Beyond a slight, nagging dread in the back of my mind, I don’t think much about laundry. Like a clingy friend, it’s there every time I turn around, and I wish it would get a life of its own. Occasionally, I have to remind myself that if I don’t keep up, small purple dots of mildew will appear on our clothing.
Sixteen years ago, when we first moved into our home, I asked hubby not to relegate the laundry to the damp, occasionally flooded, basement. Cracks in the walls and floor allow entrance to all sorts of critters. He promised that he would always do all of the laundry forever and ever, cross his heart, hope to die, stick a needle in his eye. With childlike faith, I believed him.
The day after we moved in, I gave birth to our third child. While I was in the hospital, hubby did a single load of laundry. I wish I’d been there to witness it. I think it would be kind of sexy to see him do laundry, but I’ll never know because he has never washed another load. And I kind of suspect the load he takes credit for was actually done by his mother.
Spiders and frogs were regular participants in my laundry experience. Twice, creepy blind moles, with ugly thumbs, charged at me from under the clothing piles. Once, I had to call hubby to deal with a snake that was wriggling in my path. He appeared, wearing goggles and leather gloves, wielding a five-gallon bucket and long BBQ tongs that we normally reserve for catching mice.
As he gradually eased closer, 10-year-old son came bounding down the steps. “Cool! A snake!” he exclaimed as he reached down and picked it up with his bare hands. Needless to say, it was son I screamed for when I spotted a salamander sitting in the corner, eyeing my every move.
To say I hated doing laundry is an understatement. In 21 years of marriage, I’ve only been caught up once. I had been feverishly running up and down the basement steps for two days, loading and unloading the mountains of clothing, towels and sheets that had accumulated over a busy weekend. I transferred a load from the washer to the dryer, and then turned to pick up the next load. In astonishment, I stood gaping at the stack of empty baskets. I shook my head in disbelief, and mentally went through each room in the house, trying to remember if I’d left a basket sitting somewhere. It occurred to me that, with everything else caught up, I could start on the curtains and throw rugs.
I had almost two full minutes to revel in the knowledge that there were no dirty towels or clothes in the entire house. Suddenly, I heard a crash and, “Moooom! I dropped the pitcher of Kool-Aid and it spilled all over me!” I headed out of the basement with clean towels for mopping up the mess.
Last year, when we decided to remodel the kitchen, which led to remodeling the bathroom, which led to remodeling the living room, dining room and office, I managed to carve out a small area for laundry. We gave away the 16-year-old, rent-to-own washer and dryer with a warning that there could be frogs and spiders hiding within, and I picked out a shiny new front-load set. The family gathered around, and we watched with fascination as clothing and soap bubbles sloshed back and forth in the window. One day, I walked in and found son (who is now 18) and one of his buddies watching the spin cycle. Maybe, someday, he’ll be a husband who’s not afraid to do the laundry. But if he is, I’ll help him out by secretly doing it for him whenever his wife is in the hospital.
Ginger is an author, speaker and mother of five. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.