Vacuum Lines of Love

The best part of vacuuming is making lines.  No matter what direction they go, vacuum lines shout that the carpet is clean. I’ve often thought that if I would just drag a stick across the rug in a pattern, people would think it was freshly vacuumed.

Vacuum lines in carpet

Over the years I’ve tried different patterns to make sure the lines are symmetrical or creative or expressive.  I almost feel like it’s half-science, half-art.  You want people to walk in and see the lines . . . so they know you’ve cleaned for them.

But it doesn’t last long.

After a day or so, the lines are gone, replaced with footprints.  Usually, when I see the footprints, I think, “Oh, now I have to vacuum again.”  It’s like something that needs to be fixed.

If the carpet has lines, it feels like the whole house is in order.

Vacuum lines in carpetBut one morning, a couple of years ago, it was different.

It was a Sunday morning.  As I walked out of the bedroom and looked into the living room, there were no lines.  There were footprints — hundreds of them.  It was the exact opposite of the perfection I strive for.

But it made me smile.

They were little footprints, not big ones.  They came from the day before when our granddaughters, Averie and Elena (age 6 and 3 a the time), had spent hours with me in that room.   The foam blocks had become castles as Averie told non-stop stories of dragons and princesses and kings and moats.  The wooden train cars kept Elena occupied as she scooted animals and trees and signs across the tracks.  We talked and laughed and played until dinner.  Mostly, we loved.

The room had been filled with shrieks of delight with wrestling and pillow fights and “tickle bugs.”  It was a room of giggles and joys and memories being born.

It’s what that room was for.

The next morning, there were no lines.  But instead of the usual frustration, there was a deep satisfaction with what had happed in that room.  The footprints were a joyful reminder of what the room was really for.

Now, I still make lines when I vacuum.  But when little people are coming, vacuuming isn’t to get rid of the footprints.

It’s to prepare for them.



  • Diane

    I guess I need to change my perspective and attitude when I see little muddy paw prints on the kitchen floor! Paws that tell me our little black dog is roaming around safe and secure.

    • Yep – she was only lost for 24 hours, but it was a long 24 hours . . . bring on the mud!

  • Kathy Collard Miller

    Great reminder: it’s a matter of perspective. Thanks!

    • You and Larry are welcome to mess up our carpet anytime . . .

  • It’s not a good day for our granddaughters unless there are footprints and fingerprints all over the house and they leave dirty. 🙂

    • Changes your perspective about dirt, doesn’t it?

  • Nicole Russo

    Oh yes…the vacuum lines! When our older two boys were 11 & 12 they had been somewhere with their dad and I stayed home to clean. Upon their arrival home I greeted them at the back door and said, “don’t walk on the vacuum marks.” They walked around the house to the front door where at the time we had a small tile entryway. I stopped all three of them and said, “don’t walk on the vacuum marks.” The 11 year old said, “I have an idea… You get the vacuum and follow behind us everywhere we go because we want to come into our home.” It was a huge wake up call for me. Not long after that we had two more sons and I decided to take out all the carpet in the house and make the one and only room that I insisted have vacuum marks be the game room – not the “formal living room, the biggest room in the house, where no one was allowed in to. Sadly my sister and I were taught to walk in the “pathway” so we wouldn’t mess up the marks. When I became a mom, I didn’t know any better. Having hardwood floors throughout my house have me a freedom I had never experienced before.

    • What a great story – thanks for sharing it, Nicole! First you dealt with your feelings about the “lines,” then found a permanent hardwood solution. Love it.

  • well that just makes a person smile!