Recently we spent a few days with our friends, let’s call them John and Jane. John is an easy going guy who seems like not much bothers him. His wife, Jane, is a beautiful, funny, vivacious lady who is a big germaphobe. She is serious about getting her clean on. I was a little worried that I was doing stuff all of the time that was grossing her out. I’ll be honest I don’t get it. OK, I would like to be entranced by cleaning, but I’m just not. It’s not my favorite way to spend the day. I do love Myers cleaning products and appreciate how much I like a spotless house, but I would rather spend the day reading or cooking, or almost anything else than scrubbing the toilet. I do it, I just don’t like it.
Our new house has a fresh, contemporary vibe. We have a concrete hallway and lots of windows. I love it. Once we moved in, I was surprised how fast that hallway got dirty. The hall is right inside the front door and what everyone sees as they come into the house. With all of the light, you can’t hide the dirt. I wanted to figure out a way to make cleaning this hallway manageable. My broom wasn’t cutting it. I needed an upgrade. My plan was to lean on modern technology, so I bought a Swiffer. It was ok, but I needed more cleaning bang for my buck. I boosted the Swiffer power and got one that had moist pads. Ugh. It was streaky. Keith joined in and got a dustmop. That actually worked pretty well until we had to figure out how to pick up the dust at the end of the hall. A dust mop is what you use to clean a basketball court not a hallway. It’s 2 feet wide! Where do I shake out all the dirt?
I know, I know, first world problems…
After a trial with a Dyson stick, our regular vacuum cleaner on low setting and a dry string mop. Keith decides to get us a rumba. He told me that we could set it so it would run at night. We would come down in the morning and the floor would be swept and the hallway problem would be solved. Leave it to my engineer husband to figure out a solution. I wasn’t sure it would work on our concrete, but I was in.
So we get our rumba. It’s a little round robot. I’ve seen YouTube videos and think they are grand cat taxis. We named him Wall-e. Keith set it up and programmed the time for him to run. We wanted it to clean at night so Wall-e wouldn’t be underfoot during the day. He did a test run, and all was good. I was jazzed! My hallway problem was about to be solved.
A few days later I wake up to the same dirty hall. Wall-e didn’t clean. Maybe we got a Wall-e that was a little too much like me and would rather read than sweep? Keith rolled his eyes and assured me that was not the case. Something was amiss. So we tried it again. We got up the next morning and again a dirty hall. Wall-e would sweep during the day but just didn’t want to at night. This went on for a few days.
Then one night we forgot to turn off the hall lights. Lo and behold we woke up to a clean floor. Hmm. Could Wall-e be afraid of the dark? As an experiment, I left the lights on overnight. The next morning everything was clean. So yes, our robot won’t clean in the dark. Keith has explained to me that it’s the camera that lets him see the walls that needs a little bit of light. I prefer to think of him as our little friend and likes a nightlight to work. Don’t judge me for giving Wall-e human characteristics. I watched The Jetsons when I was a kid. Who didn’t want a Rosie as a maid?
In the end, it worked out well. The trouble getting Wall-e going was a small thing, but I promise you a couple of years ago in our relationship it could have been a thing we might have had conflict over. It would have been so easy to belittle each other for the failure of Wall-e’s first attempts at cleaning. I might have said some snarky comment about it being a dumb and expensive idea, and Keith could have reacted with hurt feeling over my contempt for his solution to the problem. We often fought over the little things rather than being courageous enough to talk about the big things that were off in the relationship. To make matters worse so often in a fight it became about who was right and who was wrong.
Being right was a thing in my family. You didn’t question. You should somehow just know things. Being wrong equaled being bad. You were stupid. You were inadequate. It was not something that I knew was happening, but as an adult, I can see it now. The problem with having to be right all the time is that if you are right, sure you get to win, but it makes your partner a loser. I had to think about that. My partner that I loved so much had to lose to make me feel better about myself. I had to be better than him. That was a terrible way to be in a relationship. I hated it when it happened to me as a kid and I promise it didn’t feel any better as an adult. It was a big problem we had to overcome. It’s taken a lot of work, but we are on the path of figuring it out. Our first step was deciding if it was more important to be right or be married. Sounds simple but I guarantee remembering this in the middle of a fight is not. I have to remember that everyone has the right to their opinion. Sometimes, my opinions are way different than Keith’s and the same goes for him. We are 2 different people and its I’ve learned to accept that his opinion can be different than mine.
Wall-e is a story about how Keith gave me a gift from his heart. He thought about what would make my life easier and put his spin on it. I would have never considered a rumba as a good gift. But he did. He didn’t have a fear of being wrong. He just did it. I am grateful for the part of Keith’s brain that is so different than mine. He doesn’t always see the world as I do. Somedays it’s a challenge. Most days its a delight. We’ve discovered that being different is not being wrong. It’s just different. He doesn’t have to wrong to let me win. We’ve taken that off the table. He just lets me be me and doesn’t mind that I think our robot is afraid of the dark.