There was a time that feels like another lifetime ago, that I had a small cleaning business and served the same loyal and wonderful clients for years and years. I had started it to help Jack earn money that usually ended up being sucked into our old house, a rambling 12 room Queen Anne Victorian that was in constant need of something. Since Jack worked for the sheriffs department on the 3-11 shift, and we were raising four kids on a very tight budget, I needed a well-paying job that I could control the hours and days so I could be there for the kids instead of paying for daycare or after school daycare even. Armed with my well-stocked cleaning bucket, a peculiar love for Windex and not the least bit afraid of hard work, I had a nice little gig going on with some wonderful people for about fourteen years.
As with most physical jobs, it had an expiration date attached to it that I didnt see coming. I developed a torn rotator cuff and some lower back problems that came with the work and I suppose, my age. When one client moved into a mega mansion I finally saw I was going to kill myself if I kept it up. For all those years I was a solo cleaner, as hiring people could have put me at risk of opening up these clients to people who may steal or not do the thorough job I was dedicated to doing for them. I also couldn’t afford all the legal shmegal stuff that comes with being a real company with real employees with every sort of state licenses and permits and all the insurances attached to it and… well, you get it. It gets very messy and all I wanted to do was clean houses, make money for my family and be home by the time my kids got out of school.
Today I’m the chief cook and bottle washer at the Inn. I think about the days long gone where I rushed out of our house as soon as the kids were off to school, cleaned two or three houses top to bottom, and was home with enough left in me to greet the kids, spend time with them before I made supper, and still get them all washed up and ready for bed before I myself could climb into bed. I’m in awe of how I did it. Was that even me? These days I make up one room and I need a nap!
This morning, a young mom came to Cold Stream Inn to clean for me. For Christmas, Jack had given me two 3-hour gift certificates from a local cleaning company. I was so happy, so excited, and very grateful. I had this lovely woman do the things I dont get to very often but needs doing. I worked around her, watching as she wielded that vacuum as her tool, getting down on her knees with a dust cloth, bending over, reaching up and moving along like a pro with her cleaning products. I wanted to applaud her and instead I offered her coffee.
Cleaning up our own messes is hard enough, but cleaning up other peoples messes truly is an act of humble service even if you’re paid well. I have more respect for people who do the kinds of jobs that makes life easier for people who have what the world tells us are the “important” jobs, than I can even say.
This morning at Cold Stream Inn I was gifted. First off, I was able to catch a glimpse of a young me in her. I was taken back to a time when I was her. I also had young kids in school, a hard-working husband doing his level best to take care of us all, and I too only wanted to do a good job, make an honest days pay and leave the house where I was cleaning a welcoming place for its owners to come back to at the end of their own long work day. This morning I was able to see a dedicated gal go about her business to make my own home look so much better. As she shined the cabinets and cleaned the dusty windowsills that had cat paw prints all over them from a nosy feline, as she scrubbed floors and vacuumed rugs she never walked on, I was just so thankful to her. My home was being wiped clean by a woman who didnt make this mess. I realized, with real humility, just how much that Jack had gifted me with this womans’ services. Yes, today I was definitely gifted.
Thank you Jack. And thank you, Jessie.