Hidden inside the linen closet, across from the hall bathroom in the house my parents purchased in 1962, sat a faded pink hamper that played host to a daily stream of dirty socks, shirts, towels, and jeans. The image of my mother bending over the hamper, sorting the clothes into the designated "whites" and "darks" and carrying them down two flights of stairs to the laundry room 3,000 times a day is permanently emblazoned in my memory.
My mom would "oh so carefully" place the clothes into the washing machine, turn the dial to the appropriate setting based on the color, texture, style, make, and model of the garments in question, then tune in to the soaps to pass the time until the transfer from washer to dryer.
She chose the dryer cycle with the expertise born of experience, making sure nothing ever shrunk or shriveled. Then she tuned in for a relaxing hour of "As the World Turns" until the sound of the buzzer told her it was time to painstakingly remove and fold each precious item with care, lest even one member of her family of five set foot outside in wrinkled clothing.
In my own small family of three, one might think that the use of mountain climbing equipment to get to the top of the laundry pile is completely unnecessary. This is NOT the case.
I will answer with one word.
You see, with every 24-hour cycle, my 16-year old daughter Melissa seems to wear 14 tank tops, 22 sweat shirts, 39 pairs of pants, 274 sweaters, 1,345 pairs of pajamas, and 52,763 pairs of the socks.
In contrast, my loving hubby Bob, devoid of any desire to show off the latest fashions, wears the same two pairs of jeans for days on end before placing them in the "to be washed" pile.
At 6:30 am I take garments of every size, shape, color, and texture and shove them all into the washing machine together, hoping the cold water setting (which I never change) will prevent my red sweater from "bleeding" onto Bob's underpants.
Before I go to sleep that night I transfer the clothes into the dryer.
The next morning I pull the clothes I want to wear out of the dryer and leave the rest in there, telling myself I'll hang and iron them later.
Later that day Melissa takes the laundry and throws the entire unfolded, now wrinkled pile onto the top of the dryer, picks out the clothes she needs, and leaves the rest for me to fold.
That evening, I venture into the laundry room, throw in another load, steal a quick glance at the rumpled bundle still sitting on top of the dryer and - as I imagine accepting the honor as House Wife of the Year - ignore the clothes and climb into bed.
Repeat steps 1 through 5.
I have often wondered, as I routinely stare with disgust at my own, never-ending mound of dirty clothes, why my mother never demanded that my dad or any of her three children help with this daily duty.
Finally, I posed the question.
"Mom, why didn't you pick me up by the nape of my neck and make me do my own laundry?" I asked, thinking about motivational techniques to get Melissa to embrace the joys of washing her own clothes.
"Well," she sighed. "I had my routine, it was just easier to do it myself."
For the record....I DO NOT SHARE HER SENTIMENTS!
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