Mama meets the machine

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We have a new “pet” in the family. It doesn’t eat. Doesn’t ever need a vet appointment. It can do lots of cool tricks. And here’s the best part – it never makes a mess.

In fact, this modern-day pet roams the house each day cleaning up the hair left behind by the shedding four-legged pets, who sniff it suspiciously and then walk out of its way.

Our new “pet” is a robot – the kind that vacuums the floors on its own. I’ve had my eye on it for months now, after hearing rave reviews from friends who adopted a vacuuming robot of their own. When the one I was researching finally went on sale, I pounced.heart175

In the few weeks he’s been roaming the house, I’ve grown so fond of the little guy. We named him Schweepee because he’s quickly become like a member of the family. But unlike the rest of us, Schweepee only needs to be asked once to do his work.

He never complains. Never says he’ll get to it later. Never rolls his eyes or sighs heavily or conveniently “forgets” because he was busy playing Xbox or listening to music.

And, boy, is this little guy diligent. With a touch of a button on his remote control, Schweepee leaves his charging base in the kitchen and sets about his mission to find and collect all the dust, lint, pet hair and crumbs left behind by the rest of us. All he asks is that we empty his dust-collection bin after he’s done with his work. (There’s something both gross and weirdly satisfying about seeing the amount of stuff Schweepee picks up each day.)

This technological pet has a remote control that allows me to choose what type of cleaning Schweepee will do on any given day. Do I want just one room vacuumed? All rooms? Maybe just along the edges? One troublesome spot? Do I want to schedule it to run automatically at the same time each day?

There are so many options, and they all result in a cleaner floor. What’s not to love?

I really admire Schweepee’s work ethic. This flat, round workhorse will vacuum until he has literally expended every bit of energy he has. When he’s too weak to keep going, he will slowly roll back to his home base in the kitchen and slide into the dock to recharge.

Because Schweepee is flat and low to the ground, he can bravely go where no upright vacuum has gone in years. There’s something so liberating about sitting on the sofa at the end of a long work day while a vacuuming robot glides underneath it to vacuum up the dust bunnies that had taken up residence.

Like so many other women, I think I’ve fallen in love with Schweepee because he leaves vacuum cleaner track marks everywhere he goes. If men understood just how much women love and appreciate fresh vacuum marks on the rug, they would never ever stop vacuuming.

Of course, he’s not perfect, nor do I expect him to be. Every now and then, Schweepee gets stuck in a weird spot or tangled up in a lamp cord. If I don’t hear his tell-tale hum or see him parked on the charging base, I go looking for him like a little lost sheep.

“Oh, there you are. Are you stuck, Schweepee?” I coo at him. “It’s okay. I’ll help you get back home.”

Then I lovingly pick him up and return him to his home base so he can recharge for the next power button circle

Our 11-year-old daughter said the robot’s power button looks like a glowing blue nose. We bought a couple of plastic googly eyes and taped them on above it, which gives Schweepee even more personality. We think he’s kind of cute.

Our real pets think he’s kind of creepy, but their opinions don’t count since their shedding issues made a robot vacuum necessary in the first place. So here’s to robots who take us a little closer to the Jetsons home of the future.

Long live the Schweepee!

Gwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of

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