There are chores we all have in common and doing the laundry is one of them. Even if you are lucky enough to sub it out to someone else, you and I both need clean clothes. We also need someone to clean them for us. In my house that someone is me. I don’t mind doing laundry. I think that anyone who has spent time at a laundromat considers it a blessing to have a washing machine and a dryer at their house. To use whenever they so choose. And if they can afford laundry soap that smells amazing – I really don’t see how anyone could complain. I have these things (including the time spent at laundromats) so I am lucky and I know it. I also have two young daughters (wardrobe changes!) and an active husband as well as large beach towels we use almost daily. So the laundry piles up. Then it tips over.
Lately, as I have been writing in the garage/laundry room/office I tend to throw a load into the washer and begin to type, taking a moment to switch it into the dryer, then carrying on. Multitasking! But it gets the space hotter (maybe that’s the afternoon sun) and the last load I ran took forever to dry. Which left me wondering if I tried to put too much in at once or it was a symptom of a far worse fate. Strike two came when the electric bill arrived (yes, probably the air conditioning but also the dryer that never gets a break). To complete the trifecta the kids had mentioned how they couldn’t go to bed earlier because “they really weren’t tired” at bedtime and the books/puzzles/crayons/crafts/board games/movies/video games/ shadow puppet theatre we had “weren’t enough activities” for them this fine summer morning.
My thought process went a little something like this…Sigh. If only there was a way on this super hot, sunny, breezy day, to get the laundry done while being outside and doing something that might wear the kids out while not using so much electricity. The dryer could use a break. Maybe I should invent something.
Cue this conversation. Me: ” So, who wants to play Cinderella today”?! Little Sister: “Like talk to animals”?! Big Sister: “Cinderella ball gown Cinderella”?! Me: “Nooooo, but better”, (big smile) “Cinderella saving the Earth by using less energy to do the laundry”! (Add clapping). (Then silence). So we settled on pretending we were “from the olden days” (Little Sister) and “from a small village” (Big Sister). And just like that I was in business.
When the kids were babies I almost exclusively line dried the clothes. Then I got “busy” which also means “lazy” in this instance. In this busy period I would fall into the wash/dry/unload/leave in giant pile/ feel bad about pile/ move pile to another location/ pull from pile as necessary. I know I am not alone in this behavior but after a while I grew up and grew out of it adding the step of “folding” in between ” unload” and “leave in pile” like a proper adult. You can’t get away with that if you are line drying because it is in your face, one pile of one hundred things stays concealed much neater than one unbroken line of one hundred things on display.
That one good choice led to some more, like making fresh fruit smoothies for breakfast (again, geez, I wish there was a refreshing breakfast idea that could use some of this fresh fruit and was easy to consume outside). As well as some poor ones, like a kid experimenting with if they could blow bubbles in the smoothie (in THIS game of Cinderella we mop floors too!!). But it was time well spent. We talked about families and cultures and the future and all the stuff that seems to come easy when your hands are busy and you don’t have to make eye contact with your Mom if you don’t want to.
By noon I was feeling pretty accomplished (foreshadowing) surveying the clean floors, tidied rooms, and drawings the kids had made. Then I heard a strangely familiar sound. The sound of pelting rain.
If the kids thought hanging the clothes was fun (and they did), they thought watching me as a ran like a lunatic in the pouring rain was ten times more fun. Towels and jeans, socks and suits, collected manically to a chorus of giggles and pointing (“Over there”! “You forgot your braaaaaaaaaaaaaas”!). Wouldn’t you know that on that last piece, the clouds parted and the sun came out, as if it was a test to see how committed I was to this little lesson (totally not a test, summers here have a saying, “If you hate the weather, wait ten minutes, it’ll change”).
I took a deep breath and hung it all back up. As it dried we took it down, piece by piece and delivered it room by room. I know I might be romanticizing it (I’m sure if I didn’t own a dryer and I had to be at work at 3pm, my uniform getting soaked at noon would be a little less dreamy). But I forgot how soothing the pattern could be. After some transitionary years and on the cusp of another one where I’ve felt a bit lost at times, I realized how completely at home I was both literally (ha ha) and figuratively. I could see the laundry through the laundry list and it was clean and wrinkle free.