When Your Housekeeper Wears the Pants in the Family. Literally.
I've had some strange housekeeper incidents over my ten years of keeping a home. I've had one ask to take a nap on her first day, another bleach-stain our clothes multiple times until I hid the Clorox, and yet another who would not leave our home when her eight-hour shift was over, only to stay an extra hour or two per day because she knew we'd pay her for it.
In hindsight, I can see where I went wrong as a household employer. I was overly accommodating. I let a million little things slide and didn't speak up until it was too late and they'd long since lost respect for me. Each time I saw their work slipping and my list of grievances growing, and I'd nervously try to leave them a super sweet note explaining what I wanted, often to be met with them telling me "I already did that, I always do that", etc., etc.
I was so grateful to have someone I felt I could trust with my babies if I needed to attend a meeting, catch a workout, or maybe even run to the grocery store all. by. myself.
When little things happened, it was never the "right time" for us to lose our help. So my husband and I chose to dismiss things like finding our old iPad had been charged up and used, with the housekeeper's Gmail login and camping trip in our internet history.
We were way too accommodating and afraid to be the "bosses" of our own home.
Nothing can compare, however, to what happened with our most recent housekeeper.
I came home from all of my morning school drop-offs and a grocery store run with Baby Shepherd. While my housekeeper was reaching up to grab something, I noticed a very distinct pattern on the waistband of her yoga pants. The waistband was neon yellow and black and identical to my own pair that I'd bought a few years back through my online subscription for monthly workout clothes.
I immediately felt a pit in my stomach. I ran upstairs with the baby and locked the door to my bedroom. I took a moment to process, told myself they weren't my pants, changed the baby's diaper and went to check my drawers.
"They're going to be in here," I thought to myself.
I pulled the drawer open. They were gone.
Oh. My. GD.
I looked back through my emails, Fabletics, Fabletics, Fabletics...there it was. I ordered those pants in 2015 and you could only buy them online at the time. She'd been working for us for a year and it's late 2017. The pants were sold out. Mine were missing. All roads lead to...she stole my pants. And wore them back to work at my house.
I racked my brain for the best way to handle it. She was in my home, interacting with my kids for a year. She knew every facet of my house, had washed all of my clothes, knew what I wore and didn't. Where the cameras were and where they weren't.
I thought about telling her we lost our shirts in a bad Vegan Raw Baby Food investment and couldn't afford her anymore.
But you know what? This wasn't on me. This was on her.
So, at the end of her eight hour day, when she told me she hadn't had time to unload our very full dishwasher or put away any of the days' laundry, I said, "That's fine. I'm going to walk you out".
I told her I was uncomfortable because I was missing a pair of pants. The same pants she had on her body. (And by the way, they were the foldover waist-kind and she had them unrolled up her back, with a sheer strip in the middle of her top showing the whole thing).
I told her I would be needing my key back.
I'm not going to lie: it was awkward. But the peace I have in knowing she won't be coming back to my home again is enough for me, and I won't dive into what else could be missing or what else she's snooped through. It doesn't matter. My family is safe, I continue to build that backbone I worked so hard to get back, and I've realized a few important things:
1) I can totally handle this. Yes, it was awkward. But I did it myself. Not my husband, not my mother in law's housekeeper (yes, I had her fire the one who took a nap). The Yoga-Pants-Klepto had crossed a final boundary with me and I handled it like Beyonce.
2) I will always put my family and myself first. I walked her out myself. Asked for our key back myself. I didn't over pay her like I have done in the past. I gave her what I was comfortable with. She stole my pants and GD knows what else. This is about me and my family. Not her.
3) I also stopped myself from over thinking it -- you know, like "What about her family, her husband, etc.". I have to balance that out. What about me and my family? We were paying real money for her to do a real job. She wasn't doing a good job, leaving me more work to do, and felt entitled to our "things" that we would have handed over to her willingly, had she just asked.
4) People can be weird. No one is perfect. But I don't need to put up with anything I'm uncomfortable with from the beginning. I can be kind and still be a #BOSS.
5) My dear friend made an astute point: It doesn't even matter whether they were my pants or her pants. She'd done enough to make me mistrust her, and all that mattered was how that made me feel. It didn't feel right to me and that's all the validation I need.
With a day or two to let this all sink in, a story she'd told me surfaced to the front of my mind.
As I bumbled around last year as a new mother to an infant, toddler, and kindergartener, she told me story after story when I really just needed a hot tea and a nap. As I carried my baby around the kitchen grabbing this and that, she gabbed to me that her sisters-in-law were so jealous of her when she first got married that they would steal her clothes. And one day, she put markings in her clothes and when one of her sisters-in-law wore it in front of her, she called her out on it and had proof. If this is some kind of f'd up psychological thingamajig, I don't want to know. Hopefully I'm wrong; but I do know that either way, it was the right decision to let her go.
I'm moving on and staying truer and truer to my intuition because it was right from the beginning. I just needed to be strong enough to listen and to realize that if I'm creative about it, I can get the coverage I need for my housekeeping needs and childcare with the people I really trust and feel good about, even if they aren't full-time employees in my home.
Thank you so much to my friends who have recommended their trusted and true housekeepers and babysitters! I don't plan to hire anyone new for a long time. I have an amazing cleaning crew who used to come just to deep clean, and they're going to come more frequently for me, and I have two regular babysitters who we love. That's all I need right now. I so appreciate all of your kind words and support but I can't bring myself to introduce anyone new at this time. <3
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