My mom came to visit recently. Her time with us is usually spent in a semi-vacation mode but this time was different. My goal was to get projects done. One of the much needed items on the list was to do paint touch ups all around the house.
Once upon a time, when I only had one child, I repainted entire sections of our walls every 3-4 months. Young children and husbands who can resemble rhinos turn white walls into brown walls with multi colored smudges. But I was diligent and our house was pretty much immaculate. I was quite proud of my accomplishment. Then I got pregnant with our second. No paint fumes allowed. Then we had a newborn. No paint fumes allowed. Then I had a toddler. No paint fumes allowed. Then I looked at our walls and was very embarrassed.....
My mom was going to do the painting but I found her scrubbing the walls instead. They were looking pretty awesome but I was still incredulous. She then told me a story:
"In my day paint was very expensive. Only the very wealthy repainted their homes. The rest of us cleaned our walls. My mom, your grandmother, had a maid who came once a month to only clean the walls. I loved helping her. Now, we can of course afford to paint. However, I find it rather discomforting to paint over dirt instead of cleaning it."
She was right. Some of the "dirt" on our walls was actually food from little hands. I knew some stains by heart. The thumbprint of jam. The hand print of pasta sauce. The smear of cheese from mac and cheese, etc, etc. And dare I mention the boogers?
My mom used Bon Amie, a clean scrubbing sponge and a little bit of water to scrub off the dirt. Then she wiped the walls down with a damp clean towel until the towel came off clean with no soap residue. The entry hallway now looks spectacular. It even looks bigger!
I absolutely love cleaning the walls! I can do it with the kids around, that was the major draw back to painting. It's really hard to juggle open paint containers or wet brushes with two young kids in the vicinity. I've continued to clean other walls in the house and remain fume free. It's been glorious! It's amazing how far we've come in one generation.