Laundry: Friend or Foe?

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Laundry, so often a dreaded word in a bustling house full of four teenage girls. I am truly amazed at how much laundry, in one day, starts to take over the hamper and overflow into the hallway, as if bubbles escaping the tub. And this is where my love/hate relationship saga begins with the laundry.

Some days I’m all in, enthusiastic, and ready to get the day moving by putting in my first load of laundry. Weirdly, it makes me feel like I have accomplished something of importance in the early hours of the morning, while the sun is still rising. But other days, I just silently hear myself repeating the old 1980’s commercial from Dunkin’ Donuts, “It’s time to make the doughnuts.” The same routine over and over again becomes so mundane, so trivial, but also very needed.

The number of conversations with other moms about laundry hacks could literally bore you, the debate of should I have the girls do their laundry or save it all for a weekend could go on and on.

Day to day laundry is a rotating cycle that I can’t escape. When I do think I have narrowly escaped, the funny thing is, it’s always waiting there for me upon my return. It’s really no different than the cycles of the washing machine itself. Maybe some days a shorter load than others, or darks one day and whites the next, but the cycle must keep rotating and must keep going to keep my house in some semblance of order and, of course, to also have clean underwear.

Too often though, the dirty laundry makes me miserable, causes my day to start with a hostile tone as I clench my teeth, but I just go through the motions of washing and folding, knowing that this is what I choose to do for my family of six.

So often, I feel a little tug at my inner soul. My heart takes over, grabs me by the collar, shakes me up a bit, and basically tells me to wake up and stop complaining. There are more significant issues in life than laundry! The early morning loads of laundry will one day end, and a little voice encourages me to relish in it now and enjoy the present moment as dull as it may be at times, for this too will end.

My little people are now teenagers, and within a few years, they will all be in college doing their laundry (even if they let it pile up for three weeks). Once I step back and face the stark reality that I have very little time left washing and folding, I am thrown from “time to make the doughnuts” to Taylor Swift’s tearjerker, “Don’t Ever Grow Up.” How did this happen? How did time move so fast? I blinked and now they are in high school.

So, the laundry and I may have a battle, but it’s the internal battle that I struggle with realizing my days of doing the laundry will come to an end, and that mamas, is hard to absorb.

So now, on the days I am feeling hostile about the monotony of laundry, I take the clothes to my kitchen table, put on some music, and gaze out to my yard while folding the fourth pair of ribbed jeans. I think back to the times of the girls swinging, with pure delight on the tire swing, all of them small enough to fit together, or sliding down the old green slide laughing while holding on to each other in a train. I envision the grass-stained knees while trying to perfect cartwheels. As I fold, I silently laugh while maybe a tear rolls down my cheek.

The laundry and I are close friends now, or maybe we are trying to work on our relationship. But that’s all I can do, just continue working on this area of life where everything is moving forward. I hope that my love carries the girls throughout the day. It’s silly, I know, but maybe it helps me move forward with the inevitable…one day I will only be doing laundry for two, and that is bittersweet.

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Ali lives in New York with her four teenage daughters and her husband. After moving around a bit as a child, she spent her teen years in Westchester county, moved to NYC for college and returned to Westchester fifteen years ago. Prior to having the girls, she was an English teacher, and on the side always enjoyed writing with the hope to one day publish a poetry book. In her free time, Ali enjoys going on long runs, browsing independent bookstores, catching up with friends. She is in a constant state of doing laundry, cooking, policing arguments, driving to and from activities, and trying her best to be the kind of mom her girls will admire, even on her worst days. Ali is excited to share with you the joys and hardships of motherhood with an open heart. You can follow Ali on Facebook at https:www.facebook.com/hangintheremama/ and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/hang.in.there.mama