I *finally* shampooed my carpets this morning. It’s such a disgusting task. Not the actual scrubbing part. I’ve got a carpet shampooer. It’s fine. It’s the dumping part–when I pour the sucked-up cleaning water down the drain. Gross. It’s just almost sludge. While I like the illusion of cleaner carpets, I wonder how many, many times I’d have to shampoo them to have the water come out clean.
I don’t have enough time in my life to find that out.
Anyway, the reason I’d put it off so long is it’s been summertime, and the kids have been here and it’s general chaos, and I figured, what’s the use? They’re just going to dump more red Kool-Aid and bubbles solution on it anyway. Plus, this is Arizona, and there’s almost nothing anyone can do when it’s 117 degrees besides drink icy drinks and fan ourselves.
But school started week before last (August 7th? Really? Am I the only one who thinks that’s pretty early?) and I have been here by myself (for the first time EVER!!!!! since my youngest started half-day Kindergarten this year) and the ickiness of the floor has been apparent and bugging me more and more.
I knew it had to be done.
But…school was in. And I had time alone! And no one was talking to me! And I unplugged the internet. And I have a book I’m writing.
So I wrote. A lot. Like 100 pages.
Who wants to clean carpets when there’s been this huge GIFT of time bestowed like that? Not me.
So I didn’t.
But this morning, I couldn’t take it anymore. So dirty. No matter how many times I vacuumed, it just didn’t look okay. We didn’t put in the carpet in this house. Retired people did. Bless their hearts. Light blue. And I’ve despised the carpet every. single. day. we’ve lived here. But it was in such good condition when we moved in that we couldn’t justify the cost of replacing it, and my husband claimed his favorite color was blue, so bleah. Here were are, years later, with this light blue carpet. Decorated with splashes of red Kool-Aid.
I will replace it. As soon as we don’t have any kids who need braces. Could be a decade.
Anyway, so the solution in the meantime is to shampoo it. Which is fine. But the kids were home today. Dang it! For sure they would get in the way. They’d need me, crying, as soon as I turned on the machine. The couch that was turned up on its end would come falling down on them and it would end up being a tragic carpet shampooing trip to the ER, and—
I stopped myself from this tirade.
My kids aren’t all toddlers and preschoolers anymore. Duh.
They could help.
“Hey, kids. As soon as breakfast is over, I need you to haul all the small furniture to the garage. I need someone to vacuum the middle of the floor. I need two of you to use the hose-vac and get all the edges of the room. I need you [biggest kid] to help me move all the big furniture, and tip the love seat on its edge in the front entryway. Chop chop!”
And they did. They chopped. Instead of the whole task taking me three-plus hours, it took an hour and a half–because I could delegate all the prep work.
So. Much. Faster.
And they were just fine with staying on the back porch while I ran the machine because we have their Nintendo 64 out there (but no AC, so it didn’t last for the duration of the carpet drying.) Only *one* time did I have to tell a kid NOT to wedge herself into the space between the precariously balanced sofa in the foyer (which is 3 feet square).
It was amazing. The carpet is clean. -ish. I mean, the sludge water was still gross, but this time I used a touch of bleach (at my neighbor Lori’s advice) and so even if it isn’t totally de-dirted, it’s disinfected. I think. At least the house smells disinfected. And that’s half the battle, the psychological one.
And so through all this it occurred to me: I have maybe been failing to live up to my privileges as a parent of older kids. They really aren’t toddlers anymore.
Last month I was visiting with my family in Idaho, and my sister in law said, “Let’s all go to dinner at the Bluebird.” Well, the Bluebird is this amazing, historic restaurant in Logan, Utah. My grandparents went their on their dates. They have a huge, glass candy counter with homemade chocolates. The walls are dark wood paneling and historic photos. They serve things that don’t have the word “Happy Meal” in them. One of their dishes is “Crab Oscar.” So my immediate reaction was, “What? Are you kidding me? We have 18 kids and 8 adults. At the Bluebird? You’re absolutely stark raving mad.”
She said, no, she wasn’t. And they had private rooms for families and you just call ahead and book one, and we’d be fine.
I was a huge skeptic. I mean, I remembered our (it seemed) recent trip to a restaurant as just our family. Our “Manners Dinner,” in which we’d promised and promised the kids that if they showed good manners at home for two months, then we’d take them out to eat at a sit down restaurant. Well, after two months of mostly nobody crawling under the table during dinner, etc., we went to a local Mexican place, and after the appetizer of chips and salsa was served, our youngest stood up on her chair, drank a whole bowl of salsa and threw up. This, naturally, gave me pause.
The Griffiths? We were those people.
Except we weren’t. Not anymore. I had to count back, but that experience was almost four years ago. It wasn’t just yesterday, like it felt. They’d come a long way since then. They’d been to the Red Lobster, and not one of them slid under the table. They’d tried lobster bisque. At a buffet in Las Vegas (which is another story entirely) one of them had begged for…creamed herring, and actually ate it. With a smile. Also, no one wandered off and got lost there. HUGE.
They’re not the same as they were. They’ve grown.
So we did go to the Bluebird, and my sister-in-law was right. The kids, all EIGHTEEN of them were well behaved. There was actually no screaming. The kids had a kid table, and they talked and laughed and dipped their French fries in ketchup and talked to their cousins and it was totally fine.
My kids. They might be ready for prime time.
Well, at least they’re ready to have me clean the carpet while they’re home. And they can go out to eat. And I even took all of them into WalMart with me a few weeks ago, and that wasn’t even horrible, either. Yeah, I got a few looks like, “Are you crazy?” from middle-aged men who probably spend too much time on the golf course and not enough with their grandkids, but hey. Whatever. (Which reminds me of the time a few years ago when I was in Wendy’s with all five kids and even though I was in makeup, had cute hair, a shirt with sparkles and was wearing high heels, this old coot had the nerve to look at my passel and ask if I was a polygamous wife. Jerk. I won’t write here what my answer was–you’d be able to see my smallness, I fear. Anyway, I digress.)
My point is. It’s getting to a point where I can let out a little bit of my decade-and-a-half held breath. I’m a mom, and not really a mommy anymore. No one is calling me mommy now, and maybe I should miss that. But I don’t. Not really. What I should do is take notice of the fabulous stage of life we’ve arrived at, and make the most of it.
“Okay, kids. It’s time to rearrange the living room furniture. Up. Off your bums. We’re moving the couch.”