Earlier this week I fired my cleaning lady.
I did a happy dance as I had been working up to this for three years and finally, finally I had found the resolve to do it.
She’d been with us for fourteen years.
Originally she cleaned our house along with another woman but as time went on, took over the job on her own.
To start with things went fine but as our boys grew and our needs changed, problems started to arise.
I couldn’t communicate with her. She spoke no English; I spoke no Spanish. I gesticulated, she nodded.
Nuh-uh. No dice.
I went on Google translator but it seemed she couldn’t read either as she ignored my written instructions.
And so our relationship couldn’t evolve. She continued to do exactly the same work, in exactly the same order.
This was irritating to me as I would have liked some extra work done or changes made or even some respect for a sick child trying to sleep but I simply couldn’t find a way to communicate.
Even asking her to call an English-speaking friend seemed beyond me.
The catalyst for our parting of ways came when my son built a card replica of the Ottoman Empire in the front room. He put hours into building this model. It was elaborate, it was extensive. It needed to be vacuumed around.
We did our best; we put up signs, I gesticulated and pointed. She nodded and said “OK.”
I left. Big mistake.
Should have stood guard.
Because when I came back, she had achieved what took armies of men and massive governmental mismanagement in the 17th century; the Empire had been pushed to one side.
In its place were just carpet stripes where the vacuum had been.
This happened numerous times.
My son took to locking his bedroom door to protect his creations and as time went on, my appreciation for her sterling work got buried under my irritation and what I took for disrespect towards my son and his things.
It was clear something had to be done. But I felt the only thing I could do was to fire her or learn Spanish.
I wasn’t prepared to do the latter. I could get any number of English-speaking house cleaners with just a phone call.
But I felt bad.
She had a small child as well as teenagers, I doubt she is overloaded with work in this economy especially without an English-speaking partner. I had trouble disconnecting.
Nevertheless as I thrashed around these thoughts, it became apparent to me I have these kinds of problems with all the relationships that don’t serve me. I simply find it horrendous to let them go.
I get consumed with guilt, project feelings onto the other person and then take them on for myself. I realized that dealing with the ending of outdated relationships comprise some of biggest life challenges I face and that I have to deal with them to get powerful.
I needed to be a warrior.
In the end, it was easy. She seemed to understand she was being fired well enough. I felt sad, as she had been with us a long time including when my sons came home from the hospital.
But I also felt release, lighter.
I have no plans either to replace her or do the cleaning myself. I have done nothing. But I know that sometimes we have to clean out the old even before we know what the new will be.
And while that not knowing isn’t always satisfying to the people around us and can be frightening for ourselves often enough, ultimately, it is the only way forward.
If we just trust that the vacuum will be filled, it will be. Literally 😉
Have you struggled to fire a person you hire to help? Or hung on to relationships that no longer serve you? How do you end them? Let me know in the comments!
If you appreciated this article, please do me a favor and share on Facebook or Twitter. There are buttons at the top and bottom of this article.
And also why not ‘like’ the TSLWW Facebook Fan page? You can find the box in the sidebar. Thank you!