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After months of unemployment, my husband had finally landed an
out-of-state job. I was thrilled that he was gainfully employed, but
staying behind with five kids while we tried to sell our home in a down
market was taxing at best.

Three months into this adventure, I received a phone call one day at 2
p.m. to inform me that prospective buyers would be coming to look at our
house between 5:00 and 6:00 that same evening. Three hours wasn’t much
time to prepare a house for a showing, but my kids could help when they
got home from school.

No problem.

Putting a positive spin on the situation, I enthusiastically announced
to the kids that this was their lucky day. Not only did they get to
clean their rooms and bathrooms instead of doing homework or practicing
piano, but I would also be taking them out to dinner that night.

The response was less than enthusiastic.

While I cleaned, scrubbed, dusted, vacuumed and moved breakable items
to their “showing” positions, the kids seemed oddly quiet. So I went
upstairs to check.

Small problem.

Their rooms still in complete disarray, all my kids were in my room
quietly watching TV. With a positive smile, I found it necessary to
crack the whip.

Time had almost completely run out when I discovered that the boys had never vacuumed their room.

“What’s this all over your floor? Pencil shavings? Pistachio shells?”

“Mom, you’re overreacting! It’s not like they won’t want to buy our house because of pistachio shells!”

Call me a neat freak, but I made them vacuum. And the last thing I did
before we left to go eat was spray all the bathrooms with air freshener.
There’s nothing worse than bathrooms that don’t smell fresh.

In the event that our lookers were running late, I carefully timed our
arrival back home to be 10 full minutes past 6:00. The kids dispersed,
and I was finally able to relax.

Five minutes later, I answered a loud knock at the door and found the
prospective buyers and their Realtor standing on my front porch.

Somewhat larger problem.

“Did you just get home?” the Realtor asked, smiling.

It took a great deal of effort to smile as I said, “Yep, but I’ll
gather the troops and we’ll be out of here as soon as we can!”

Unfortunately, gathering the troops proved difficult. I ran into three pretty big problems.

After some searching, I ascertained that three of my children were
attending to certain business on three different toilets. “Hurry up!”
only goes so far when trying to rush such business.

Needless to say, three of my bathrooms smelled less than fresh when we finally exited the house.

I was washing my face in my bathroom that night when my oldest daughter
stomped in. “I need to use your toilet. Someone clogged the toilet in
the hall bathroom and it’s soooooo disgusting!”

I froze, water dripping down my arms.

“Was the lid up or down?”

“I don’t know. Up, I think.”

Largest and most horrific problem of all — so large, in fact, that I crawled into bed and went to sleep.

Not surprisingly, that showing did not result in an offer on our house.
The reasons for this could have ranged anywhere from the smallish
family room to the corner lot to the outdated light fixtures. But I like
to say it was the clogged toilet.

Because in the end – after a good night’s sleep has helped us find
perspective – some of our most stressful of days and largest of problems
turn out to be the ones we laugh at the most.