A Not-so-Magic Carpet Ride
I often face criticism for the amount I work and my pursuit of busy. What most people don’t realize is that my on-the-go lifestyle is really just an elaborate scheme to avoid folding laundry. I am a terrible house keeper. When given time alone at home to get chores done, I usually ditch the broom for an episode of People’s Court and a round of Tetris on my son’s handheld video game.
I wouldn’t even call it laziness, I genuinely just despise cleaning.
I , of course, blame my mother for this. She kept my childhood home spotless. There was no 10 second rule in our house, you just ate off the floor without question. I never have lived up to the standard she set . . . but I also have never lived it down. As much as I hate cleaning, I love cleanliness.
Which means I also reserve the right to blame my mother for
what happened Friday night.
It started with a bottle of Windex and a fleeting memory of
a mop I once used. Then, standing in our living room fully prepared to tackle the dust on the fireplace, I looked down at the carpet beneath my feet. It all
felt useless. No amount of scrubbing could make my home feel clean; the carpet ruthlessly stole the joy of a sparkling toilet with its taunting stains.
Instead of cleaning my house, I uncarpeted it. Padding and all. I can now tell you that two hours of ripping and rolling revealed more than just sub-flooring.
I learned that my children have never once actually cleaned
their rooms. They simply shoved all of their belongings into every possible crevice ( a fact discovered while moving furniture.) Who knew my son had a
collection of 50 water bottles, the entire contents of my parents’ rock garden, and a full arsenal shoved behind his headboard ( with a more accurate count, I would have quit buying him Nerf guns years ago).
I discovered that vacuums are magical; they don’t really suck anything, they just create the illusion of clean. The horror I found beneath our shag will give
me nightmares for years to come. Every speck of dirt, drop of ketchup, drizzle of wet dog, sunk deep into the padding and beyond. I smelt birthday cake I made five years ago, the cat we had for six months before the dog tried to eat it, and the bottle of tempera paint my daughter sopped up with the contents of my husband’s underwear drawer. Then there was the glitter. Only God can account for the glitter.
Most importantly, I affirmed that no small project is ever small (and that my husband is exceedingly wonderful when it comes to cleaning up after my whims.)
It seemed simple really; rip up the carpet and lay down something not carpet. Simple turned into eight trips to Home Depot, debris removal, rearranging of furniture, more rearranging of furniture, bizarre angles, sanding, floor board removal, floor board painting, floor board reapplication, caulking, grinding, and a number of other tasks that I neither understood nor actually performed. I
write my account of the work based on the moans and groans of my husband and stepfather.
I helped by coaxing the kids into staple removal (which they
did for about 20 minutes until the novelty wore off and they realized they’d
been tricked into actual work), directing traffic, and eventually abandoning
the not-airconditioned house for greener pastures. In my defense, I did take the dogs. Well, one of the dogs.
As the weekend concluded we had only one room fully complete, caulk and all . . . it was my bedroom. Adding to the excitement, some wonderful church folks gave us a new bedroom set, and to top it off I found a clearanced-out bed spread to replace the one the dog ate (a whole other blog entirely). There was something so peaceful (and clean) about that completed that room. I slept well last night.
This morning I ran into a woman. She had a bird’s eye view of the semi-deconstruction in my life last year. I’ve never spoken to her, but assumed she had taken sides and did not like me much. I was surprised when she showed me kindness, forgiveness, and understanding. In a way she replaced a small torn up section I didn’t even know was there. It caught me off guard a bit, the way that one person’s willingness to put things back in place could bring me overwhelming peace.
Relationships are funny. People have a way of tearing up our carpet, revealing the dirt and gunk we try to hide. We think we have it covered; until we are rubbed the wrong way, until our buttons are pushed, until the worst in someone else brings out the worst in us. Suddenly we find ourselves covered in glitter and reeking of wet dog.
When relationships get that ugly, I usually run away. When someone has seen me at my worst, I make every effort to never see them again. When someone has been ugly to me, I try to leave the state. When the carpet gets ripped up, I grab the kids and a dog and look for greener pastures.
When I do . . . It feels dirty.
We can clean up our life and make it look perfect, but it will always feel dirty when we are not right with one another.
In that light, consider the importance of God’s commands regarding relationships: don’t let the sun go down on your anger . . . as much as depends on you make peace with all men . . . if you know that your brother has something against you go and make it right . . . leave your grudge before you come to the altar
We have opportunity when we bring out the worst in one another to lay down a new foundation, sand out the rough edges, caulk the holes, create peace. It is never simple, never easy, it will always take more time than you intended. It is also always worth it.