I do not know where it all comes from.
It is voluminous. It is continuous. It appears to be contagious, multiplying seemingly out of nowhere, like Gremlins. It is completely out of proportion for four people. I had everything completely caught up on Monday night, I swear. And when I say completely, I mean that everything had been washed, dried, folded, and put away. That last part is usually where the process stalls, as everyone seems to have no problem with coming downstairs to grab a pair of underwear out of the folded laundry basket sitting in the living room, not bothering to take the rest of their pile with them. Anyhow, it was all put away, and the only thing left in my laundry chute was one little hand towel. I felt so accomplished, like I had conquered the world! Or at least my small corner of it. And yet, a mere 5 days later, on a Saturday morning, it is back. All of it. And it brought friends, I think.
Some of this is understandable. My husband and I are very active, so we each have sweaty workout clothes that go in the wash nearly every day. I always have a big pile of pajamas in my folding pile, due to the fact that I have developed these lovely middle age night sweats that soak me right through and often require one or occasionally two changes of clothes in the middle of the night. And I have an 11 year old daughter who just joined the swim team, thereby creating a weekly influx of towels and swimsuits. Oh, and also because– she is frigging lazy. There is no way that all of the clothes she throws down the laundry chute are dirty. My frequent requests that she clean up the floor of her room have backfired. The floor of her room is now in my laundry room, in the never-ending pile. Mount Washmore…and more…. and more…and more….
Sometimes, doing the laundry results in some serious questions. For instance, if I am doing four days’ worth of laundry and one parent has 4 pairs of underwear, and the other parent has 5 pairs of underwear, why does one child have 9 pairs of underwear, and the other child has one pair of underwear? Solve for x. One pair. I have obviously failed as a parent. Also, why do we say a “pair” of underwear? It is not really a pair, like a pair of socks. It is not two items, it is one item. I only wear one at a time. Maybe the person with 9 pairs of underwear in their pile is wearing two at a time? The child with only one pair of underwear in their pile clearly has taken the concept of wearing one pair of underwear at a time a little too far.
I cry uncle. My head is hung in defeat. If I let it go, close the laundry room door and ignore it, it will just be worse tomorrow. But the last thing I want to do on my Saturday is wash, dry, fold, repeat.
And such is life, yes? Wake, work, eat, do all the things. Exercise. Drink your water. Cook healthy meals that people complain about eating. Clean up. Weed the stupid garden. Answer all the emails. Sign all the school papers (a part-time job in and of itself!). Drive your kids here there and everywhere. Help with homework. Do “self care” (because a 15 minute bubble bath or 10 minutes of deep breathing is apparently supposed to refresh me after 15 hours of responding to peoples’ needs). Sleep. Wake up to another pile of……sheets. Wash, dry, fold, repeat.
Again, I cry uncle. Life seems to be piling up faster than I can keep up with. I am working on gratitude, because Oprah said that developing a gratitude practice changed her life. BUT. Oprah has people to change her sheets and cook her meals and take care of her house and tell her what clothes are fashionable and DO HER LAUNDRY, so I think that probably frees up some time for her to perfect her gratitude practice.
Speaking of gratitude, why does this always have to be the key to a joyful, fulfilling life? Why can’t the key be chocolate? If that were the case, I would be the freaking Dalai Lama. And all of you would line up to have me autograph your copy of my NYT bestseller, “The Wisdom of the Peanut Butter Cup”.
Sometimes I try to talk about these things with other moms when I’m out and about, airing my figurative dirty laundry. Just a little toe out to test the water. It used to work when my kids were younger. There seems to be this camaraderie among young moms that I am really missing with older kids. There is something so universal about the trials of having little kids. They poop up the backs of their onesies, they have separation anxiety, they won’t take a bottle at day care, they refuse to potty train. We used to speak of these things easily on park benches, in grocery lines, and while pushing swings. It was sort of like getting a little sneaky look at the height of someone else’s laundry pile, and feeling less alone because everyone else is buried also. It’s harder to hide when you have little kids, because your clothes don’t match and you wear two different shoes to work and your child screams through the aisles of the store and then spits up on you at checkout.
I have no interest in hiding. I am trying to find my people, those moms that love their kids like crazy and don’t want to miss any of their things BUT ALSO would rather be at home doing nothing. Kind of like how you want your baby to lie down and sleep but once he is sleeping you miss the baby and want to go pick him up? Remember that ambivalence? Does anyone else still have theirs? I will test the waters by saying things like, “It’s crazy, right? This time of life? I feel like I’m spread as thin as I was when they were babies, except I sleep through the night”. I need to hear that someone else can’t keep up with their pile. I’m desperate for the swing-pushing camaraderie, but not with someone who is keeping up with their pile of sheets. I needs someone who is knee-deep in sheets. Within 10 seconds I can tell if I have chosen the wrong person for this experiment, by the furrow of the brow, the look in the eye. A look of confusion–“Oh, I’m loving it! I love watching all the soccer games and music concerts and recitals and cheering them on and seeing them become their own little people!” Oh yes, me too, that’s actually what I meant. It’s sooooo fun. Not like I’m not sitting here in the bleachers at 7:30 pm in my scrubs, haven’t been home since 7 am, haven’t eaten since 1 pm, haven’t seen my husband since 2005. It’s fun! Every day a new adventure. What time will I get home tonight? Will I eat dinner or not? Will I be able to stand up long enough to shower before I collapse? Who knows? Every day is something new!
It’s all fine. I’m not ready to throw in the towel just yet. I will just fold it and put it away. Because, laundry pile.