Years ago, I wrote an article for a now defunct Mom website, with the title artfully called “Laundry Guilt.” In the missive, I shared my intense hatred of laundry and the volcanic piles that erupted around the house and trailed into the garage where our washer and dryer resided. It was a never-ending cycle of dirty clothes, then clean, but then dirty again because my four children have laundry distraction issues and would rarely fold and put their lavender-smelling fashion into their closets.
That was a decade ago. As my children grew, their clothing choices shifted to a very elite number of items – and 99% of the time, these are found at the absolute bottom of their laundry hamper. So, when that softball jersey or favorite top or skinny jeans is needed – the detritus of the laundry hamper is spilling over and seeping onto the hardwood floors, creating chaos and concern. The guilt still lingered. For many, the chore of laundry can be soothing. You can see a finished result. A once basket of dirty clothes is now clean. The towels are now fresh and fluffy. Socks have mates. World harmony is restored. Namaste.
But I’m not in yoga class. This is real life and no one is letting me have 10 minutes of Shavasana. Laundry, for me, means work. Totally mindless, busy work that sucks all the fun out of my day (and night). It never ends. There is no finish line. Once spotless and echo-y hampers quickly evolve into baskets half full – not half empty. There is no positivity with laundry – only pure pessimism. A needless cycle of sorting, stain sticking, spray washing textiles that when untouched in the safe and secure crib (that us Mothers call a laundry basket) will turn into a wrinkled glob of denim, Lycra and orphan hoodie strings if left unattended to.
You know when the Social Security Administration mails you an unsolicited letter advising about all the years you worked and that in 10 million more you can qualify for benefits? I feel the same way about laundry. There is so many more piles to tackle, rewash, bleach, don’t bleach and wrinkle release. Where is the reward? When can I really start to go back to yoga and not worry about doing laundry?
I hear the laundry lovers out there. Why don’t you train your kids to do their own clothes? Believe me, I have tried. And when there is a full-on emergency, my four lovely and talented children will run a load or quick cycle. The training wheels are off and they can do it! It’s an old adage a former manager shared with me. Either people are unwilling or unable. My four children fall into the first category.
“You will miss this,” others may share with a wink and knowing look. “No!” I shout back, “I do not miss the laundry hell.” What I do miss terribly is the schedule when they were little – the summer reading contests at our library, beach trips, Scouts, the school Christmas shows, and that totally unsolicited hug with “I love you, Mom” attached to it. Today, I confess to you, dear reader, about a whole new level in fluff n’ fold remorse. Just last week, as I was sitting at the foot of my bed folding a towering basket of towels, my Fitbit starts buzzing on my right wrist – shaking me out of my cotton and terry cloth coma. My device declares that I just completed 10 minutes of laps. Now I’m swimming in guilt.