Well, I’m hoping the title didn’t throw you off — but, I guess if you’re still reading, it didn’t. I’m obsessed with vacuuming. Laugh if you want, but I’ve carefully considered the reasons why I love to vacuum and to buy vacuums and to talk about vacuums and… oh, sorry — I’ll continue.
Working with children with autism, I’ve discovered the importance of our senses and how our sensory system helps regulate our emotions and our behaviors. About 75% of the cases I assist on are related to some type of aberrant behavior and that aberrant behavior is often tracked back to an inability to regulate sensory input — oh, I did it again didn’t I, sorry — I’ll continue.
I can remember when I was very young, I would so very easily fall asleep to the sound of the vacuum — its steady hum sent me immediately into some hypnotic state of Neverland. When my mother vacuumed at night, it was the best story I could have ever been read or the best lullaby I could ever have been sung. I could breathe deeply, relax, and let go.
When my oldest daughter was born, she was an excellent crier — the best, really, I wish there had been a contest. She cried at exactly the same time every night — 7:12 to 11:34. Although I knew this was coming and could try to plan my emotions around it — every night when it started, I always felt helpless. I was trying to soothe her one fateful night and trying to clean the small cramped apartment and stay focused on other things so as not to completely crack under the pressure of her cry. So, I coddled her in one arm and reached for the vacuum with the other. As soon as I switched the vacuum to on — her crying stopped and I was able to take a deep cleansing breath.
That was my solution for her for the next 5 months. I went through three vacuums but I maintained my sanity. I’ve thought about this many times over the years. Whether or not her crying had something to do with my lack of mothering skills. If she was able to sense my tension at such an early age and her cries were reflective of that. And… if the vacuum helped me regulate or helped her regulate.
I vacuum quite often now. I usually begin my day by vacuuming my house — I know this might seem strange, but it can be very cleansing. I also typically vacuum the house as soon as I get home. For me, it’s not about all the carpet fibers going in the same direction (although that is an added bonus), and it’s not about the actual cleaning of the carpets (although, again, a bonus to my obsession), it’s about the sound. The dull, low, hum that resonates deep in me.
We are all trying to regulate our senses, to gain control of our emotions, to let go and breathe. Maybe mine seems a little strange. I would like to discuss it with you, as soon as I’m through vacuuming.