It really does all come out in the wash

I don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble or make them question the beliefs they hold dear and the meaning of life, but I do think it’s time we set the record straight. I can no longer live this lie and neither should you. Let us come clean on a universal truth: You will never, ever be “caught up” on laundry. Ever.

I can, on the rarest of occasions, have the entire three floors of our home plus basement plus porch, and sometimes even the patio, clean at the same time. This usually involves hosting a large gathering, party or other social anxiety-causing event. The prospect of people seeing how we really live can usually kick me into gear.

I have state of the art laundry equipment and a laundry room immediately adjacent to my workspace. Even the most dedicated sloth among us (and I am a charter member of the Sloth Club) can’t fail to take the six steps required to switch a load. What I never have, however, is all the laundry caught up at the same time.

Someone in this family is always running around in a towel (that is, if they can find one?) looking for a matching pair of socks, soccer shorts or the shirt they wore last week.

Hide

Speaking of towels, clean, dry towels are rarer than Sasquatch sightings these days. There is some sort of aging process, like fine wine, required of towels.

The other day I had most of the laundry “caught up” (a relative term) and yet there was not a single clean towel for the upstairs bath. We peered into empty hampers. No towels.

How does this happen? I’ll tell you how. I must have picked up a half dozen damp towels from the dressing room floor. Yet another perk of living in an old house with a kitchen the size of a thumbtack but a handful of odd space to make up for it — we have a dressing room. I think that is early Victorian for “place to hide wet towels.”

Swimsuits also have some sort of shelf life. They get left to dry on a variety of things, from railings to heirloom furniture (the latter just to watch mama’s head fly off). Only when they are dried stiff and either half bleached with chlorine or reeking of ripe lake water (or in our pool a combo of both) do we actually put them through the washer.

I have tried to expedite the laundry process. I gave up on sorting and just toss everything in together (blasphemy!) I also use our washer as a sort of default hamper.

Never empty

I’ve been known to slam the door, push the buttons, and start a load without even looking to see if there is really anything in there. This is because there is ALWAYS something in there. It has been 17 years since there wasn’t something in there.

I recall the early years of spit up stains and impossibly tiny baby clothes. That gave way to pee wee uniforms and more impossibly tiny socks — often handed out in increments of one precious pair per player. Now it is uniforms, dress clothes and “favorite” shirts. Woe befall the person preparing for a date if the exact shirt they want is not clean.

No longer do I fish infant socks out of the lint basket. Now the socks are bigger than mine and the jeans of Boywonder could easily be mistaken for those of his father. Sometimes the clothes tumbling through belong to other people. I handle hoodies with kid gloves, like I’m washing a wedding dress rather than a championship sweatshirt on loan from a “special someone.”

Metaphor

In truth I think there is a metaphor to laundry. Unless an entire family is standing around naked while you do laundry, it will never be all done. If you’re lucky there will always be a next load in progress. This can be frustrating, dirty, sometimes labor intensive and always requires both patience and effort.

This may seem like a vicious (wash) cycle but what it really is — is the good life.

About the Author

Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless. More Stories by Kymberly Foster Seabolt

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