How does your Fairy Godmother look?

My imaginative first grader was home sick from school yesterday, so she happened to meet a special someone for the first time: Irena, who cleans for us every 4 weeks. My daughter was taken with her. Irena has wispy gray-blonde hair that she wears in a high bun; rosy cheeks and a generously-shared bright smile; enthusiastic nods and giggles with which she communicates her warmth to my children, since she speaks no English; and she’s so dignified that she makes scrubbing floors look special. “Mom, she’s the Fairy Godmother, for real.” And my two daughters started a several-hours-long game of fairies in response to Irena’s presence with us. I don’t think Irena knew she was the protagonist.

As it turns out, Irena looks a lot like a fairy godmother to me too. Bippity boppity boo. A little fairy dust (or a whole lot of elbow grease) and my house sparkles. What a blessing.

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  • Bethany “B-mama”

    My fairy godmother and godfather were here working magic yesterday too. I don’t know what I’d do without them… In these final weeks of pregnancy, they are a literal godsend. I am so grateful to be able to have them!

  • texasmommy

    I have days where I am literally overflowing with gratitude for my washing machine. (Um, especially in during the current muddy season with boys who apply it liberally to skin and clothes alike) Yes, it is an inanimate object, but it works all the time, never whines, cleans diapers and sheets and makes my life so much easier! So I suppose my fairy godmother looks like an 8 years old hunk of metal that has never failed me!

  • Bethany “B-mama”

    Oooh, good one, Tex. Now I need to invent a machine that folds too. Haven’t gotten around to teaching the kids yet, but I’m imagining all the wonder good, little folding people can bring!!

  • I love how you describe your family’s interaction with Irena, JM!

    Over spring break, our fairy godmother(s) were my in-laws, who played endless games of restaurant, store, parcheesi, and Candy Land, took the kids on bike rides and to roller skating rinks, and gave us a much-needed break from every-day life. I hope that I remember how important these visits are when I am a grandmother myself!

  • Ann

    I know you will. 🙂

  • awolmommy


    WHere do you go when Irena comes? Do you feel pressured to get out of the house, and if so, where do you take everyone and for how long. I have always been anti-cleaning help because I heard that Ghandi’s wife had to clean latrines at their compound despite her objections, but my resolve is failing me. Now my concerns are more logistical than moral. Wouldn’t we be underfoot?

  • maryalice

    We sometimes have to move from room to room, but often we take that day to do errands out of the house. In that way, the day is a double accomplishment — I can fill the car with gas, go to the milk market, post office, etc, and come home to a clean house!

    As far as the need for this sort of help, I think that you have to pick the sort of help that helps you the most. For example, if you put a high priority on breastfeeding, that takes a lot of time, but also saves a lot of money. If you mostly cook from scratch and don’t eat out much, the same is true. I have friends who “can’t afford” a cleaning lady but sit down to dinner at Applebees once a week or so. I’d rather cook and eat at home and spend my money on cleaning help. I also have had friends who have their husbands take the kids to do errands or a playground every other saturday while they put on music and clean, clean, clean. They love to do it, do it well, and maybe with the money saved you have a family meal out or pizza to give mom a break that night.

  • Juris Mater

    So true, Katrina. Grandparents work amazing magic!

  • Juris Mater

    AWOL, we’re able to be outside or in a different part of the house so that we’re not underfoot. A cleaning service (team of people) can get the job done faster–I think Red’s crew is finished in around an hour–and that way you only have to be scarce for a short period of time. Irena is here for 4ish hours, but the advantage of one person is that she’s only in one place so the rest of the house is pretty free.

    Also, morally, from what I know, I prefer a cleaning lady or married couple (Irena sometimes brings her husband–although men just don’t clean as well!!). The cleaning services in our area here hire poor, single moms, charge you loads per hour ($50) but pay their workers minimum or below minimum wage ($7) and treat them badly, you never establish a relationship with the people who are cleaning and their work is mediocre at best. I like the personal element of one cleaning person. We are new at this, we have only had cleaning help in 2012, but I’ve tried three different options and what a blessing to find excellent, reliable help at a fair price.