I’ve Been Cleaning for the Nanny
There is a near-empty bottle of pinot noir on our kitchen counter. My husband thought to “seal” the mouth of the bottle with plastic wrap after a fruitless search for the cork. There are several hand-wash only items growing invisible colonies of cooties in the sink. Stemware. A fondue pot. From the look of our kitchen, one might assume that we had a party last night. We didn’t. The party is today. It is a pity party, and no one will be coming except me.
I’m a bit of a slob. Not the professional-caliber slob that is featured on Hoarders: Buried Alive; I can’t hang with those folks. I confess that I dabble in untidiness, though. Is our house so bad that I force unexpected guests to stay on the porch? No. Do said unexpected guests feel better about themselves and their household management skills after they leave? Probably. Do we have plenty of clean clothes and towels? Yes. Do we have to pluck them out of the dryer? Sometimes. Things with germs (i.e. dishes, toilets and socks) are cleaned consistently. Unsightly but odor-free messes (i.e. stacks of catalogs on the air hokey table, The Avengers on the china cabinet, colored pencils under the art table) are dealt with in a less timely fashion and take a back seat to more important things in life such as working, sleeping, blogging, talking on the phone, watching television, reading, and complaining about the state of the house.
Until this week, I thought I was growing and evolving as a wife, mother, and homeowner. I have been making our bed (if not the the kids’ beds) 9 times out of 10 for years, now. I have been getting all the dishes done before bed on most nights. Washing the towels daily. I thought these habits were calcified, part of my character, but I have just come to the realization that I have simply been cleaning house to impress the nanny.
woman saint named Rhonda, “Nonna” to the kids, gets Carrie and William off of the school bus every afternoon. She cares for them until my husband and I return home from work. Nonna has been keeping the kids for years – started when William was just a baby.
The children have been out of school for two weeks now because of Christmas break, so we have been out of our routine. Rhonda has a day job, you see. She cannot provide the amount of childcare we need for long holidays like Christmas break, so we typically line something else up. The kids have been staying in the home of another sitter since December 22nd.
In Rhonda’s absence, I am disappointed to find that I am walking past, putting off and ignoring all kinds of messes. The bed, for example. I haven’t made it but once or twice in two weeks. I look at it in the morning, I look at the clock, and I decide I’d rather get to work two minutes early instead of making the bed. No one will see it, I think to myself. Rhonda isn’t coming. Todd can make it himself, if it bothers him.
The Incredible Hulk and the seven dwarfs are hanging out on the left corner of the dining room table and have been for days. That is where Rhonda sits when she waits for the bus. I would have picked them up sooner under normal circumstances, but we are not under normal circumstances. There is no bus. No Rhonda. No law and no order. I have surrendered to the anarchy of Christmas vacation, and the energy I typically put into picking up after the kids is now going to napping and experimenting with the panini press my mother gave me for Christmas.
I don’t get two weeks off from work; haven’t since I left my school system job in 2008. I took off for Christmas day and New Year’s day. That’s it, and that is fine. I have vacationed in my own way, it has been fun, and now it is over. I dread cleaning this place up, but I welcome what will follow: sack lunches, school buses, the return of our beloved Nonna, and the shame-induced cleanliness that comes from having someone other than family in the house on a regular basis.