“Thank you so much,” I said tearfully, as I handed Maria a tip. By the big emotions flowing through my body, you would have thought that I had known her for years. That wasn’t the case. No, Maria was the housekeeper assigned to my TLA for the 15 days we spent waiting for our on base home.
It wasn’t a spectacular hotel room by any stretch. The furniture was worn, the kitchen stove wasn’t the best, and the carpeting could have absolutely used an update. But it was always clean. Maybe not tidy, as I was staying there with 4 kids living out of suitcases, but at it’s base, it was clean.
And even more notable, it was not me shouldering the load of keeping it that way.
We all know PCSing with kids isn’t the easiest thing to do. The weeks leading up to the move are filled with packing and cleaning the home you’re leaving behind. Then there’s the day of the actual move- trying to keep everyone moving along and organized and fed and safe. We were moving overseas so there was certainly more hubbub than usual, but by the time we landed at our new duty station, I couldn’t take on anymore.
When Maria first dropped by our room, I’m sure she must have said a silent prayer because it was a hot mess inside.
4 jet-lagged kids, unsure of where home was and leaving things left and right. Crates of crafts to keep busy and new beach toys and hidden gifts for the quickly approaching Christmas season. And so many suitcases of clothes, shoes, and swimsuits. When we unloaded the two cars it took to get all of our things from the airport to the hotel, there was no energy left to organize as we settled in. So it all sat, heaped on the floor of the living area as we tried to get enough sleep to function again.
I remember telling her, “We just need the trash taken out every day. I’ll take care of everything else” as I scooted everyone out the door to the park for some sunshine to help reset our internal clocks to our new timezone. I was embarrassed by how quickly we had turned the bathroom into an actual swamp and didn’t want her to waste any time trying to right our sinking ship.
By the time we returned an hour later, the trash was out and everything had been swept, wiped down, and picked up just a bit. It was like magic.
“I TOLD HER JUST TO TAKE OUT THE TRASH,” I told my husband as I realized she had done way more than cart away our already-overflowing-after-only-14-hours waste basket. He just shrugged.
The next morning, it was drizzling. My husband was out with the car, leaving the kids and I to hang out in the room for a few hours. When Maria knocked on the door, I told her again to just come in and take the trash. We chatted as she knotted the completely full bag. She was a grandmother and knew how busy raising kids could be. She started telling me how she ended up in Hawaii eleven years earlier and what she had done for work before coming to live closer to her adult children. Before I realized what was happening, we were talking as she scrubbed the kitchen sink and did a quick sweep and mop of the common areas.
As a stay at home mom, the bulk of cleaning the home falls on me. Maybe it shouldn’t, but in my home, it does. Sometimes, I get it all done; other times, things fall by the wayside. Things had been significantly less clean that I was normally comfortable with (especially during the move), but I simply didn’t have the time or energy to address it.
But there, in that hotel room, I suddenly had help.
Why is it so hard to accept help?
I know that it is the job that a housekeeper is hired to do, but I don’t think I could have possibly realized what a relief that was when I needed it. We had to live in a hotel, and there was no getting around that.
But I didn’t have to clean the tub and toilets. I could just focus on getting the kids adjusted to their new surroundings.
I didn’t have to sweep and mop the large amounts of sand we dragged in each day despite our best efforts to dust off outside. Instead I could rest for a few minutes once I got the twins to nap.
It wasn’t comfortable to be without our things and in a small space, but I was able to spend my evenings sitting and watching a show for the first time in a long time.
One of our last mornings at the TLA, we were headed to Costco as Maria came in for her daily clean of our room. My older two kids were halfway down the hotel hallway, headed for the car, and I was carrying one two-year-old while her twin circled through my legs as I tried to walk and carry everything we needed. I apologized (as I did every day) for the mess. She looked me right in the eye and said, “You have a big job. You are busy and you need help. Let me help you here.”
My housekeeper saw me like I hadn’t expected to be seen.
Eventually it was time to move into our home, and we were all more than ready to have our own space again. But it was hard to say goodbye to the extra pair of hands that so quietly lightened my load each day.
This is all so true! It IS hard to accept help. She was an angel at the right time for your family. I love that she saw that your job is big. There may be no bigger job.
Thanks for sharing!
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