Laundry-doers of the world, UNITE! It’s a scary, filthy machine that never stops rolling and you are the one stainless-steel cog that keeps the whole show a-showin’.
Usually, before 8am, I’ve logged 4,000 harried steps on the Fitbit, tallied about 3 loads of laundry and completed at least one clean up that involves feces or vomit. It sounds like a joke but alas, I promise you it most certainly is not. I never kid about money or chores.
Such is the life of a mother to 6-8 minors and 10-50 species of animal at any given moment. I’m not even counting the grown-a$$ men that I frequently mother on the side, in my spare time.
Some people wake up and head to the Keurig or the shower or out for a lovely and rejuvenating jog.
I, on the other hand, sprint straight to the washer in my unmentionables and peer into the abyss with the anxiety of a hoarder on clean-up day. It’s not agitating! Did I forget to switch a load that now smells like the underside of a sick toddlers bunghole?
Someone won’t have panties or a tutu today! I may have to wear the same crotch-sweaty yoga capris for the fourth day in a row. Oh, wait. I do that anyway.
Chapstick, crayons, stickers, snot rags, gum, disposable diapers. They all strike fear in the heart of the Laundry Mistress.
You know what I’m talkin’ ’bout. The innocent-looking half a crayon drops out of the sopping wad and rolls in slow-motion across the tile as you’re transferring the wet clothes into the dryer. The little thumps echo your racing heartbeat as the tiny nub of orange skips the grout lines and disappears under the cabinet.
The world stops orbiting for a millisecond as you fall to your knees in slow motion and thank your lucky stars for that narrowly dodged bullet covered in torn paper with ‘burning sunset’ etched on its side.
You break into a cold sweat and mop your brow as your 5 year old asks you why your lips are so white and scaly.
“Mommy just saw her life flash before her very eyes, honey-pie.”
The only worse scenario I can possibly conjure up in my sleep-deprived brain is lice. Heaven help me the day lice scurries into our fold.
I’m pretty sure my husband has a Lice Reconnaissance Plan in place. It involves a passport, a Guy Fieri wig, blue sunglasses with yellow lenses and a midnight flight to Colombia where he would integrate seamlessly into the populace and become “Juan-Dabeed”, who is a drug-smuggling pilot and water-color artist on the side.
But I haven’t thought about that much.
Anywho. Back to the Institution that is Laundry. I toy with the notion of minimalism every January with the rest of the people trying to figure out why life is so suckishly hard and I typically partake in a major purge.
I give each of the kids a list that they must adhere to and carry out at least until February 5th when my new-found resolve for an organized life melts and drips into my extra 15 pounds of twin baby fat that just.won’t.leave…;
1. Get rid of everything but the two pairs of skinny jeans and one Nasa t-shirt that you actually wear.
2. Make sure you have ten underwear and ten socks.
3. If you haven’t worn a particular item in six months or more, put it in the donate bag and I will subsequently drive around with it in the back of the van for six more months until I remember it’s there and take it to Goodwill. By then, the five and nine year olds will have rifled through it and brought 50% of it back in the house.
4. Camel-toe stretch pants can be retained, but only worn at home during the hours of 7-9pm.
We also have what some like to call a “Family Closet”. Basically, the kids’ clothes stay in an area right next to the laundry room.
We have a giant shelf unit, which came with our house and was used by the previous owner as a “bar” in the “sunroom”, which is now a “junkroom” that houses the “family closet”, the dusty Bowflex, some mattresses, an elliptical machine, 15 dogs and their luggage and enough refrigerators and freezers to store food for a traveling circus of hungry Russians or a large extended family gathering at Christmas.
Each child has three laundry bins. One for clean clothes, one for dirty and one for pajamas and other weird clothing articles that no one knows where to store like shirts with holes where the shoulders should be, which no one is allowed to wear anyway. (Children, please refer to rule #1)
They also have a smaller shoe bin and a bin for socks and underwear. I also recently got real Pintresty and added a small shelf with a small, plastic basket for each child to hold their scarf, winter hat and gloves. I feel so accomplished every time I gaze at it. There’s something about organized outer-wear that makes a girl feel like she’s finally figured out adulting.
Weird and fascinating fact: all four of our daughters, aged 5-14.9 wear basically the same size underwear. Don’t ask me. I have no idea. It’s like that movie about the traveling pants.
Their dresses and coats are supposed to hang in their closets. Sometimes they hang on the floor or wherever they drop the article after coming in from the beloved trampoline or from a church dance.
Our family mottos this year are;
“Don’t put it DOWN, put it AWAY. ”
“A place for everything, everything in its place.”
(Well…there’s also the motto of “You all want me to go crazy, don’t you?” but let’s just ignore that one for now.)
The kids already screw their faces into horrible grimaces and mimick me with shocking accuracy behind my back when I chant these new, life-changing mantras to them so frequently, their ears ears twitch.
Since the advent of the “family closet”, everyone 5 and up is responsible for their own personal laundry. What this really means is they dump their dirty basket into the washer, pull it in an agonizingly slow manner to the dryer and then smash it all into the clean bin until I unhinge and freak out and make them separate and fold it all.
Don’t you worry, though. The Laundress still has plenty of work to keep her busy. The towels alone are a full-time job. Then there’s sheets and rugs and stuffed animals and pillows and cloth diapers and comforters and three to seven daily twin outfits and my ever-growing amass of yoga pants and the strange and beloved assortment of robes we’ve accumulated over the years.
If it can’t be washed in a commercial washing machine, it has no place here.
Speaking of commercial washing machines, if you’ve never heard of a Speed Queen, please Google Her Majesty. I feel a little vindicated by the fact that She is identified by a feminine noun. I know some engineer somewhere was like, “Holy heck, this Speed King washer is gonna be the shiz-nit!”
Then, sharp-as-a-tack mother/career woman/ad exec was like, “Um, Bill. I’m sorry. This machine cannot have a male-inferred nomenclature. Not happening.” Sorry to all the guys out there who do laundry. I’ve never met a unicorn and look forward to it.
Welp. That’s all I have to say ’bout that. I am the Laundry Nazi and I have a name tag to prove it. I have an unassuming wooden plaque hanging in the laundry room (which, lets face it, is actually a large closet) that reads,
“Laundry. It’s where Mom hangs out.”
And that, my friends, is a true story.