Taking a load off

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I had plans to write about how inspiring it is to be the cool mom who raves about how comfortable we are in our lived-in home.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get to that writing assignment, because I was too busy screaming like a banshee at those dearest to me over a pile of shoes and laundry. Tears work just as well as vinegar when cleaning, right?

Teen helpers

GirlWonder, who I should go on record as saying is a gem, is just about ready to pack up and live like a gypsy. Maybe a cute tent or something she can carry on her back. She and BoyWonder do their share.

In fact, I suspect, based on the shock and awe of my peers, they do an awful lot more than some people think is strictly necessary for teenagers to do. From chopping firewood (yes, really), mowing and scrubbing to hauling, cooking, cleaning and grocery shopping, too. They are good kids and our family really hums along as a team — sometimes. When it doesn’t — look out.

Or not

Some days, we are a well-oiled machine. Other days, the machine is buried under a pile of shoes, laundry and dishes. We are a family of centipedes based on the shoes piled by the door. I know it’s a blessing to have a home and family to create such a mess, but I’m not going to lie. Some nights, when I trip over the shoes — but, fortunately, have the laundry there to catch me — it’s hard to feel blessed.

The other night, our son and two guests huddled around a small, clean spot on the kitchen counter, making hot dogs on an indoor grill. Not my finest moment as a hostess.

Laundry mountain

In all honesty, I have kicked around the idea of hiring a cleaning lady. I don’t struggle with cleaning. I can run the vacuum, mop and scrub bathrooms, no problem. My personal summit is a mountain of laundry. I just can’t seem to get it all done at once.

When did laundry become so complicated? Growing up, I learned early to do laundry. I put a scoop of detergent in the washer and pushed a button. At some point, we may have gotten fancy and added fabric softener to the mix. Probably not though. Who could remember to add it? My great-grandmother used bleach sometimes. The faint smell of Clorox on sheets still makes me think of home.

Not your grandma’s laundry

Today, the laundry product aisle looks like a chem lab. There are products to pre-treat, treat, soak, a treatment for colors, another for dark clothes, scent boosters, fabric softeners and wrinkle releasers. I can just hear my grandmother saying that in her day a wrinkle releaser was called an “iron.”  In our case, we have family members who are allergic to artificial scents and dyes so our clean linen is just that.

So many chores

The other night, GirlWonder said she didn’t mind helping with the chores, but wondered, exasperated, why are there so many of them?  The truth? There aren’t more chores than there were before, there are just more of us doing them.

It was almost easier, in some respects, when one person — Mom — handled most of the housekeeping. Things got done on my schedule when I did them. They were done to my liking, too. As a parent, however, I feel it is my job to prepare them for the real world. In the world we live in, and that they are likely to encounter, they need to learn to carry their own load  — that includes loads of laundry.

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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.

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