The Help

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Do you know what my favorite part of “Sense and Sensibility” is? It’s when the sweet and demure Dashwood sisters are on the brink of utter poverty, frighteningly too close from being cast out from all “good society” and have to announce regretfully, that they will only be able to keep on two servants. Two. Servants. Two servants. Yes, it is a dark day indeed when one has to make do with only two full-time, live-in servants. A dark day indeed.

Of course, I’m being facetious. I’m aware that back then there were no modern appliances to ease the burdens of housework and that the words “work” and “gentlemen” were never to be intertwined. But I can’t help but use Jane Austen’s classic tale of riches to rags to riches again when I plead my case to Paul for what we now modernly call “hired help.”

Some have told me that what I need right now is “a mother’s helper.” You know, some darling teenage girl with puzzles and play dough in her canvas tote to come to the house and entertain the kiddos while I “get things done” around the house. I have a friend who tried this route. In the moment she saw her offspring giggling and learning at the knees of one paid teenager juxtaposed to herself scrubbing down the toilets…well, she thought, “What have I done?! I want to be the one giggling and learning with my children and I want someone else to scrub the toilets! What just happened?” Unfortunately, darling teenage girls don’t pass out flyers that read “toilet scrubbers for hire” around the neighborhood.

Then there is the belief that hired, toilet scrubbing help with only fuel sentiments of “entitlement” among the children. They will not learn to work if the work is done for them. To that I answer, fine! Don’t do their work! Don’t clean up their rooms. Don’t do their homework, practice their piano, or do the dishes on their night. But can they help with my load? All that stuff I don’t get to because I’m either feeding the baby, or feeding the baby?

The baseboards, the blinds, inside and under the refrigerator, and black furniture that seems to grow dust of its own! Someone to keep the laundry and dishes going and make beautiful vacuum lines on the carpet! (In the interest of full disclosure, the real reason I haven’t mopped the kitchen in weeks is because Dean spills so many cups of water a day that get wiped up, it feels unnecessary.) But there aren’t enough hours in the day!

What about the hour I so indulgently take to write this here blog, you ask? Touche. But then where’s the fun of being in a messy jam or pickle if you don’t get to write about it?

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