, my dish loading could kick your ass…Biatch!  Well, you know what I say? “Bring it!”

I was so vehemently against having help because I was sure it would reflect on some inability to be a good Mother/Housewife (a title I never thought I would covet the way that I do). I also convinced myself that having help would weaken my right to be a martyr.  However, my need to have “a life” and to resent my husband less won out, and I hired someone.
After a single day I felt like screaming “FREEDOM” while swooshing down a mountain with a cool breeze on my face, or into a deep echoing canyon while blowing my Ricola horn, but alas Florida is flat.  So I traipsed into the swamp, I mean lake, in our back yard and screamed at the top of my lungs.  Unfortunately, it was “Alligator!” and not “Freedom!” but I feel my point was made.

PS the alligators in my swamp are way scarier!

As soon as I zigzagged back into my house, I considered all of my options: Grocery shop, get Starbucks with a friend, shop for my kids, get a mani/pedi, go to the gym, get Starbucks again, or return things from the last time I shopped.

My days were filled with endless monotony and it was exciting.  My afternoons were completely open.  I could do all kinds of things while my daughter napped.  Why I could shop, return things, get Starbucks, work out…When my son got home we played Nerf dart tag and did spin art.

3 day a week, I would return to a neat and straightened house, with clean clothes and an organized pantry. I began saying things like, “You know, I don’t care if you rearrange my drawers, whatever is easier for you.”  I had to make phone calls to find out where things were, and I reveled in it.

I finally got bored with the exciting monotony and decided I would have to do something to distract me from shopping.  I tried chewing gum.  No luck.I tried the patch, but spent hours trying to find the perfect designer patch on the best sale, plus I don’t smoke. I read books by Dr. Oz, and Dr. Drew, and Dr. Phil.I even read a lovely memoir by Dr. J. – to no avail.

So, I decided to write again. Three weeks after, I felt reborn and my Amex felt dejected, jumping out of my bag anytime we so much as drove past a retail store.  It would even put extra groceries in my cart when I walked over to the meat counter.

My Amex wasn’t the only one let down.  A few months later my cleaning lady told me that a friend called to offer her a job at a physical therapist’s office.  I said, “Are you kidding me?  Who do you expect to do my laundry, clean the kitty litter, vacuum… me? I had that job once, it sucked!”

Luckily, when I talk fast, she doesn’t understand a word.  So I slowly articulated this: “You have to take it, congratulations!” and gave her a huge hug.  She still comes a few hours a week, because in her own words: “you need me.” Apparently, she’s never seen me load a dishwasher, but If you don’t tell I won’t.

Jenny Isenman:

 Jenny’s the founder of the awesomely funny and hugely popular  She guarantees that reading it will make you smarter, tanner, and reduces cellulite.  She is also the mother of two amazing children who are not the least bit spoiled and have no attitude or entitlement issues.  She has a fabulous dog that had never had an accident and a cat who speaks Mandarin.  Sadly for the cat, Jenny does not.

If she could hold up one sign it would read:  “Will work for shoes.” or “Will learn Mandarin for shoes.” (if only the cat could afford shoes.)

If she could describe herself in one word it would be:  “Disarmingly-honest, anxiety-ridden, self-deprecating, hilariously-funny, humble, over-analyzing fashion-whore with a penchant for misusing hyphens.”

She has cellulite begging her to stop wearing short shorts, laugh lines screaming for restylane, crows feet crying for botox, and spends far too much money trying to look dewy.

Jenny’s Other Specialties include:  Resenting and nagging her husband, stressing about family trips months before they happen, and pretending she’s still cool, even though she realizes that calling herself “cool” is a sure sign that she’s not.

Her ultimate goal: To make life easier for women through laughter and tips, which will help them save time, money, face, and most importantly… SANITY!   Oh, and to teach dolphins to read.

Other shit about Jenny:   Jenny Isenman, is a humor columnist and lifestyle expert.  She’s also contributed segments to NBC locally and nationally as well as CBS, FOX, Momtourage and Nickelodeon’s ‘Parents Connect.’ A freelance writer by trade her work has been featured in local and national mags including Redbook, InStyle, Latina, and Mademoiselle as well as parenting and lifestyle sites: iVillage, Momtourage, HybridMom, SheKnows, NewParent, Babble, and Momtourage.

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17 Responses to “So, I Have a Cleaning Lady – No Need for Verbal Assaults”

  1. Lori Stefanac January 9, 2012 at 4:50 PM #

    Jenny, I HATE cleaning my own house. HATE. However I made the fatal mistake of doing a better job than the cleaning company I last hired. Such a rookie error! Anyhow, I’ve recently started doing a completely half-assed job in the hopes of being “fired” from this position. I threw a red sock in with my husband’s whites so that now all of his underwear is pink, and I’ve allowed all sorts of plant life to grow in our toilet. The plant thing is a little scary though. Think “Little Shop of Horrors”…minus the catchy showtunes. Yeah. I may have to Lysol that fucker.

  2. Jenny From the Blog January 9, 2012 at 5:00 PM #

    Funny, I like picturing it with the catchy show tunes. Then I’d hope for a hearty stomach flu so that I could get a little free entertainment!

  3. Karen Baitch Rosenberg January 9, 2012 at 6:18 PM #

    Great post, Jenny! My husband figured out long ago that in order to prevent a divorce, we needed help around the house. He was tired of re-cleaning everything I thought I’d cleaned. She comes here once a week. I lie to my friends and say she comes every other week because I feel guilty.

    • Jenny From the Blog January 9, 2012 at 6:32 PM #

      I love that your husband was recleaning what you cleaned. Don’t get me wrong, I need someone for sanity, but I love the idea of my husband being a back-up! That would NEVER cross my mind.

  4. Fran W January 9, 2012 at 7:40 PM #

    Very funny, Jenny – I’m going to subscribe to your blog now! Of course, I love having someone else clean my house, but I work from home and I CANNOT STAND being home when the cleaning service is here. Not that I have a choice, mind you, because I’m not giving it up. First, I need to make sure that the house is straightened up before they come…because I’m HERE and I don’t want them to look at me face to face with a “this house is a sty” expression…Plus I feel sort of trapped in my office because I don’t want to have a face to face encounter. I want faceless cleaning…wish I could hire an elf to clean at night… :o )

    • Jenny From the Blog January 9, 2012 at 9:35 PM #

      Thanks Fran. Oh, no one likes their house to be dirty before someone comes to clean it. It’s important to impress them with our own abilities. We never want someone to think we’re so unkempt that we actually need the help we’re paying for.

  5. cherie January 9, 2012 at 8:54 PM #

    great post i don’t know what i would do without help I had help for the longest time that actually did the worst job ever but I could’t bring myself to fire them Finally my daughter shamed me into getting someone else Now I’m happy again

    • Jenny From the Blog January 9, 2012 at 9:36 PM #

      Well if you’re going to pay for it, it should be good. Or at least that’s what people say about hookers. Wait, we are talking about hookers right?

  6. Pamela January 9, 2012 at 9:39 PM #

    Very funny!

  7. Karen January 9, 2012 at 9:40 PM #

    Jenny Baitch Isenman, aka Jenny from the Blog. So funny. Follow her @

  8. JennyFromTheBlog January 9, 2012 at 9:41 PM #

    Thanks ladies!!! You should totally follow me. Seriously, you’ll get rich. No? Smart. No? Snarky. Definitely!

  9. Pamela January 9, 2012 at 9:41 PM #

    Jenny, I just read some of your older blogs…. you are very funny! I actually laughed out loud! I “liked” your FB page and I look forward to reading more from you! Thanks for sharing, Karen!

  10. Carol January 10, 2012 at 3:53 PM #

    I miss my housecleaners…they were sacrificed on the altar of paying for college for #1 son.

  11. JennyFromTheBlog January 10, 2012 at 3:55 PM #

    I hope he majored in custodial services, cause he owes you. Ok, I don’t hope he majored in that.

  12. Having attended a Jewish High School, always swearing at my atheist husband in yiddish, and feeding the 500 when there are only six at dinner- I just have to ‘like’ this blog!

  13. Jenny From the Blog January 11, 2012 at 3:23 PM #

    Oy, do you belong here. Next time you curse him out, give him a “kish mir tuchus” from me.

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