...that is, in an ideal world. I could live in my laundry room, or any clean, well-ordered light-filled space (pantry, anyone?) with a worktable, if you let me. But I don't because I can't. I have to do other things like cook, clean, write, tend chickens, daydream, read, get on the computer.
This morning I was told by our youngest son, promptly at 7am because they did not have an expected snow day when the rest of the state seemed to have one (so he was already a bit upset), that if I didn't do laundry by tomorrow morning he and his brother would not be going to school. Later on, my husband echoed the same. He is on his way to get them now on this cold, blustery, semi-snowy day.
|The images in this post were among those not selected by my editor for an upcoming laundry-related article. No Arm & Hammer® detergent was harmed in the making of this picture.|
You see, I won't let anyone else do the laundry. They don't sort the colors out. Stuff gets shrunk or not cleaned properly (eg. whites in hot water is not a concept I can teach). Things aren't folded while hot from the dryer so I don't have to iron them later. (I like ironing, too, but have managed to avoid it for three years: yes, I have a few laundry baskets full of linens that require it.)
|Yes, I collect laundry items, and some I actually use. And no, my laundry room is not always styled and neat as it was for a recent magazine shoot!|
I suppose that I am such a perfectionist that things don't get done unless they are done right. And most of the time, as a wife and mother, that would be me to do it. Yes, I could teach them and they would manage, and some day they'll have to do, but the reality is that I actually enjoy doing the laundry––when I allow myself the pleasure. I know: there is a weird anti-Puritanical madness at work here. Believe me, I know. I also like ironing and organizing cupboards…when I allow myself the pleasure.
'Ideally, one would live as if one were going to die the next day. I mean, if you were going to die the next day it would be well worth sitting and watching the sun set, or rise. It might not be worth doing a huge laundry.'
––May Sarton, interview, The Paris Review
I won't deny it: it's hard for me to multi-task other things while doing the laundry. I don't know why this is. I have a very nice mudroom/laundry room in the doublewide and soon will have a nice big sunlit laundry room/workspace in the cottage across the street. I love to launder, and fold, and smooth, and bring the piles into the bedrooms. It's just the doing it that can be the problem. Or the putting away.
Some of my favorite memories of single life in Boston––when I was paying $366.66 a month for my third of a fifth-floor walkup on Joy Street on Beacon Hill––was my weekly ritual of doing laundry. I would get up, quite early, and be at the laundromat a few blocks away around 6am. Once the laundry was in, the morning sun streaming across the rooftops into the great glass windows of the quiet laundromat, I would pop into the adjacent corner store and get a big cup of coffee and a muffin. My laundry would be done by 8am, I would head back to my apartment to get ready for work, and walk up and over the hill, past the State House, and be at my desk easily by 9am. [In the colder, winter months, I generally brought my laundry home to our farm in New Hampshire. Later, when I unpacked my duffle bag in my apartment, the clothes smelled of clean air and woodsmoke from the farmhouse. They smelled of home.]
So, now that I'm doing laundry for five, my new strategy with motivation in such matters is to blast dance music, really loud, and move and dance while I'm doing it. Sometimes laundry requires a more peaceful approach: classical music or the lulling sounds of NPR newscasters and commentary. Or, I'll throw in some loads, after everyone is in bed, while watching television that I've recorded.
|Kitties on friend Anna's washing machine, located on her back porch.|
You come back when you're ready!
NOTE: I feel compelled to share that, if you don't already know it, May Sarton was a poet and writer who did not have to worry about anyone's laundry but her own. But I love her anyway. Here is a blog I wrote about her over at In the Pantry on January 1, 2010, as it happens: 'A New Year's Renascence' [I highly recommend any of her journals: they are luminous.]