The Meaning of Laundry

Tonight I found myself in the laundry room, wondering about the meaning of life. It could have been because I was exhausted. It might have been because the laundry never ends. But I think it was because my eldest daughter, Hannah, had been reading Ralph Waldo Emerson and Emily Dickinson out loud to me as she studied for her English class, and so it goes.

As Emerson stated “We but half express ourselves and are ashamed of that divine idea which each of us represents” (in Self-Reliance). I could only think that my kids represent too much laundry.

It seems to me that people prepare you for parenthood in many ways. You take birthing classes and read What to Expect When You Are Expecting, but nothing could prepare you for the amount of laundry motherhood involves. I think somewhere in the literature that they pass out when you take a Lamaze class there should be a laundry clause: "Having this child, and any subsequent children, will create mounds of dirty laundry that only you, as the mother, will have the secret knowledge and ability to wash, dry, fold and put away. Plan on washing one to three loads each day, and give up making sense of any of it.”

Laundry seems to be the one mommy-reality I cannot accept, and the one that drives me the craziest. I can’t stand it when my kids put their PJs in the hamper after one wearing; even worse, straighten their bedrooms by carrying folded (yet never put away) clean clothes and tossing them in MY hamper. Argh…..pet peeve for sure!

While we are on the subject of laundry pet peeves, it drives me crazy when one of my children needs something dried to wear to school, so she takes the load out of the running dryer to put it in, never tells me about it and leaves the damp load on top of the dryer to get moldy. Double argh….

So tonight as I stood there in the laundry room wondering about the meaning of life, I remembered the words of Emily Dickinson that “hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without the words, and never stops at all.”

Yes, each morning is filled with hope. Each day with new adventures that create dirty laundry. My husband and kids are healthy and I am more blessed than I deserve. I know that ten years from now, my grown children will not remember if I kept the laundry up. What they will remember is living in a joyful home, full of peace and love, for each other and for Christ.

And so, standing there in my laundry room, I ponder yet again the meaning of life. I will try to escape what Henry David Thoreau called a life of “quiet desperation,” and shall instead follow Ralph Waldo Emerson and hitch my wagon to a star.

But someday if you see me in the backyard singing “the tune without the words” with a pile of dirty laundry and a match, just know that I finally figured it out.

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Posted by Trish Berg 5:00 AM  

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