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What's So Dandy About Cleaning?

Ten years ago, a dream was paced in my heart to return to school for business so I could learn how to develop an organization that would help meet the needs of the most vulnerable. I had a heartstring dedicated to serving single mamas and their children, and I was currently doing everything I could to help support the ones that I knew in my own life. As a married woman with four young children under wing, my service to others often looked like providing childcare alongside my own children. This showed up in my life as opening my home to others, sometimes even during odd hours of the day and night. I was happy to help, knowing that my home was a safe place for struggling mamas to leave their children while they worked hard at a job or at pursuing a continuing education. Little did I know just what my own education would entail to get me to the place of service where I desired to be.

Two years into my return to school, I found myself facing extenuating circumstances. With a full educational work load, running a part time photography business, and homeschooling one of my children; my dreams where abruptly placed on hold when it became clear that staying married was no longer a healthy option for me. It was a startling reality check for me to realize I was becoming one of the people that I hoped to serve more fully with my educational efforts. Formal education was teaching me one way, and I was also becoming fully submerged into a different educational system of firsthand knowledge that shook me to my core.

I will never be able to forget the day that I realized that my marriage was going to end in a divorce. While the details are private, I can say that it was agonizing to know that something I had fought so hard for was crashing down, and that I was standing right in the midst of destruction. Like in near death situations, I watched 12 years of my life replay themselves as the trials I had faced through my marriage came flooding back into my memory. I didn't know it at the time but this was the first of many episodes of PTSD that I would face in my life.

Divorce is not for the weak. Neither is staying in a crumbling marriage. For me, it was time to exchange one hardship for another. The stress of the memories flooding back and resurfacing proved too much for my mind to endure. Unable to cope with the trauma, my mental health floundered in the months that followed. At the peak of my struggles, I ended up in the hospital for a stay that lasted two and a half weeks. Going home was only an option because my insurance benefits ran out. Recovery would be a long way off.

My recovery was encouraged through an outpatient program which sought to educate and manage medication needs. For the first time in my life I was on doctor prescribed medication and becoming aware that my personal needs had been neglected for far too long. There was a steep learning curve as I tried to balance relearning how to care for myself in a healthy way, with the responsibilities already demanding my time and attention. Success didn't just happen overnight, nevertheless, I pushed on and graduated with a bachelors degree in management and ethics two years after my divorce was finalized.

With my newly divorced and freshly graduated status, came a new challenge in my life. It was time for this stay-at-home-mom-of-twelve-years to reenter the workforce. A friend of mine connected me with an organization hiring for a close to full time position. I pulled together a resume, wrote my first ever cover page, submitted them both and waited. Shortly after, I was contacted for an interview, showed up and was offered the job.

The opportunity was exciting but also jarring. I asked for some time to think about accepting the position and after reflecting on what I thought would be best for me and my family, I turned the job offer down. I simply wasn't ready to lose my time at home with my children so suddenly. I was also still learning how to manage my mental health needs and struggling with bouts of depression. As flexible as the offer was, I couldn't accept the time commitment that came along with it. It would have been more than just picking up a new job. It would have been a complete restructuring of the life I was accustomed to living. I simply was not ready for that big of a leap.

Around that same time, a close friend of mine posted on Facebook that they were looking for a new housecleaner. Without thinking, I reached out to my friend and told her that I used to clean houses and would love to fill in as a temp worker at least, to see if it was something that would work out for me long term. My gracious friend talked it over with her husband and eagerly told me that they would like for me to have the job. That was the start of something big in my life.

Months after I started cleaning my friend's house, she offered to post a recommendation to a neighborhood group for me as a house cleaner. My work schedule kept growing, client by client. Each house stretched my abilities to work and challenged my skills in building an organization that served the community and also helped to meet my own financial needs.

There was a time when I was told that cleaning homes wasn't a real job and I was encouraged even by family members to take a different career direction for myself. It has now been five years since I started cleaning for my friend. There is so much joy in knowing the value of what I do for the families that hire me to share in their own responsibilities of providing healthy and happy homes for their family. I have reached a point with Dandy Green Clean where I am turning work away all the time, and I have had numerous other single mom friends ebb and flow in and out of my business as cleaning partners and occasional helpers. Just last year, I was able to buy my first home, and later a much needed new vehicle.

Now, as I write this, I am looking forward to this summer and the plans I am making with one of my cleaning partners. She is taking a step back from pursuing her dreams as a school teacher so she can have evenings free to focus on her family at home instead of doing the take home work required of teachers. One dream is being held loosely and she is latching onto an even greater dream of being able to be present for her family. There are no words to tell you how much joy this gives me to help provide the structure she needs to take off on her own.

So, what's so dandy about cleaning? Kind of a lot and this is just the beginning.


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