I love a clean house.

I don’t necessarily love cleaning my house. It’s a lot of work and it can feel overwhelming when you have young kids underfoot who undo your hours of effort in 10 minutes.

But I do love shining floors and grease-free counters and sinks without toothpaste globs and – best of all – carpets with vacuum lines.

So I clean. For the past several years, my routine is to clean the house on Mondays. I don’t schedule any outside-of-the-home activities that day, which is a Sabbath in itself, and I focus on putting the house back in order. It makes my chart-loving, list-making melancholic heart sigh with satisfaction when I know that I have one day each week when my house will truly sparkle. (Having a scheduled day also helps keep that same melancholic in check, because I don’t allow myself to freak out when I see crumbs under the table and spots on the bathroom mirrors. “Oh well, I’ll get to it Monday,” is the mantra I use to keep a good habit from becoming an addiction.)

As you might imagine, this schedule works well until one morphs into a Heffalump. Then, vacuuming gets hard. Heck, walking across the kitchen gets hard. My husband, bless his heart, sensed my frustration. Last month, he started vacuuming for me on the weekends and generally attending to whatever tasks I knew I couldn’t complete in my current handicapped state.

But he’s already got a job – one that pays and everything. And he travels for work. I know he’d rather spend his precious free time playing with the kids or going for a run in the sunshine instead of vacuuming dog hair off the countless stairs of our home.

Enter stage right: the cleaning service. A few weeks ago, Corey and I discussed the idea of me hiring a cleaning service to deal with the house for the remainder of the pregnancy – and maybe for the first few weeks after the baby is born. Corey was fine with the cost. It’s a splurge, but our intent is that this will be a short-term luxury. Thus, I began the search. And last Thursday, a cleaning crew made its first appearance in our humble abode.

Here’s where you'd probably expect me to insert a thousand hallelujahs in a big, bright, bouncing font. And I’m thankful. Truly, I am.

But here’s the deal: They didn’t clean the house like me. They didn’t do as good of a job as I would have done. And so, I was disappointed.

I knew it was unrealistic to expect strangers to know they should empty the diaper genie and refill the Q-tip containers in the bathrooms and top off the flour and sugar canisters in the kitchen so they would look purty for a few hours.

But I couldn’t help it. I was disappointed and frustrated that I’d paid money for a job that was only half done, according to my standards.

I voiced my frustrations to Corey on the phone that night. (He was out of town, naturally.) And somewhere in the midst of my complaining about the half-filled Q-tip containers, I heard a voice in my head. It said: Control freak.

“CONTROL FREAK?!? Excuse me? I just want a clean home,” I argued with the voice. “Why should I pay money for someone to come into my house and make a few swipes with a dust cloth? I mean, if they aren’t going to do the job right, fine. I’ll just do it myself.”

At that point, Corey patiently interjected. (Poor man. Imagine having to interrupt a conversation between your wife and your wife.) “They might not do a perfect job, Kelly, but the whole point of hiring them is you can't vacuum or mop or dust or wipe down the fridge AT ALL right now, much less perfectly. Isn’t having some help better than no help at all?”

Humph. Maybe. Yes. No. I don’t know.

It’s easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than it is for a control freak to admit she might have control issues.

“It’s not ME! It’s EVERYONE ELSE!”

I took Corey’s wise words and my mental anguish to bed that night. And I thought. And pondered. And even prayed.

And I think that voice in my head – the one that called me a control freak – might have been the Holy Spirit calling me out. He knows better than anyone that I hate, despise, abhor asking for help. I’m happy to give it. I don’t know how to receive it.

Today, the cleaning crew returned. They’ll show up every Thursday until the Lord returns or this baby arrives, whichever comes first. This week, I had them use my vacuum – a Dyson Animal – so the carpet sported vacuum lines. I made sure I emptied the diaper genie into the garbage before they arrived. And later this afternoon, I’ll go back through the house and return the pillows to the correct side of the couch and rearrange the knick-knacks to their rightful place and – yes – refill the Q-tip containers.

And I will do it with a humble heart. A grateful heart.

It’s healthy for a control freak to hand over the reigns every once in a while. It’s a good reminder that the world won’t come to an end if I’m not in charge. I am not God.

My house is clean enough. And that's enough for me.

(Also? I just noticed the end of the toilet paper is folded into those cute little triangles. That makes up for the Q-tips.)


  1. WOW! Great post! I could have written this. Thanks for the reminder that I am not in control! From One Control Freak to Another! :)

  2. I am equally fussy about how I clean. Even when I couldn't get to it, I only want it done MY WAY.
    But I knew, from my mom's sound advice after years of control freaking that it wouldn't be my clean, but it would be clean enough when I hired a cleaning lady.
    I asked her to change just a couple things and am now just so glad not to have to do it all I've let it go.
    So....I feel your pain, but there is hope for us all. :)
    (and really, how nice is it not to have to do it all????)

  3. From one control freak to another, do I get it. If I paid money for household help, I'd get a laundry girl. Seems there aren't as many variables with that as there are with house cleaning.

    I don't know that I've mentioned it lately, but you are awesome.

  4. as a newlywed whose husband moved into my house [formerly occupied only by me!], i battle giving up control everyday. & that holy spirit is so good at finding ways to point it out to us, isn't he?

    love reading your posts. thank you for sharing.

  5. Gee, if your complaints are about a not full Qtip jar, flour and sugar, then I'd say they did a really great job!! That's my first thought. If you want them to do those things, I think you can write them a little note asking them to do them. Can't hurt to try.

  6. I'm glad to hear you aren't trying to do it all, particularly while the man is away and you have 3 kids to parent and a baby to carry (past 35 weeks if at all possible!).

    I say all that as someone who just cleaned the whole (blankety blank) house yesterday in prep for marketing pictures. I'm not even pregnant, but Lord have mercy....I am actually SORE today. And also? I tried not to inhale, but I think I still got a second-hand high on murphy's oil soap. :-)

  7. I've been cleaning and organizing and everything like a madwoman before my upcoming surgery. I just realized today it might be a control issue.
    It's hard to accept help. Especially if it isn't done MY way.

  8. I am NOT a control freak when it comes to cleaning. On any given day if you stopped by my house, you might self-destruct.

    But, there are most certainly other areas of my life where I cannot let go of the reigns, and so yes, I can completely understand this.

    I do, however, enjoy a good vacuum line.

  9. This made me giggle because you sound like my mom! ;)

    I have had house help since we moved overseas (6 months ago) and I AM SO GRATEFUL! Between having two under three, being pregnant, and learning a new language-- I could never keep my house in order without help, it is such a blessing!

  10. I needed to read this post! I am in a totally different stage of pregnancy than you, but I will admit that my kitchen floor hasn't been mopped in two months and my bathrooms haven't been cleaned in a month. My husband said to call and get estimates to have someone come and help a few times. But I'm such a control freak (and really, really tired) that it took me days to call. She's coming today for an estimate, and I'm having trouble leaving things as they are and not picking up before she comes. Ugh! I am going to have to let go and enjoy the help I get. It will have to be enough. And I'm going to see what she does with the toilet paper. That made me laugh out loud!

  11. I am not a control freak and I do not like cleaning, so a cleaning service would be a huge treat for me. Instead, we just make do with what I can/will get done with the help of the kids and ignore the rest.

  12. We have housekeepers too. We can't afford it. But my husband says it would be much more costly for us to lose our every loving minds so we make it work.

    They come every Thursday and just like Jesus, they wipe away our sins.

  13. Clean control freak = me.

    Except not this week. This is oogle-over-baby-and-make-sure-his-tummy's-full-week. Or month. Or year, who knows?

    The only thing I am keeping up with is laundry. And that's just cause there's either yellow poop or boob-leakage on most articles of clothing and I am just not *that* crunchy.

    And, I've found that if I wear slippers and don't open the drapes in the morning I don't notice the crumbs and dust on the floor as much. *As* being the key word here.

    Enjoy your cleaning service! Heck, I get annoyed when hubby doesn't do nurse's corners when he makes our bed! And yet I know it just gets messed up by the next morning.

    Yep, this baby is gonna break me all right!!