Sunday, September 27, 2009

It all comes out in the wash

Sunday is a special day for me. It's the one day I can sleep late, even if sometimes that's only by half an hour. I don't feel compelled to check my email or - on some weeks - even turn on my cell phone. Sunday is my day to relax, hang out with the kids, and watch Mike play video games. In short, Sunday is my "guaranteed" day off.

But you can't fully appreciate the sun without clouds, and there is one big cloud that hangs over my Sundays.

Laundry.

In the litany of household chores, doing laundry has to be the least satisfying and the least appreciated. Unlike cooking, washing the dishes, or grouting the shower, laundry is never truly "done." Even if you insist that your whole family spend Sunday in their birthday suits just so all their clothes can get washed, there is always the stray sock or pair of jeans that somehow escapes your notice and the washing machine, never mind that you walked by it a half dozen times while hauling baskets of soiled clothing through the house to the laundry room. And how many fingers do you have left over after you've counted the number of times you thanked your mom for washing your underwear?

Big, fluffy, spring-fresh-smelling cloud.

Even though it is a thankless and unsatisfying job, there are some small joys for the laundress. While doing the laundry occupies the hands, the mind remains free to wander. This makes laundry day the perfect time to answer some of life's most baffling questions. Apropos laundry, I spent some time today considering the classic case of the lost sock. I am convinced that - under a certain, as-yet-undetermined set of conditions - socks are magically transformed into dryer sheets. How else can one explain how after eight loads of laundry I am short three socks, but I have eleven dryer sheets?

Another small joy of laundry day is discovering lost treasures. When Ian first realized that those little pouches in his pants were the perfect places to stow "things," I made a rule that every member of the family was responsible for emptying his or her own pockets. Any items left in pockets become the property of the laundress. Everyone abides by the pocket-purging rule for the most part, but every so often something will take a spin in my washing machine. Usually my treasures amount to a few peppermint disks (minus the red stripes, which disappear at some point in the wash cycle,) but I do score a five dollar bill on occasion. My elation lasts until I realize that the money fell out of the pocket of my jeans. My greatest thrill is to find one of the kids' toys, squeaky and sparkling clean, in the bottom of the washing machine. I forfeit my property rights in those instances, instead taking my reward by watching their faces brighten when I present them with a treasure they hadn't realized was lost.

Even though the laundry is never completely done, there comes a point each Sunday when I consider the chore finished. Though I know the hampers will only be completely empty for a few hours, I experience a sense of fulfillment as I tuck neatly folded t-shirts into drawers, hang jeans in closets, and marvel at the beauty of the sunset as it colors the clouds. With the celerity of life during the week, I sometimes feel that I do not give my family the care and attention I should. Doing this one small thing for them on my day off doesn't make up for the rest of the week, but I trust that in the end it will all come out in the wash.

1 comment:

  1. Very Desperate Housewives'ish. I can totally imagine you kneeling down and smiling as Lily toddles away after being given a 'new' toy! Lovely!

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