Every week, I will share a “Let’s Get Real (LGR)” post that focuses on an area where I feel overwhelmed or feel like I’m failing. You can look forward to pictures of my messy house, or confessions of bad parenting. The idea behind LGR is to remind us that we can’t Get it All Right all the time. I want you to see the areas in my life that are getting left behind because I’m focusing on other things. Housework will usually be at the top of that list! I’m also starting a hashtag for Instagram and Twitter: #letsgetrealhbom where you can share your own LGR moments. Let’s encourage each other by letting down our guard just a little.
Can I admit something to you? I have a love-hate relationship with laundry. It all started when I was a kid, and I didn’t like to take the time to put my *magically clean and folded* clothes in my drawers. One day, my mother explained to me how my clothes got cleaned and folded, and that I was going to have to start doing my own laundry. I was nine.
I didn’t mind washing my clothes. It was actually nice to fold warm laundry fresh from the dryer. I probably wore a lot of dirty clothes for awhile until I got into a rhythm (if my kids are any indication). As a college student, I did not have piles of dirty clothes like so many of my peers. As a young woman on my own, I loved the feeling of having all my clothes clean and in drawers or hung up. Life with laundry was easy and pleasant.
Then I married a clothes horse. Hundreds of t-shirts and polos, dozens of pairs of pants, hundreds of hard to match socks of all colors…laundry became a race against the pile. I did tell him before we were married that I don’t iron. And we have stuck to that except on very rare occasions. He buys clothes that are wrinkle-resistant, which helps. But I still have to make sure not to overload the dryer with his work clothes, to let them go through the cool-down cycle, and pull them out as soon as that drum stops tumbling.
Then we had Lily. Sweet, adorable baby with all her sweet, adorable baby girl clothes. Laundry became fun again. I loved folding all her cute little outfits and putting them away. Then I had another baby. Same thing–although everyone knows boy clothes aren’t nearly as cute. (We did cloth diapers for awhile, but that wasn’t as fun. I had to stop when I got pregnant with Ian six months later–my stomach just couldn’t handle it. And then, with a toddler and a baby, we never looked back.)
I remember going to a MOPS conference where one of the speakers talked about having a laundry system. I laughed when she said, “Your laundry system isn’t working if your clothes aren’t being put away.” I thought, “My ‘laundry system’ is moving clothes from the floor to the washer to the dryer to a basket. If it makes it into a drawer or a closet, that’s not a system, that’s a miracle!”
There was a 6-month stretch when we lived with my in-laws and Lily and Ian were 2 and 1, during which I was not allowed to cook, do laundry or clean. Sounds heavenly, right? But I found that I missed taking care of my family, and so when we moved into our own place at the end of that time, I was all about the housekeeping. That probably lasted a year.
Then the kids grew a little and were responsible for putting their clothes away. And they quickly learned that their clothes weren’t magically being cleaned by elves, and as soon as they were tall enough, began doing their own laundry. But that comes with its own headaches. Like candy wrappers and money from the boy’s pockets in the bottom of the washer. Or, just last week, a disposable diaper that got washed and discovered when I switched the clothes to the dryer. Was it clean or dirty? We’ll never know! It’s clean now!
And so the march goes on, with no end in sight. Robby still has a lot of clothes, the kids still sleep on piles of (dirty? clean?) clothes on their beds…and we have another one coming up behind them, who is not showing the smallest signs of being a clean-lover or a neatnick. I’ve given up any pretense or expectation of a system. I get tired of tripping over piles of clothes in the upstairs hallway, or watching Graham climbing over mounds of laundry in the kids room, but I figure it’s just extra exercise for me, and good skill development for Graham. It’s not going away any time soon, so I might as well be philosophical.