Back when we were a young married couple, I used to think it was cute how my husband would throw a pair of jeans into the hamper after only one wearing - whether they were actually in need of laundering or not.
After all, these were the days before our family unit expanded. The days before babies and kids and worms left in pockets. The days before daughters who try on everything in their drawers just because they "feel like it" and then deposit everything in the hamper...under a wet towel that had been used to mop up spilled water from giving the Barbies a swimming pool in a Tupperware bowl right there in the middle of her room.
Tell mom about this little water incident? Nah. That's too easy. It'll dry...eventually.
When it was just him and me and our 1970's gold washer and dryer, doing laundry was fun. Not because our machine liked to shimmy out into our kitchen during the wash cycle, but because even though he refused to wear a pair of pants twice, there was very little of that laundry to do. Days would go by without the hamper being filled. Months would go by without having to purchase laundry soap. A box of fabric softener sheets lasted almost all year!
Now I have fancy front-loaders which, any way you slice it, are like having a little piece of heaven all wrapped up in two box-shaped appliances with tiny windows in the front in order to observe and become one with their clothes washing genius. But despite the shiny, beautiful, energy-efficient machines, laundry is still a chore. A big one at that.
I'm not sure exactly when the laundry started becoming so cumbersome. Probably somewhere in between my husbands jeans and the finding of gum wrappers and bits of tree that come out in just about any load containing boys clothing. As the kids grew, so did the size of their laundry. What used to be one load of delicate, soft cottons with pictures of bears and bunnies playing in fresh fields - bibs the size of doll shirts and pants I could fit on a hamster - has now become one colossal pile, times 4.
I don't include myself in the equation because my laundry is easy and small.
Plus, I never leave worms in my pockets.
Or Polly Pockets.
Or race cars.
And the laundry never smelled as bad as it does now either. Granted, Katie's laundry still smells like fresh cut grass, as all little girl laundry should. But the boys laundry? Oh. Where do I start? It smells like sweat and dirt and lake water. Factor in the detail that they both require deodorant and you can almost smell their laundry from where you are sitting reading this...sorry.
I thought baseball season was over last week. I did a happy dance as I threw Wyatt's uniform in the wash, for what I thought was the last time this year. I may have even had a glass of wine to celebrate.
Now we're in tournament mode, with games at a moments notice. That means I have to keep his uniform fresh and clean at all times, because you never know when the next game will be. This is problematic. Especially because I've already mentally checked out of having to remove sunflower seeds from his pockets (I don't want to start growing those in my washing machine!) and his athletic supporter from his fancy undergarment...Plus, football starts for my oldest in just over a month - can't I get a break?
This has got to be the most thankless, unglamorous, gross job of any laundress - the removing of someone else's athletic supporter (read: CUP). I have reminded, reminded and reminded so many times my head spins that he pleeeeeease take that thing out before throwing his uniform in the laundry. I'm pretty sure if you looked up the phrase "In one ear and out the other," you'd see a picture of my sweet middle child, and he'd still have no idea where his cup was.
So, I'm heading out on a Laundry Quest.
It's kind of like a Vision Quest, except with laundry and without Matthew Modine or a cool Madonna song to accompany it. Which is really unfortunate because I could use a little muscle to get through the amount of laundry I have piling up.
*Originally posted June, 2010