Is Hiring a Housekeeper a Radical Act?

When I saw Meagan’s post go up at The Happiest Mom about having hired help, I’ll admit that I didn’t go over and read it.  Because, to me, hired help is a reality.  While some may view Meagan as a domestic godess who somehow manages to raise five gorgeous kids, keep up a website, write books, cook dinners, wipe butts… and apparently clean toilets, I see Meagan as a busy working mother.  She has a career and she has kids.  And you know what, she’s confessed to having help.

That got some of her readers all up in tizzy. Like serious panties in a even more serious bunch.  Like a firing squad of 409-yeilding crazy do-it-yourself cleaners!

I never knew having a housekeeper was another fuel source that fans the flames of The Mommy Wars.  I get the SAHM versus Working Mom debate, I understand the Vaccine versus Autism controversy, I’ve personally lived through the Public versus Private School conundrum.  But hiring a housekeeper is controversial?  Really?

Is hiring a help a radical act?

There are lots of things that I “outsource.”  I don’t change my own oil.  With the exception of a couple of fruit trees, a patch of wild strawberries, and two tomato plants, I don’t grow my own food.  I didn’t lay down the patio in the backyard nor did I put in the sprinkler system for the lawn.  On occassion, I’ve ordered a pizza that’s delivered to my home.  While I hate to pay for convenience items at the store, I’ve been known to buy those ridiculously priced salad kits and pre-cut apple slices.

No one has ever openly critized me for not cutting my own apple!

You know what, I have help around the house too.  I have lots of help.  Some of it I pay for like my beloved cleaning service that comes twice a month and my part-time nanny that allows me to continue to be gainfully employed with minor interruption from a demanding yet adorable baby.  Some of it I don’t pay for – like the countless hours of free babysitting we get from the Grandparents. Or our neighbors across the street that invite our older son over to play at least twice a week.

Now perhaps I get judged behind my back about all of the stuff I pay for that I could be doing myself.  I have no clue because no one has ever dared to call me on how I chose to manage “domestic responsibilities.”  I have lots of working mom friends and stay-at-home mom friends that have a housekeeper.  Perhaps here in Silicon Valley having someone clean your home twice a month is the norm.  I do know that when I didn’t have a service – which was on and off for years before I found the cleaners I’ve no had for 2 years – that I wasn’t happy.  The house was always a mess.  We never had time to clean it.  And, sure, I didn’t find much value in spending a Saturday scrubbing toilets and floors when we had no less than a million other important things that needed to get done that day.

Perhaps I don’t get judged because I work full-time.  No one has ever told me how priviledged I am to have a nanny or a housekeeper.  Perhaps “they” are too busy to be judging me for working instead of “raising my kids.”  Perhaps “they” expect my home to be a disaster zone because I’m not there to do my womanly duties.  Perhaps I get a free pass on hiring help because no one expects us working moms to be able to handle it all.

Why do we expect anyone to handle it all?  Why do we expect that of ourselves?

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  1. May 18, 2011
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