Is Hiring a Housekeeper an Obscene Luxury?

July 3, 2012

I have had a housekeeper for years, but I wasn't always comfortable with it. I now acknowledge that she is probably partly responsible for keeping my marriage together.

Those wonderful days when I come home from work and the house smells clean and everything is tidy has saved my sanity.

But I still have days where I struggle with the idea that I have hired someone to clean my toilets. I have hired someone to do the work that I do not want to do myself.

Should I feel guilty about this? I feel privileged that I have the money to afford this service, but some days that just makes me feel worse as the person I have hired is probably desperate for this job and is not applying because of her passion for cleaning houses.

And how many times have I tidied up before the housekeeper comes? What does that say about me… that I am embarrassed by the mess, remembering that I have to see this person face-to-face?

A historical perspective does not help as “housework” was typically regarded as “woman’s work”. And here I am, a woman, but not a superwoman able to do it all, hiring another woman to do my housework. It is not a nice feeling. I doubt that men who hire housekeepers feel this way.

But as a practical matter... I just need a housekeeper! My husband & I would fight constantly about housework otherwise. I value the service and can afford to pay for it.

I provide a respectful and appreciative working environment for my housekeeper. I know that many others pay for work they don't want to do, don't have the time to do, or don't have the skills to do. Why can't I?

And so I have massaged my conscience once again, just in time as my housekeeper is about to arrive.

I leave the house now to do what I do best—shop!