Thursday, December 12, 2013

laundry: the dirty secret of motherhood

We all know that raising children is a messy affair.

The minute we see a positive pregnancy test, we know some things will never be clean again. It's simply common knowledge.

For instance:

When you take out the beauty of life emerging from a mother's womb, birth is a fairly grotesque display of human fluids. If you took health in high school, you already know all about it because Matty Smelgerson snickered about it in the back row while you stared at your shoes and tried to find a happy place.

We are fully prepared with the knowledge that babies wear diapers that must be changed. Some of us are a bit shocked at the way those blessed articles occasionally don't do their assigned job very well, but we get along somehow.

Toddlers throw food. We know this long before spaghetti is launched onto the tile floors. It's cute in the beginning, not so cute after month two, and by month four and five we resort to feeding them naked in a high chair stripped of the fabric liner, outside on the patio with a garden hose handy.

Big kids spill cups of juice, leave toys out, step over the bath toys that flew out in the middle of playing submarine, leave plates on the table, and generally have no standard of cleanliness at all. We walk into motherhood fully aware that we will have a lot of cleanup on our hands, and that we will have to teach our children how to make order out of chaos.

A lot of the work can be outsourced or avoided. If dishes aren't your thing, husbands come in handy. If cooking is tiresome, takeout is glorious. If mopping the floors is overwhelming this week, you live in squalor for a few days until you have time to get to the task.

But really, no one prepares you for the endless torture machine that is called Laundry.

There is no way off of this maniacal treadmill of labor. Every day, your children produce more dirty laundry while simultaneously demanding clean clothes to wear.

It's ridiculous, really.

God forbid one of your children has a penchant for wearing clothes for 1.8 seconds and then stuffing them in the dirty clothes basket with the smelly kitchen rags.

When the seasons change it becomes even more challenging because you haven't finished buying a whole new wardrobe for your child and so the two pairs of pants he owns must be washed immediately after being worn.

The words, "I don't have any clean underwear," become the bane of your very existence, because they mean that you will have to dig through a giant basket of clean towels and sheets and socks and whatnot to find the "Super Man ones with the red stars" because Ironman is SO last week.

Your washing machine constantly runs, and you buy endless baskets to house the clean stuff because folding it also means you have to put it away and for the love of all things, you have a life outside the walls of your laundry room that needs living.

As the kids grow, so do their clothes, and the two loads per week of cute little baby things becomes four loads of filthy, stinky big kid clothes.

If you have more than two children, the laundry becomes a veritable force of nature and no matter what you do the storm hits with vengeance on a weekly basis.

You think that if you buy more socks, more underwear, another set of school clothes, one more sweater, one more swimsuit, that it will mean you don't have to do as much laundry so often. But this never works. More new clothes just means more dirty clothes to wash. Laundry is a worthy adversary and will not bow down to your simple solutions.

The minute you empty the last basket and pat yourself on the back for a job well done, there is a new avalanche of filth looming over your head.

No one tells you that this is how it is. Everyone just shoves it in the laundry room and closes the door when they have people over. They hide the clean baskets in the office under the desk.

Zip the lips. Don't ask, don't tell.

We are so ashamed of our inability to keep up with the evil task of Laundry that we don't warn new moms.

Well, I'm coming out today and proclaiming it loudly:

Dear new moms,

The laundry never ends. It gets worse as the kids grow bigger. It's okay to hate it. It's normal to feel overwhelmed by it. It is the natural byproduct of life, and there is no easy way to bypass its wrath. Come to me when you want to cry into the clean pile of dishcloths at 11pm because they are finally folded and you won't have to use an entire roll of paper towels to mop up the spaghetti on the walls. I will understand.


I usually end my posts with a heartfelt declaration about how what is difficult about motherhood is also beautiful. Not this time. Laundry is awful and taxing, and I only do it because I have to.

Now I better go switch the washer load to the dryer. Crack the whip, baby. It's on like Donkey Kong....

1 comment:

  1. I read this as I am avoiding the largest pile of laundry I have EVER had to fold in10 years of marriage and 7 kids. Seriously it's bad. Thank you for being there with me!