I have a love affair going on with the vacuum. It began innocently enough – these things always do. It happened after I was married, after the honeymoon phase, when the cares of responsibility were great. When my husband was busy at extra-help sessions and I was the lone force holding down the dormitory, molding twelve teenage boys into men. I’m sure that’s how they see it.
While they knocked on the door to ask for parietal visitations (a girl visitor), a note signed, or to use my microwave, I was upstairs putting my wee ones to bed.
“Yes!” I’d yell down the stairs in response to the use of the microwave.
“No!” I’d yell down the stairs in response to “can I watch t.v. during study hall?”
Those were the days.
After bedtime I would crawl downstairs, dead-tired, and go check in all the boys, track down the missing ones, then come back into our faculty apartment.
And that’s when falling apart could well happen. She could come undone.
Our carpet was a dark teal. It showed every crumb, speck, sand granule. I have a clear image of dried play-doh all over the carpet. It was red. Toys, books, dried spaghetti. I would inwardly beg for the millioneth time, for housekeeping to drop by and work their magic on my filthy carpet.
Then Daddy would come through the door and life looked a wee bit better. He never said, “What did you do all day – can’t you clean the house?” Without many words we would start to clean the downstairs. It was a nightly ritual I began to enjoy.
Because at the end, the vacuum was pulled out of the closet. I always wanted to get to the vacuum first – I would actually rush to find it. With the flip of the switch it began to transform my life. With a brush stroke across the dark teal, the dirt and crumbs and occasional toy would be instantly gone. Life was CLEAN again. And yes, the tired mother had accomplished a great task! Order was restored, we could begin again. Tomorrow was another day and as God as my witness, I would never be dirty again!
Until the next day when the hurricanes would whirl their way downstairs and fling their spaghetti and drop muffin crumbs for the invisible birds. I learned quickly NOT to vacuum wet rice. No, it was much more effective to wait until it was dry. No, the vacuum would come later, and all would be well in the world.
So you see, it was an appliance that was hard to compete with. The mixer might make me chocolate-chip cookies, but the vacuum has transformative powers that outweigh even chocolate. And that’s saying a lot.
This love affair continues today. I do not sweep. Unless it’s an emergency, we’re having company, or dear vacuum is in the shop. I take it there frequently, for tune-ups and so forth, to show reciprocal love.
Most (all?) household chores I find tedious, but not vacuuming.
Sometimes, in my zeal to feel good again, I vacuum too quickly
And there is SO.MUCH.STUFF. Microscopic Squinkies (if you don’t know what those are you’re really missing out); Polly Pocket shoes, dresses, and swimsuits. Popped balloons, earrings, small scraps of paper, shoelaces, rubber bands, hair balls…
The children know: If it’s on the ground, it’s fair game. I will go after it. Little is spared. Socks, necklaces, cereal, erasers, hair ties, candy, doggie, small toes? Tough cookies. Mom!!!! What? I ask. Move your feet!
In my zealousness this week, I vacuumed up Cope’s memory stick.
And I had a choice. To tell or not to tell? An inner debate ensued. She had left the memory stick out. However, she had left it out on the end table. It was a little bit a stretch for tough cookies. Hmmm. How much did she need that 68-page story she was writing?
I went digging.
And believe me, opening a vacuum bag in this house is not only enlightening, but disgusting.
One would think husband would be jealous of such affection. Strangely, this love affair is approved of, even encouraged. Go on, he says, get your vacuum love goin’ on. And so, with happy skipping steps, I look forward to my daily vacuum validation. Love is very splendid thing.