When it came time to select carpet for our living room six years
ago, I really didn't give the matter much thought. I was a working
mom with two children under 2. We were knee-deep in a home
addition. My husband was facing his father's illness and subsequent
death while training at the Chicago Fire Academy. It was an
insanely busy and stressful time. We woke up each morning assuming
that nothing was going to be easy, and most days, we were
It was under these circumstances that I made an unfortunate
choice of carpet: white. Because I wanted to add some
light and happiness to our lives. I know what you're saying.
What is she…new? Yes. At the time, I did not fully
understand projectile vomit's impact on carpet. I was unaware how
explosive diarrhea can permanently alter a living room. I did not
know that black crayon repeatedly stepped on by toddlers is nearly
impossible to remove. Friends with kids tried to warn me, but I
refused their arguments.
I was an ingénue - still hopeful that my living space would be
dictated by my likes and preferences. Glass picture frames
and stained glass lamps should remain. I was the mistress of this
castle, and I wouldn't let these ruffians attempt some kind of
Candy Land coup d'état.
One broken Tiffany's lamp and super-sized baby gate later, I am
now a realist. Every inch of my house screams kids live
here! An extra-tall changing table was the focal point of my
living room for years. I bought furniture to match the cover of its
changing pad. Toys are still piled high in every corner, in every
room. A plastic basketball hoop holds court nightly in the center
of our living space. There is no pretense anymore or escaping the
undeniable fact. The children have won.
It wasn't even close.
Despite this, the old me was becoming unhinged by the obvious
sum of three boys plus one white carpet. It was all there in black
and white: the ground-in poop courtesy of failing diapers and the
flu. The black Sharpie stains from when I accidentally left a
marker out within their reach. The chocolate chip trails from
crumbling granola bars on the mornings I appointed Danny in charge
so I could grab a few extra zzz's.
My husband tried to be logical. He reminded me that we had
already spent our allotted home improvement savings towards a new
driveway this past summer. Our old driveway had become a serious
liability issue, and I was terrified that it was going to kill our
mailman or Fed Ex guy with one of its San Andreas-sized cracks. The
new driveway was a huge expense, so I could understand my husband's
reluctance to commit to another purchase so close to the
That is, I agreed in theory.
Then I had my meltdown as I looked at a photo of our carpet. I
knew every stain intimately. I had paid for professional cleaners.
I had scrubbed these very blemishes with any product I could find.
It was all for naught. The stains reappeared as if by magic, or as
if the devil himself was taunting me. I desperately pleaded my case
I can't look at that big poo stain by the television one
more time. It's either new carpet or therapy.
And my sainted husband agreed because he knew I wasn't letting
go. He'd hear about the bad carpet every moment of every day until
I won. I know it's wrong. I know he should get a say. I know, but
I'm a woman with a frail psyche when it comes to epic carpet
I met with several carpet companies to secure the best possible
deal. It was the least I could do. Yet each time I met with a
representative, they became confused by my solitary demand:
Me: I want carpet that is the color of
Carpet Guy: Ma'am?
Me: Stain. It needs to match my stains.
Carpet Guy: Oh, ma'am, we have lots of stain
resistant carpets that don't…..
Me (interrupting): No. I've had "stain
resistant." Now I just want the color of poop.
Carpet Guy (a little scared now): Yes, ma'am.
Do you mind if I just…
Me (interrupting): Do what you got to do, but I
need poop-colored carpet at a ridiculously discounted rate and I'd
prefer to have it installed tomorrow. It's a matter of mental
health. Feel free to talk to your manager. We'll wait.
It took a few different places, but my wishes were ultimately
granted while my husband shrugged his shoulders and wondered why he
didn't just remain a bachelor.
I look now at my new poop-colored carpet that will hide a myriad
of new stains and I feel complete. It is the same kind of happiness
I felt at the birth of each child and when I married Joe. It's that
over-the-top euphoria coupled with a shot of love and devotion. Oh
My poor husband is still shaking his head and wondering what was
wrong with the old carpet and why he didn't see the warning signs
before we were married. I haven't the heart to break it to him or
remind him that we had hardwood floors back then.
Some things are better left unsaid.
Marianne is mother of three sons and the wife of a southside Irish fireman. She has learned that sometimes you're just too dumb to know what makes you happy. She blogs regularly at We Band of Mothers (webandofmothers.com) and curses with even greater frequency. Her material is written for the imperfect, the imprudent, and the impatient mothers who know that all this stuff is really very funny if you just give it a minute.
See more of Marianne's stories here.
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