This Monday morning at 7.50 am I got a message from my cleaning lady saying that she could not come to work because she had to run some errands. Normally this would be no biggie, but since last week I fell off the stairs on a parking lot and sprained my ankle, hearing the sudden news was quite disturbing for me. Upon reading her message, I had to jump out of bed and rush to get the two kids out of the house on time which is challenging enough for any woman on earth but even more so for me being alone and injured. Getting them dressed also means finding their uniforms and backpacks which for whatever reason, my cleaning lady tends to keep in the most strange places.
One day, all of my daughters’ pacifiers were gone. I looked all over the house, in the drawers, in the crib, in the stroller bag…all gone. Finally, I called the cleaning lady and asked her “Amparo, where are the baby’s pacifiers?” “In the blue cupboard madam”. “Of course!” I opened the buffet’s door and there they were. That’s what I am talking about.
Since Monday, I have been calling her and calling her because she had said that she would be back on Monday afternoon and did not show up, she never picked up the phone either, which made me suspicious about the whole thing. Okay I’ll be honest, by the end of the day Monday I was overwhelmed with panic. What am I going to do with all the accumulated garbage from the weekend, the clothes, my doctors appointments, how am I going to teach my English lessons on Friday? Nevertheless, the day went by relatively well. I stayed at home and took care of what I could, one thing at a time.
In the afternoon I picked up my two year old at daycare as usual and ran into the head teacher on her way home. She looked very tired. I don’t blame her, she runs a very busy daycare center and is always the first to arrive, she has two small children of her own and I do not know about her relationship status or if she has any outside help. “I wish I could get home and relax a bit, just for one day”. She said. We made a joyful comment about how women get to have double shifts these days. It is not the first time that this happens and we always take it jokingly when in fact, it is not funny at all.
Ironically enough, the day after was Tuesday, International Women’s Day, and my cleaning lady still wasn’t answering my calls. As I sat on my messy kitchen and had my morning coffee I thought “Hundreds of years later and here we are, still depending on each other to cope with the multiple things that we are supposed to get done because one single person cannot do it all and we want to pretend that we can so we rely on house help or mom to cover gaps for us”.
Men like the double income, some even expect it even when there are small children in the house. But they rarely sit down and say something like “Ok, since we both work we will split the house and children responsibilities evenly”. They put in their two cents, fine, and those who do brag about it “I pick up the kids at school and take them to music lessons while my wife is at work” but let’s be honest, they don’t do nearly as much as women do. And that is fact. Unless of course we are talking about a stay-at-home dad, in which case dad takes care of the kids and their schedules and is seldom pressured by the bread winner wife to take out the Dyson or to earn a dime. But where does that pressure come from? Most of the time from other women. Apparently it is cool to be a stay at home dad, but it is not so cool to be a stay at home mom or to be too successful or too good looking or too thin or too laid back. Why on earth is this?
Going back to the cleaning lady. I need her, I really do. If I want to study to become a teacher for the government (because I had been so busy producing my first husband that I started a business that was only successful only until my first son was born) I need someone to do the house chores. I am not saying that I have the entire day for studying like most male candidates studying for the same position do. No, no, no. I have to take my kids to school, pick them up, take them to extracurricular activities, bathe them, cook dinner for them, make sure that there is food in the house, be around if anyone is coming for house maintenance. All of this while getting dressed reasonably well, and by that I mean putting together outfits with garments that are years old and have nothing to do with the latest trends because unlike what many people tend to think when I mention my blog, I am no fashion blogger. I do not have time for that nor do I like to portray an image of easily accesible luxury to teenagers that will end up frustrated because they can’t be like their favorite bloggers or who, in an attempt to be, will take their parents credit card behind their back and make a real mess to purchase that Celine bag on sale.
Still, relaying on the fact that I used to be a model and nature blessed me with 5.9 inches and a fast metabolism that allows me to eat what I want and still be a size 4 I pull outfits off quite well even with old clothes. Then I have my hair done, apply some make up, nothing much, enough to look like a respectable individual and even that is not possible some days.
When Amparo did not show up nor returned my calls I called the agency and asked for a replacement. Nobody was available so what did I do? I called the crocodile and asked for help.
Upon learning about the situation crocodile saw an opportunity to suggest reducing the number of hours that the cleaning lady renders services at this house. He immediately thought. “Well, it is Tuesday afternoon, she was able to do it for two days, she may as well do it every morning”. He suggested that I woke up even earlier than I already do (7.50 am) so that I would have enough time to get everything ready by the time the kids were up. That appears unfeasible considering that many nights I get up twice in the middle of the night because one of them is sick or has a nightmare and that since living with crocodile, I suffer from insomnia.
I said “No thank you, I will find a replacement” and hung up the phone. Then, I took care of everything in the house myself or course. Upon finishing, I was sweating like a pig and looked terrible. Still in my pijamas, hair undone…, I looked at myself in the mirror and thought “This is just wrong”.
So I took a shower and I put together an outfit (as I said, nothing much, I am no fashion blogger but can do wonders with 4 year old pieces of clothing, one or two newer pieces and a couple of nice accessories). Then I took a picture of myself (a selfie) and sent it to crocodile with the following message: “Do you see this woman? To look like this women need some production time. Do you like this type of woman or do you prefer one that stays at home in pjs until is time to go pick up the kids from school and does so wearing leggings and a t-shirt? “I would be happy with a happy housewife” He replied. Just like his mom. But don’t be fooled, stop taking care of yourself and they will go looking for sassiness somewhere else.
My cleaning lady called today. She was down with a flu. Unlike most mothers, she actually gets to take time off when she is not feeling well. She will be back in no time.