Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Laundry Purgatory or A Piece of Heaven?

Laundry was taking a while. Approximately eternity, give or take an infinity. That's how it seemed anyway. That is pretty much how it always seems. I gathered, sorted, washed, dryed, resorted and began folding. 

Now I am no fool. My kids fold their own laundry. But I am neglectful sometimes, and my two youngest had at least two weeks of unfolded clothes. Last week it had seemed easier to let them live out of the laundry basket than enforce rigorous folding regimes. Since I am also  impatient sometimes, I decided this week to fold and put them away myself.

So after I folded my clothes and my husband's clothes (don't ask*), and after I got after the older four kids to get theirs done (I confess. I had purposefully overlooked more than just the youngest two's lack of folding. In fact, only one child had folded their clothes last week), I folded and put away Joseph's clothes.

One more basket. ONE MORE BASKET. Laundry purgatory nearly escaped!! But as I walked to my room with Matthew's basket on my hip, Joseph bounded up, boldly smiling his toothless grin, "Mom, want help folding Matthew's clothes?"

Of course I didn't! If I wanted his brand of help I would have encouraged him to fold his own. I was only one stinking basket away from finished!

But his enthusiasm struck me dumb a moment. One moment. A pause. A reflection. What was a little more time in laundry purgatory compared to answering his earnestness with gratitude?

"Sure thing, I'd love some help," I answered in the faux-what-a-fun-adventure voice all mothers master.

My apprentice folder added at least 5 minutes to my folding time. In those five minutes we talked about the first 3 weeks of school. I learned a silly writing exercise his teacher assigned in class ("Can you believe it, Mom?" he giggled, "it was so funny.") and how many of Matthew clothes used to be his ("All these pajamas used to be mine! I loved this one!"). We joked, we laughed, we folded. He talked, I listened.

Those five minutes were the best of my entire day.

Who knew I could find heaven by staying in laundry purgatory a little while longer?

Mommy Snark

*Fine, do ask. I fold my husband's laundry. And I feel like I should be ashamed by this. And then I feel bad that I don't feel ashamed. So I think I should pretend to be ashamed, but I can't bring myself to do it. So if my laundry folding insults you, please feel free to get a life.


  1. We do the "dress from baskets" bit a lot. Neither of our jobs much care about a wrinkle or two, and I tend to find it difficult to find the determination to evict our elderly cat from the basket :). I do handle the majority of the housework, which we both consider fair since DH works full-time and I'm very part-time (about 10-12 hours/week). It's two humans, one cat, and one bird in a small apartment, so housework is nowhere near as big a thing for me as it would be for a mother of six. :)

  2. You need to link this post up with the joyful mothering series that's running on my blog today... perfect example of mothering joyfully... even when it isn't the most convenient or easiest thing to do.

    And also, I fold my husband's clothes too, and I am not ashamed. I don't do his ironing, because he was in the military once and try as I might, I WILL NEVER GET THINGS SMOOTH ENOUGH... to which I most happily rejoice because I hate ironing anyway. But I consider it an act of love and service for me to put his underwear away.

    You've got me thinking though, because I also fold clothes for my children too. They put it away, no questions asked, but the sorting and folding is my job. I'm wondering if I need to rethink this, at least for the oldest three. They are still young enough though I think them folding their own clothes might actually be MORE work for me... what age do yours start their own folding?

  3. AUBREY WILFORD9/21/11, 5:10 AM

    I am definitely guilty of just taking care of the kids' clothes because I'm too tired to remind them again and again and again. And, yes, I fold my husband's clothes too. He'd show up at the hospital a rumpled mess if I didn't. Pride keeps me from expecting pretty much anything from him these days... Perhaps you remember the first year of residency days...

  4. Thank you for sharing that Charlotte! I really needed it today!

  5. Who knew you could have such adorable companionship in purgatory? I love it. Also, don't be ashamed that you fold your husbands laundry. My husband deserves it. He kills spiders, unclogs toilets AND cleans up barf if he is around.

  6. Fortunately, it's 50/50 in our house most of the time. I make sure it's properly sorted and gets into the wash and then Clint normally puts it away.
    Side note: I recently discovered that 1/2 of a dryer sheet makes your clothes just as soft as a whole one. I can't help but think of all the money I've wasted for years!

  7. I fold my husband's laundry as well. And you are brave to stay in laundry purgatory even a mere 5 minutes longer than you have to, but it sounds like time well spent. :)

  8. Grumpy Grateful Mom9/22/11, 10:32 AM

    Wonderful story! !! Laundry is my nemesis too. I have a little 3-year-old helper who insists on hanging my shirts. He actually may be more skilled than me. I've been trying to let my girls help out when I cook more. Sometime I don't have the patience, but when I take the time it is usually a great experience.

  9. Kimberly Carlile9/22/11, 1:53 PM

    Abe is totally into "folding" laundry these days....and unlike my husband whom I often have to go behind and refold things such as towels, he NOTICES when I refold something he did. Yes, so clothes get put away "folded" in a way only a 3 year old can manage.

  10. I totally fold my husband's clothes. I don't think they'd get folded otherwise. Besides, he does most of the cooking, so I can't feel too bad about it.

    I loved this. It's so hard to connect with our kids when we insist on running around doing chores (and I do this a lot). Having them help accomplishes more than just getting the chore done. Thanks for the insight. :)

  11. I had no idea it was an option to not fold husbands' laundry :) I will say I get to lazy by the end to put his things away, though.

    I've been trying much harder lately to spend time with my little boy when he wants to instead of when it's just convenient for me. I'm blown away at how quickly our relationship has become happy again.

  12. Awww, this is such a sweet post! You were definitely rewarded for accepting unwanted help :D

  13. I fold the laundry except for the load that has socks in it. That goes straight to my husband.

    I drive my son to school and it is only 3 blocks away. It is the best conversation that we have every day.

  14. When I was a kid, I visited someone in a hospital. There was this old lady in the hallway with dementia. She had a sheet over her, but she kept taking it off and folding it like a diaper -- over and over again. A sweet nurse brought her a second sheet to cover her up so that she could continue to "fold" the one she had. My mom said, "She's folded so many diapers in her life that it's just part of who she is." I was sick to my stomach. I've hated doing laundry ever since! I am more than the fold of a diaper, a pair of jeans, a shirt.