Next to Godliness…really?


If you’ve been hanging with AGMA for a spell, you realize that I have a number of dirty little secrets. My thin mint addiction, my obsession with professional male cyclists in spandex, my desire for a tramp tat…

All are things I wouldn’t want to share with a child under ten. Or my husband.

And I have one more. Not really dirty. Just a secret. It better not be dirty for what I shell out…

I actually pay somebody to clean my house every two weeks.

I’m so ashamed. I feel like an elitist 1%er. What would Bernie say? What would my stern, frugal father say? What would my step-mother say?

Actually, she would probably say, “Atta girl!” Louise hated doing domestic stuff. I don’t know for sure, but I suspect she probably had a housekeeper/cook when she was working full time and married to her first husband.

After she married my father, he persuaded her to quit her job. It was important that he be her first priority. Not surprising. So she went from business woman to full time domestic goddess. It wasn’t her dream job.

However, she dutifully executed her work. She was after all, from a good German family where all the walls got wiped down every spring, floors were scrubbed until they shone and sheets were ironed to make them “crisp”. I never really wanted crispy sheets, but I didn’t have a choice. She made all of the sheets “crisp”.

But she really didn’t like any of it. And, for better or worse, she passed on an extreme dislike of domestic duties to me. I nearly flunked Home Ec.

But like Louise, I was a trooper the while my kids were grown up.

I made dinner every night. The cuisine was mostly Midwestern post-modern – meatloaf with ketchup and onion soup mix, a variety of Hamburger Helper “flavors”, frozen chicken nuggets, and whatever would cook in a crock pot and still remain edible.  Fruit and vegetables were from cans.

Hey…they survived.

My 32 year old son, who now eats raw kale, chard and other woody, stemmy, barely chewable vegetables, mentions how unhealthy my dinners were when he was growing up. Quite frequently.

The last time, I shot back, “When you work part-time, take care of aging parents, drive in multiple carpools, hate to cook and are married to your father, then talk to me. We’ll see what YOU make for dinner.”

That shut him up.

But really, nothing compares to the battles fought over the years trying to keep our house from disintegrating into a scene from some post-apocalyptic world. AGMA turned from caring, understanding, encouraging, loving wife and mother into loud bitchy shrew. I wasn’t about to clean up their mess.

I realize we’ve found out that Bill Cosby is a sexual predator and has left many victims in his wake over the years. His immoral acts and attempted cover-ups are reprehensible. But I have to admit (sheepishly) that I still consider some of his family themed comedy classically brilliant.

On his comedy album, Bill Cosby Himself (1983), in describing his angry wife, he uncannily describes AGMA on housecleaning day…

I’ve always heard about people having a conniption, but I’ve never seen one. You don’t want to see ’em! My wife’s face… split! The skin and hair split and came off of her face so that there was nothing except the skull! And orange light came out of her hair and it lit all around! And fire shot from her eye sockets and began to burn my stomach!

Despite my head splitting open with dizzying frequency, I really was sad when both of my son’s went off to college. On the other hand, I was finally going to get to the bottom of many household mysteries related to moldy food stuffs  and sour smells discovered in unlikely places.

Of course, when they were all at home, none of them was ever the guilty one. It was always somebody else who left toast crumbs all over the couch or spilled the juice on the floor.

But as they flew from the nest, things began to change. This list of the usual suspects got much smaller.

Then it was just hubs and myself. And there was nobody left to point a finger at when toast crumbs littered the hardwoods or milk soured in a puddle on the counter. The house slowly started not looking so post-apocalyptic.

But it still wasn’t good.

Coming from a long line of lackadaisical individuals, my husband was not raised in an environment that believed, as my mostly German father and step-mother did, that “cleanliness is next to Godliness”. Hubs pretty much wouldn’t notice if our house was featured on the reality show, Hoarders.

And while AGMA never fully committed to the “next to Godliness” thing, I do like having a semi-clean and tidy home. This however, does not seem to extend to my car.

As it turns out, recruiting outside house cleaning help was a marriage survival strategy.

Now I don’t have to feel like Cinderella, cleaning the whole house by myself and missing the ball. And he doesn’t have to take time away from….ah….whatever it is he does when he isn’t working. Most of it appears to revolve around his smartphone, his laptop and the TV.

But hey – I’m busy too. I have my part-time massage therapy practice, the New York Marathon to train for, an eBay business to build and, most importantly, a blog to write…

So for the near future, it looks like we’ll continue to be 1%ers. Sort of.

We’ll probably revisit this line item in our budget after he retires. I’m sure he’ll be much more engaged on the domestic front after that. And he’ll be happy to dust and scrub sinks.

And Donald Trump is a really nice man who’s just being picked on by the RNC and Megan Kelly.

42 thoughts on “Next to Godliness…really?

  1. I know how you feel. SInce my son moved out over a decade ago and my husband died 6 years ago, it has just been me and the cats. To sell my house I had to throw out tons of stuff that my husband collected. Then when I found my condo, I had to wee through my stuff to keep what was truly of value. Now I just clean when things look yucky. (Mostly cat hair from my two girls.) But now that I am a new grandmother and the son and his wife may be bringing the baby over, I am in a panic! How will I have enough time on short notice to do that much cleaning, especially when the baby starts crawling!! I can see my home banned for the baby! Well, where there’s a will there’s a way.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. “Post-modern – meatloaf,”I love it! During my bachelor period after my first marriage ended, I splurged on a cleaning woman who came to my apartment very two weeks. It was absolute heaven to know that the place would never get to a really bad, unkempt state. But this suddenly changed the day she left an announcement of an upcoming wine festival on my dining room table with a note asking me if I’d like to go with her. RUH-ROH. A little voice inside told me that once you start dating your cleaning lady.. well, she was no longer going to be my cleaning lady. I declined. Hats off you to you, though!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Ruh-roh is right! You gotta keep those boundaries firm or all hell could break loose!

      It is great knowing that the place is semi-clean every two weeks. We have cats so you never really get rid of the cat hair… We have one of those vacuums that you have to clean out every time and it’s always full up with cat hair. It’s kind of miraculous either one of them still have fur. I think I could have made 5 cats out of the fur I’ve cleaned out of that vacuum over the years! 🙂


  3. Low lighting is the key to my housekeeping success. Good for you keeping the economy going by sacrificing your housework so someone else can earn some dough!! Your blog is just great!!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thanks! We’ve had folks on and off for the last 10 years (mostly on…) help us with the housework. The worst part is a couple of days before “cleaning day” when I have to try to get my husband to pick up all his stuff that is all over the place. Even if nothing ever got cleaned, it’s worth it just to have the “stuff” picked up and put away every two weeks! He likes to grow a sock collection under the coffee table! 🙂


  4. Good help is hard to find – I can’t anymore. The first gal was paid by the hour, after a couple of months, she was “doing” the whole house in an hour and a half and expecting full payment for 4 hours. Grease was a tenth of an inch thick on my stove and other things she didn’t see in her haste. Bah-Bye. 2nd gal helped me clean my closet – odd how the stuff I said to keep ended up gone and the stuff she was supposed to donate still hung in the closet. Bah-Bye. 3rd got half-finished and had to leave quickly, asking her full pay because she was tight, promised she would be back the next day, it was six weeks. The last one was just off her nut, I was thrilled for her when she found a full time job. If your gal does a decent job, hang on to her, or send her my way! Please!
    My husband cooks, he does not clean (anything) after himself. Nuff said …
    Enjoy your jewel!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know that good help is really hard to find! Sorry to hear that you had so many bad experiences. I’ve had similar experiences over the years as well but not quite to that extreme.

      I pay a flat fee to them for cleaning my place. About 6 months ago, I had to lower the hammer because things that were formerly getting done got skipped so they could leave sooner. Like mopping the hardwoods (which is most of my house…) I was kind of livid. I feel like I’ve always been really easy going with them and they were taking advantage of my oh so sweet nature! I guess it worked because they are back to doing a great job!

      And lucky you that your husband cooks! I’d clean up in a heartbeat if mine would do some cooking.


  5. Love it AGMA! Keep your priorities straight! I must admit, it was pleasant to work from home today while Lori and Brenda cleaned around me (only once a month here though darnit!) and allowed me to watercolor after dinner in a clean house. 🙂 You cracked me up at the end with the Trump comment!! LOL!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Jodi! It is great to be able to concentrate on other things that I’m more passionate about (in a good way) rather than clean (which I am also passionate about but in a bad way…) Hey – when the hubs retires, we might have to go down to once a month, but it’s sure a heck of a lot better than none a month! Ha!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I was working on a comment about Bernie and the %1 when I read in your post, “the New York Marathon to train for”

    My brain is melting down. Running?!? on purpose? a round the block is bad enough but 26 miles? Whoa. No wonder you pay someone to clean your house. Who’d have energy for cleaning after running. Heck I get out of breath running to the refrigerator. I am getting tired just thinking about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha! You made me laugh! Could you post a picture of Andrew’s melted down brain?

      I’ve written several posts about my running. And if I could figure out how to like the titles with the actual posts, I’d be a happy woman… But I can’t so I’ll just give you the names: Fuzzy Butts as far as the eye could see (Feb 2015) AND Every Beat of My Heart (Oct 2015)

      Yes – I’m not sure what’s wrong with me, but I do love to run. And evidently long distances. Who knew?Now I am definitely NOT fast and I’m not a pure runner. I do the run/walk method – highly recommended for folks of a “certain age” who expect their knees and hips to hold out.

      So yeah – I’d much rather run than clean. Too bad the running doesn’t make $$. But I guess you could also say that by running, I’m staying in shape, keeping my weight down, boosting my immune system and reducing stress thereby saving 1000’s of dollars on medical care down the road. Except for the odd hip and/or knee replacement… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. My mother taught me many housecleaning/ironing chores when I was growing up. Her favorite statement was, “You kids are going to break my back!” The guilt worked. Fortunately, my wife and I can afford house cleaners every two weeks, although they never do the job as well as my mother taught me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh my, no….as much as my step-mother hated to clean, she was very, very good at it! And she never guilted me so I must have been pretty tidy (but it was only me and I was afraid of my dad, so I learned how to keep things peaceful!) I know my house wouldn’t past the muster with her… But it works for us because it’s “mostly” clean and doesn’t cost us a fortune.

      My SIL tried various housekeepers over the years, but she expected somebody who would clean between the tiles with a toothbrush and be really anal like her. Needless to say, nobody was ever good enough so she ended up cleaning herself. I just don’t get that! Yeah – I’m glad I’m not that picky…


  8. Maybe it’s the anal retentive ex-dental hygienist in me, but I do like a clean house and I really don’t mind doing it myself. (I’m not as much of a clean freak as my late father-in-law. He used to use a carpet rake to rake his way through their green shag carpet before leaving for work in the morning, and then leave it in the coat closet by the front door. The carpet looked like a footprint-free grassy meadow when he was done.)

    We have tile floors and area rugs, so going around with a Swiffer sweeper and my new baby, a Bissell turbo pet hair vacuum, actually takes little time. It’s very satisfying to me to see the huge glob of cat hair that vacuum picks up every week. Who knew that much was lurking there? It helps that my husband is just as bad as I am. He’s an ex-dentist, so maybe it goes along with the territory. His mother, however, is the queen of clutter with little piles of letters, papers, etc. all over every surface.

    I do like the advice of (I think it was) the late Erma Bombeck. She said if you come to visit at her house and you pick up a tchotchke on a table, please put it back exactly where it had been so you won’t see the ring of dust . And Phyllis Diller had the right idea about cleaning. Why bother? Six months later, you’ll just have to do it all over again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Erma and Phyllis – very wise women! I think if you spend your life with you hands in people’s mouths, you would be concerned about cleanliness. At least I HOPE you would…

      I’ll have to check out that Bissell! Our constant battle is with the cat hair that is everywhere! It’s like we have 10 cats instead of 2. Where the heck does all that hair come from? Does it regenerate overnight? No wonder they have hairballs! Yuck!

      My dad’s thing was the garage. The floor in his garage was cleaner than any kitchen floor I’ve ever had. It was painted with a glossy paint that was shiny and I really think you could have eaten off the floor. Plus the rest of the garage was incredibly neat and tidy and organized. And none of his tools had any dirt or grease on them. The garage was his kingdom!


  9. I loathe cleaning as much as you do. I’ve never understood the mentality of those who insist on cleaning every single week, if not more often. Our immune systems need to be exposed to some dust and dirt!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh i detest cleaning unless I’m in a menopausal rage and then its the safest thing i can do to avoid arrest. I also had two boys Ald can’t even begin to tell the stories and finds from the two of them living in my house. i used to put to them. .MY house. 😊
    Good for you on the cleaning lady! I’ve been pondering the idea myself. Even once a month would work here with the heathens gone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Do it!! It’s one of the best investments ever and will make you very happy! And I used to go into those rages, but it would be pre-menopausal – when the kids were still at home and teenagers. I would clean and clean and clean. Those were the only times that I actually liked cleaning – it was better than having our home be a crime scene and having CSI called in!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Good Morning, AGMA. Just had to come back and share a cleaning issue after the post I wrote today. Growing up in that OCD household that insisted on spending every Saturday cleaning, ad nauseum, I missed out on a lot of my childhood/teenage fun time. So in my own home, even to this very day, you’ll never catch me doing housework on Saturday…ever. Just wanted to share a tiny rebellion with you. ☺

    And remind you to stay in that 1% and keep that cleaning service for as long as you can. 💖

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Van! Interesting about the Saturday morning trauma! I think that’s the reason my car is such a pit… My dad was a total clean freak about his car. It was like driving around in a hermetically sealed capsule. He’d yell at you if you so much sneeze in it! Consequently, my car seats have coffee stains on them, there are leaves and crumbs on the carpet, and I have so much random junk in it that it looks like I’m living out of my car. Oh yeah – I get it. It’s funny how that stuff affects you for such a long time…

      I wonder what trauma I passed onto my kids. I probably don’t want to know… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Lucky you Linda to have such a jewel! It makes your health challenges not quite as challenging to have the right people you know you can count on helping you out. Thanks much for your comment and sharing with us!


  12. Hey, I had two long-haired girls to contend with. Seems like they did a lot of the same food related stuff your boys did but add hair everywhere to that equation to get an idea of what their rooms, especially the bathroom, looked like when they lived at home. I tried to hire that work out when we lived in Brentwood, but the wimps the agencies sent just couldn’t do my whole house in a half day so I was forced to do it, sporadically, myself!
    Now that both Spouse and I are retired, he cleans his half of the house when he feels the need, and I do the same with my half. When we start collecting Social Security next year, I hope to hire that out like you do, so I can write like you do.
    Meanwhile, I have FINALLY started blogging more regularly, doing a daily challenge, which is a LOT of work. I hope you’ll check out some of my posts from last week, which I think you’ll appreciate.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So happy that you are blogging more!! I really feel that, right now, I have all that I can handle with my once a week post. Pretty lame…. But there’s a season for everything, and one of these days I may find myself taking on a daily challenge! I’ll bop on over to read a post or two – thanks for letting me know!

      Girls. I hadn’t really ever considered the unique challenges girls present in the form of hair! You must have spent a fortune of drain products!

      So I love how your house is divided into HIS and HER sections! What does the HER section include? 🙂

      And I hope that you can find somebody to help out! For us, every two weeks is perfect. We don’t muck it up enough after one week, but after two, the cat hairs start getting out of control!


  13. You raised your son well. He wants and does cook. 😀

    My partner (of last 25 yrs.) told me his 2 adult children are neater….than I after they left home and had their own places.

    Go figure out…this mess. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Honestly, both of my boys cook now! But the younger one really gets into it, and like greens and kale and healthy stuff like that. The other is not so healthy, but still – he cooks!

      One time we were visiting our older son and his wife after the moved into their new condo with some sort of fancy hardwood floors. My DIL’s parent were there too and were in the kitchen, making dinner. My son literally was following them around an wiping ever little speck that fell onto to floor. And we have to take our shoes off at the door when we visit. I want to ask him who he is and what he did with my son, because this is NOT the son that lived in the same house that I did for 18 years and then lived in apartments in college that were literally filthy. It’s amazing how my DIL has tamed him! Not sure if it’s good or bad….

      Liked by 1 person

      • Only future way off will know if it was his motivation that outweighed wife’s for him to make this cleaning habit change. My partner hasn’t influenced me effectively. He is by nature a neat person and always has been. I think it was because as little boy he was quite sick often..and developed a tendency to be clean himself. (His mother was also a tidy person.)

        Liked by 1 person

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