If my mother is ever famous for anything--other than her singing, of course--it will be because of her immaculate kitchen floors. Even when things were at their worst, there was never a time in my memory that one couldn't eat off her squeaky-clean floor. (Simulation)
So I got the message--if the kitchen floor is clean, everything is all right. Kind of like how one can tell immediately which patients in the hospital are the sickest just by looking at their hair. One can tell how insane Mama is just by looking at the kitchen floor.
"Let's mop the floor!" I announced brightly this morning to the three tiny people velcroed to me. Sadly, I couldn't remember the last time it had been more than damage-control washed.
So we picked up all the stickers and dolls and dirty socks and cookie cutters and shredded papers and shoes and mittens and pokemon cards.
Then I swept. As I looked for the dustpan Little P finished sweeping for me. So I swept again. Let the dog out. Picked up all the measuring cups, spoons and canning tools that Caboose had emptied from the drawer. Then I swept the pancake that Caboose had shredded. I started to mop. Answered the phone, changed a poopy diaper, answered the phone again and picked up all the contents of the previously mentioned drawer. Then I washed Caboose's face and wiped Little K's nose. Mopped another section. Put all the measuring stuff back into the drawer and quickly mopped that section, and then washed Caboose's face again and put the markers away. I let the dog in.
Then I hung 15 paper snowflakes on the fridge, swept up the little papers and quickly took the scissors away from Caboose. After putting a band-aid on Little K's finger where Caboose had tried to remove it, I mopped the final section. While I changed Caboose's shirt, Little P mopped some of the places I must have missed. While Little K changed her own clothes, I dried the floor where she had slipped and tossed all the wet clothes and towels down the laundry shoot, wiped up the final puddles and surveyed the job site.
And, even though it will probably never be completely clean all at once, I know in my heart that underneath all the paw prints, shredded kleenex and barbie barbering that it is pristine. Sigh.
I have to wonder how my mom did it.
I have a vague memory of us all, little dog included, sitting in a row on the edge of the carpet, watching her mop the clean floor. Not one of us would ever have dared step on it while it was in progress. Huh.