Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Deeper Things of Life and Carpet

Disclaimer:  No children were harmed in the writing of this post. As for the husband ...

After reading my last post, I want to assure you that no one had to eat peanut butter and jelly with a straw last week. When I arrived home, most all of the bacon grease had been thoroughly cleaned and my kitchen looked wonderful. Of course, last night my kitchen looked like the aftermath of an explosion, but Thursday night it looked good.

And therein lies the stumbling block to my Christmas wish. I want a clean house for Christmas. I'm not sure that's possible unless we spend Christmas Eve scrubbing, and then Christmas Day not moving. I'm perfectly fine with that, but the rest of the family seems to feel that plan lacks a little in celebrating style. So I've had to compromise a bit. But I think I've come up with a philosophy that helps me achieve my goals. I've summed up this philosophy in a very common phrase.

It's the thought that counts.

Shortly before Thanksgiving, a friend and I were discussing the work I had planned out in order to finish my fall cleaning before the holidays. She commented on how many days were left before Christmas and I agreed that I didn't have much time.

"That's not the point," she argued. "You're never going to be able to keep everything clean all the way up until Christmas. Not with that many boys in the house. It's impossible."

That was true. And it would be discouraging to a lesser individual. But I was quick to point out the one thing that would save me.

My standards of clean are lower than hers.

They have to be. I've finally gotten to the point that, if I've made the effort to clean, then I have to be satisfied with that. In my heart I know it was recently clean. Therefore, at the very least, it's cleaner than it was. So at least whatever dirt that has accumulated is newer dirt. And that has to count for something, right?

I apply that principle to most of my cleaning (as anyone whose been in my house can see) with the exception of the carpet. A couple of times a year I rent one of these and clean my carpets. And believe me, I do a thorough job. To me, clean carpets and upholstery are the final sign that things are deeply clean. I love seeing a broad expanse of carpet free of stains and tracked in dirt, and I really enjoy smelling the freshness of all that cleanliness. For the next month, I notice the clean softness of the carpet every time I walk across it.

If I'm enjoying the clean sensation of carpets for a month, that will last me through Christmas, surely.

So after tackling all my baseboards and air vents this fall, I spent the two days after Thanksgiving cleaning my carpets. I cleaned and re-cleaned. I pretreated. I used the hand tool along the edges. I had the boys bringing me buckets of water and moving furniture out of my way as I went along, determined to clean my carpets better than I ever had before. My husband offered to help, and I let him do part of the family room, but he didn't overlap his rows as much, and he went faster than I wanted him to so I did the rest of our over 3,000 square foot home myself.

Late in the afternoon of the second day, I was finishing up the last of the two bedrooms upstairs. My back ached and I was exhausted, but my carpets looked wonderful. I flipped the machine off and called for more water to finish the last little bit, but no answered. They couldn't hear me because they were running the vacuum downstairs. Indiana had found an incredible Black Friday deal on a Dyson for the church, and he decided to try it out.

I was more than a little aggravated. I had just cleaned all those carpets last night. What was there to vacuum? I found out a short time later when one of the boys ran upstairs to show me the canister.

It was over half full.

My first thought was that he must have been vacuuming outside. There was no way there could still be dirt in my carpets. Especially not that much dirt. I was briefly consoled when they told me it came from the family room.

Well of course. Wasn't that where Indiana had worked the carpet cleaner? Hadn't I told him he needed to go slower? I was vindicated.

At least, I was until they showed me the dirt they vacuumed from the living room. And the hallway. And my bedroom ...

I went downstairs and stared at the carpets that had looked so clean half an hour ago. They looked dingy.  They felt soft the night before, but now they seemed brittle and stiff when I walked on them. My guys took my month of carpet cleanliness enjoyment and sucked it out in less than thirty minutes.

For one wild moment I was tempted to haul the shampooer downstairs and start all over again. But I was out of time, out of weekend and out of cleaner. So I reminded myself that there was less dirt in the carpets than there had been before, and that it was the thought that counts.

I've said it before and I need to face the truth again. I'm no June Cleaver. I need to accept that.

But I'm still tempted to clean the carpets again after the holidays. Maybe if I wear pearls and heels this time ...


  1. That's exactly why I don't have carpets in my house. It saves my back! ;-)

    Hey, after all the work you've been doing, your house has to be clean. It always makes me feel better when things are straightened, because even if it's not really clean, it looks clean. You know?

    I have a neighbor who is a bit, ok, a lot OCD. I could eat off her floors. Literally. She cleans non-stop. I think she needs anti-anxiety medicine when she comes to my house. Seriously. Sometimes I feel really bad for her. I glance around and see my house through her eyes. I could never be her.


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