Sunday, October 9, 2011

Laundry as Metaphor

I'm a person who always likes to just get things done. I do not procrastinate - I desperately want chores and tasks in my rear-view mirror so I can move on to more fun things, or relax. "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good" is one of my mottos.

One thing I struggle with is the idea that laundry, a classic chore if there ever was one, never ends. I repeat: laundry never ends. You can finish a basement, you can clean a floor, and those results will last a little while before you have to revisit them. However, laundry needs to be done every few days around these parts. If there are dog or child accidents, then every day.

Laundry falls into my section of the old division o' labor around these parts. I don't mind it. It's easy to sort and drop things into the wash. What I hate is folding. But what's tricky about this chore is that even as you are folding your stupid underwear for the fifty millionth time, you still have dirty laundry in your hamper.

Laundry used to be easy. Me and Mike. We are not that dirty. Then came a dog. Then came a baby. There's no way around it. Two of us have occasional accidents; three of us wear clothes, so our things get dirty, we need to wash them, so we need to dry them, then fold them, then put them away. Then wear them again.

As a person who likes order and finality, I've finally accepted the fact that I never really "finish" laundry. I finish "a load" of laundry.

It's frustrating to continuously have laundry on my to-do list, but it's also a blessing. To me, having lots of laundry is a testament to the fact that our home is dynamic and full of life and activity. Laundry seems banal, but it's also a sign of life.

Por ejemplo. Yesterday we went apple-picking and our daughter's clothes got dirty and apple-y, as they should have - children need to get dirty. Then we strapped her into the carseat and it was hotter than expected, so I let her play with an open bottle of water. Surprise, surprise, she had poured an entire bottle on herself at our next stop. We then changed her out of her wet clothes and took her to an ice cream parlor. Ice cream. More mess. But as they say - bless this mess.

So I still don't love laundry or anything. But I do know why it's endless - because we make an effort to live a messy, full, fun life. It's now my pleasure to accept that fact. Sometimes that means that I can't have the finality I like when it comes to chores. But given the choice between just the two of us and all four of us, it's no contest.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go take those very clothes out of the dryer and... well, you know the drill.


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