Tuesday, January 29, 2008

My Life as a Laundress

My Life As a Laundress

Have you ever noticed how much you can learn about your family from what you find in your laundry basket? When there are jeans in my son's things, I know the weather has dropped below zero, otherwise, he wears shorts. Seriously. He's hot blooded. When my daughter's dating someone there are lots of pretty blouses in her basket. When she's not, it's T-shirts.

I get a lot of change that immediately goes into my poker cup. If you leave two quarters in your pocket, kiss it goodbye. Once I find it, either in the laundry basket or in the washer tub, it becomes mine. House Rule. If you don't like House Rule you are invited to do your own wash. So far no one's taken me up on that.

Because I work at home, I almost exclusively wear pajamas. I have more pajamas than a fully stocked Victoria's Secret before Christmas or Valentine's Day. My husband realized a few years ago when I quit working and began writing for a living -- thus living in my PJ's -- that he can go to any department store and find pajamas from sexy lace to work-horse flannel and these make excellent gifts for any occasion. He doesn't have to know a specific size, just be in the ballpark, and if he's got money he can spend big bucks. If he's sort of broke, he can get me something as pretty at WalMart. Unfortunately, before he discovered pajamas, diamonds were his gift of choice. Though I love my PJ's, I'm not sure I made out in that deal.

We use heavy duty, extra strength detergent and we're not stingy about it. We like our clothes clean. Which is probably why each of us changes a few times a day. And why laundry is such a big deal in my life. I do a lot of it. Luckily, there is no water shortage in our city!

My son who now lives on his own is allergic to a certain kind of laundry soap, so we never bought it. Still don't. It's like a ban that's never been lifted, or an old law that's so antiquated it makes us laugh. It's still in force, even though it's no longer needed.

Every morning, I sort out two loads, wash them and put them in the dryer. When the dryer dings, I dump them on a chair and the clothing owners have 24 hours to get their things off the chair and into their rooms. If they don't, then I take the clothes into their rooms. If a drawer accidentally falls open as I walk by and ... well ... I see things then it's on them because I was only in their room to put away laundry that they should have put away.

You'd be surprised what THAT particular adventure has netted me in terms of news and information.

I grew up in an era when women began to fuss and fume about having to do all the housework. I'm not in their ranks. I sort of like housework. Don't get me wrong, if I could afford to pay someone to scrub toilets that person would be living with me right now. But I don't mind dishes. Washing them is very soothing. I love to scrub. Who doesn't love to toss water on a floor and watch a mop try to corral it? But laundry is my favorite. It's like keeping in touch with kids who are growing away from me.

I knew immediately when my daughter switched to thongs. Not because she told me or because I bought them (though in some way, shape or form I'm guessing I did) but because I washed them. I've watched their taste in clothes mature. (Even if their underwear declined.) I washed fatigues when Spunky was in the army. Blood stained shirts after Mikie's trips to the hospital.

I guess in a way, laundry is a history of sorts. Or a way to stay in their lives when they're struggling for independence. A chance to say a quick prayer when you see your kids are growing, growing away, growing into themselves.

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