Well, it’s time to let the cat out of the bag.
No, I am not pregnant. We’re pretty sure our family is complete.
No, we aren’t moving. Been there, done that.
No, I don’t have some other grand announcement to make.
I mean literal cat. Out of the literal bag. Because we have *eek* literal mice!
We’ve known for months that this was a possibility. Our house sits right along a tree line with nothing but protected preservation land behind it. When we moved in, our nextdoor neighbors warned us that they had been enjoying the company of a mouse family. Even so, I was hoping that it would never come to this!
I’d thought for a few weeks that my eyes were playing tricks on me. I’d see movement in my peripheral vision, only to find nothing when I focused directly. Feeling a little crazy is nothing new, so I brushed it off. A few Wednesdays ago, however, we had just finished meeting with our small group when I was tidying up the family room. My husband went to the pantry to grab a quick snack before bed. When he got really still and quiet, I knew something was amiss; nothing about him is naturally still and quiet. I moved towards him, and sure enough, as soon as I rounded the corner, I saw a furry little rodent run from the Skinny Pop, to the Annie’s Mac ‘n Cheese, to the GoGo Squeezers, and finally, behind the box of Frosted Mini Wheats.
Eewww, eewww, eewww!
I am aware that some of you might think mice are cute, but not us. My husband’s more Abercrombie & Fitch than Field & Stream, and I’m more Francesca’s than Cabela’s. It’s no surprise that we didn’t welcome this evening intruder. After performing what likely looked like either the potty dance or a very enthusiastic version of the shim-sham, a popular tap dance from the 1930s, I hopped up on a stool and watched my husband hesitantly do the dirty work. Coming from a guy who despises dirty work, I received this as a genuine display of sacrificial love. He pulled items, one by one, out of the pantry, only to witness the mouse sprint to shelter under our dryer. We were laughing at each other and reminiscing about last summer when a lovely hummingbird paid us a visit. The hubs had successfully caught the bird with a Lego board and a tupperware bowl. Unfortunately, this creative home remedy wasn’t quite as effective for containing the tiny marsupial.
Since that night, we’ve had peanut butter covered traps strategically placed around the house. Not just any traps, unfortunately. We’ve learned that we’ve got a strand of genetically modified mice; they’re smarter and faster, able to swipe the peanut butter from the trap without getting hit. As a result, my husband has become a trap connoisseur and has winningly caught and removed seven mice from our home. Good job, babe! And, so gross!
The brutal reality is that there could be more mice. We don’t know. And, we still haven’t figured out where they are coming from exactly. My husband told me today they could be living in the wall between the laundry room and the garage. Ugh. Therefore, out of complete necessity, I’ve created the Ten Commandments for Mice Avoidance.
1) Thou shalt wear shoes at all times.
Easy, peasy. I actually adopted the habit of wearing shoes during the day when I became a mom. Shoes keep me from stepping on small toys, bodily fluids, and slibber-slobbery half-eaten food particles. And now, shoes offer me protection from repugnant, scurrying non-human friends.
2) Thou shalt walk on tippy toes at all times.
This one’s a two-for-one deal: both mouse-avoiding and calf-hammy-butt lifting. This is where my years of dancing en pointe come in handy too.
3) Thou shalt not go anywhere near the pantry after sunset.
Apparently, mice are like gremlins. During the day, they seem cute and harmless, but they come out at night and cause a ruckus. I typically enjoy a snack before I go to bed, but with the lingering prospect of a mouse rendezvous that’s only appropriate for Disney World, snack time has dramatically diminished. I’m not about to go to bed hungry, though, which means I’ve been slowly working my way through a bag of Swedish Fish Jelly Beans that I keep stashed away in my nightstand.
4) Thou shalt avoid doing laundry at all costs.
Once I saw the mouse escape to beneath the dryer, that was all it took. No complaints on this one. If only I were Cinderella, I could probably ask those mice to do laundry with me while we sang a little tune. If only. *Sigh.*
5) If laundry is an absolute necessity, thou shalt sprint out of the laundry room when the loading/reloading process is complete.
When I was a little girl, I believed that gorillas lived under my bed. If I stepped too close to the bed or hesitated for one second, they would mistaken my feet for bananas and eat them. Consequently, I’d run in and out of bed as fast as I possibly could. These days running away from the dryer feels exactly the same. Only now, I’m 34, married, with three children of my own. Don’t judge me. Miiiiice.
6) Thou shalt be on-guard, ready to jump on the nearest piece of furniture if necessary.
Box jumps: I knew you were good for something.
7) When no one has been home for several hours, thou shalt ensure that someone else is the first to walk through the door.
I’m not about to come home, three kids in tow and my arms full of groceries, to a dinner date with some mice. My husband must be the first line of defense towards any company. If he’s not available, then I’ll be calling my brother-in-law, thank you very much.
8) Thou shalt not reach into any box of cereal, crackers, or granola bars without an oven mit and tongs.
I’ve already discovered little teeth marks on the packages of certain pantry items. It’s far from ideal, but I can live with it because I just throw the packages away. What if a mouse were in there when I reached in? Well, then, my fingers may as well be pieces of cheese, and then it’s the gorillas all over again.
9) Thou shalt thoroughly inspect all corners and wall lines for “evidence” of mice.
Gloves, a hazmat suit, and lots of anti-bacterial cleaning supplies are essential for the disposing of this black mice rice.
10) Thou shalt generously share the way of mice avoidance with any friends or family members that come to visit.
Don’t worry. We are committed to keeping everyone safe. I’m not going to lie though…I think a few of our babysitters have been less than thrilled.
I’ve considered using our mouse-house situation as a metaphor for some profound life lesson or theological truth. Perhaps something about how we mistakenly allow ourselves to fear things that we already have dominion and authority over. But, seriously? Seven mice. Maybe more. Where we keep our food and where we clean our clothes. That, my friends, is profound enough. All I can say is praise God that seven was, is, and will always be the holy number of completion.