I took a break from my writing work during the month of April because I had a lot of extra parenting to do while Corey was away from us for work. I used the time to deal with many things, like ENT consults and urgent ophthalmology visits for the kids as well as stuff like Get the Van Professionally Cleaned.
I don’t love that I’ve become a person who drives a vehicle that requires professional cleaning, but I’m also incapable of convincing my kids to eat at meal times, and so they consume most of their daily calories while strapped in their car seats with nothing else to do. The van is brimming with applesauce and peanut butter pretzels, the floor littered with Lego pieces and the broken detritus of plastic toys gone by.
When I called the detailing place, they asked if I thought I’d need a light, medium, or heavy-duty vacuum. Who, I wondered, bothers to pay for just a light vacuum? A light vacuum I could manage with my trusty Dyson, surely. Many Honda Odysseys actually come with a built-in vacuum. “I’ve got fig bar pieces shoved in my seatbelt buckles,” I said. “I think we need the heavy duty.”
To prepare for this detailing, I had to bring in the five blankets and one picnic blanket that had accumulated in the back, along with several sets of new windshield wipers, sun hats my kids never agreed to wear, zoo keys, and school papers that might have been important at one point. I filled several bags of garbage and then wondered where I would put all the sunscreen and bug spray and backup underpants I dug from the crevices in the third row.
I dropped the kids at school and pulled into the detail shop, proceeded to uninstall the car seats and watched as cereal rained from them while I carried them to the stoop. This, I acknowledged, was a filthy vehicle.
And yet, even with all of this grime and pasted on raisin bits and Trader Joes stickers stuck to the surfaces, even then, the vacuum guy said this was actually still a light vacuum job!
Heavy duty, he said, was for broken glass and, like, oil spills. My filth was medium at worst.
And so, this perspective shift brightened my morning. I am medium dirty at worst, and that’s not so bad.