A Rookie Mistake

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 right.

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 holidays.

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 to Joe:

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 stains.

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 stain.

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 happy day.

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.

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