My Dirty Laundry

I loved doing laundry when my kids were growing up.

I love the fact that there is a beginning (dirty clothes in laundry baskets) a middle (sorted and washed, dried) and an end (folding and stacking).

In the house where we raised our children, my laundry ritual was to sort and fold while sitting on my bed, watching television. In an odd quirk of home design – and certainly not to building code – my washer and dryer, which were in my garage, were accessed through my closet. What happened because of this unwieldily configuration is I did virtually all of my kids laundry while they were growing up. Rarely did they have to do any laundry themselves – partly because of my weird compulsion to fold clothes, and partly because I didn’t want them tromping through my closet to the washer and dryer. So there you go. The laundry was mine.

Even so, I’m not complaining. The clothes I washed and folded were tangible signs of the growth of my kids – from itty bitty socks to football player stinkers, from carters undies with hearts and teddy bears to thongs and strapless bras. There was a wistful sense of time passing through the laundering of my family’s clothing.

I’ve washed t-shirts from elementary school carnivals, middle school baseball leagues, all-star softball teams, the football booster club and high school show choir. I’ve folded countless pairs of jeans, from Baby Gap to Levis, J Brand to  7 For All Mankind. I’ve dried footie pajamas and blankies, boxers and baby dolls. I’ve sorted cropped tops, tanks, short shorts, and leggings. There were Barney tees, Power Ranger tees, Batman tees, and Simpsons tees. I’ve smoothed and folded endless sheets, from crib sized to king sized. I’ve shlepped towels to the washing machine hundreds of times, the smallest with a little hood for my children’s tiny baby heads, the largest for late night jacuzzi sessions with their friends.  And then one day they were gone, all those tees and tanks, leggings and blankies, sheets and towels and everything else. And it was back to just my husband and me, a manageable few loads per week.

Sometimes, I miss their stuff. Even though they’ve been gone for years.

I know I must sound nuts, but laundry is life. It’s what we wear – how we show the world who we are, where we’ve been, what we believe. Each time I folded the laundry I felt about as maternal as I possibly could. By neatly folding the shirts and rolling the socks, I was telling my kids – and my husband, too – I love you, I care about you, and I want you to look nice.

I loved doing laundry.

Unloading the dishwasher? Not so much.

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  • You can come and do my laundry any time, Sharon!

  • Well….. *sheepish grin* I don’t exactly share your love of laundry…and I don’t really like dishes either. But I love doing homework with my kids, reading to them, and playing games with them. I love helping them to get their rooms in order so they have a comfortable place to hang out. I love entertaining their friends.

    I enjoyed your post! Cheers, Jenn.

  • Holly

    In agreement! Doing laundry is a way of showing your love.

  • Oh, PLEASE come to my house! I’ll save ALL the laundry for you! And you can FOLD! I don’t mind folding, but everything seems even more rumpled once unfolded. And my washing machine repair man told me my machine keeps breaking nbecause I do too MUCH laundry. Ironic, yes?

  • I remember doing tons of laundry for many years and honestly, I do NOT miss that, exactly. What I do miss is the days of little things in my laundry. Yep, I do miss the days of little ones living here and changing clothes 4 times a day just because.
    Nowadays, I do my own and my husband does his own. It works out well because sometimes he wants his stuff done every day and sometimes I only need mine done every 2 weeks. The household stuff, throw rugs, towels etc, is in my hamper so I do get the bulk, but it’s all good. It isn’t a chore I dislike, I just do it.
    I love your connection here to the family and laundry. I guess I kinda share that feeling if not the love of laundry and I don’t go through my closet to get to the machines, but I’m not sure I would mind that.

  • I’ve always enjoyed laundry too, but I am not sure I ever put down the reasons like you did in this post. Now it makes perfect sense to me.

    As for the dishwasher, I don’t mind that either except for the silverware, I detest that part… hehehhe

  • Love the post. It’s so true. When I read the part in the comments about you being an organizer I cringed. I just wrote a post about cleaning my office. I am only half done because I can never throw anything out. What does that have to do with organization you might ask? Well… I have shelves, and boxes, and baskets, and well… Such is the life of someone who cannot throw anything away no matter how useless it may be. Great Post! 🙂

  • Hi Sharon, first time visitor here. I suppose if you want to look for love, you can find it everywhere in the little things that you do for your loved ones, for your family. I never thought of the laundry as an act of love. Not a chore, either, mind you, plus I’m too OCD to let others fold my stuff (they never do it MY way). But I hear you about the onesies, I miss them so.
    Great post. Looking forward to reading more 🙂

  • I never loved the laundry, never hated it. Lived in an apartment when my son was a teen, and he had one rule about laundry: It had to make it into the hamper before I did laundry (since I had to go out to a laundromat) or he was on his own. He could wash it in the bathroom sink, wear it dirty, or Figure Something Else Out.

    Oddly enough, a few sessions of washing his own dirty boxers in the bathroom sink pretty much cured him of missing the hamper.

  • I understand your post. I too do all my sorting and folding on my bed, while watching t.v. I also take great pride in my folding! With 5 kids at home, laundry is a daily part of my life. I start while the coffee is perking and work on it through out the day.

  • Very sweet going down memory lane with the laundry, but not for me. I am always amazed at the quantity that can amass overnight, and then the sock issue!
    That said, I did have to buy a new washer this fall and I had a huge demand list for the machine. The local appliance store had a red one and the salesperson asked if I could live with red he would make me a deal. Red is my favorite color before the sale and even more after the sale!

  • Aimee

    Sharon…well said! I too am a closet laundry fan. With my youngest of three leaving for college this fall, I am going to miss this part of my weekly routine. I will be joining your ranks of empty house; maybe not so full mind 😉 I enjoy reading your blog. So many times, you have put into words the things that have been in my brain; I do not have the gift of words that you do.

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