What is this horrifying plot, you ask? I refer to….brace yourself….
If, at this point, you think I am being overly dramatic, you are obviously not the person responsible for laundry in your household. Or, perhaps you do not have a million children. Whatever. Please feel free to stop reading and continue eating your bonbons in peace.
People. The battle against laundry has been lost, long ago. It is no longer a task to be accomplished, no longer a chore to be done. It has mutated into its own life force. (I have a theory that such a mutation was made possible by the amazingly powerful stench that now emanates from the dirty clothes of my pre-teen children – GIRLS, no less! – but I haven’t had a chance to prove this, scientifically speaking.)
This life force is most assuredly not a benevolent one. Oh no, my friends. It is malevolent. It lives to destroy us, through any means necessary. (Though since it lacks limbs, those means will probably involve slowly burying us alive, or possibly gassing us to death with the aforementioned stench…)
It is never-ending, endless, soul-sucking repetition. And it is warping my brain. I used to be a (mostly) reasonable, intelligent person. Now, I stand in my laundry room muttering curses at little lacy shirts that have the gall to demand hand-washing. REALLY, lacy shirts?! You’re going to be all high-maintenance and sassy?? My warped brain spins as I try to recall who bought my children these oh-so-darling outfits, so that I can be sure to repay their incredible thoughtfulness next Christmas with something similarly easy to care for, like a box of puppies. Or I saturate the legs of jeans with stain remover as I wonder how it is humanly possible for a child out of elementary school to get marker on clothing during an art project. Seriously? Who is this kid, Jackson Pollack?! I’d better be going to a gallery opening ten years from now…
I’m telling you. It’s turning me into a crazy person. And it’s not my fault. Laundry could be a plausible legal defense, and probably a successful one if there were enough mothers on a jury. The last thing I remember is starting my seventh load of laundry that day…everything after that is a blur…
There are brief moments of clarity, of lovely lucid thought, as I fold the eleventh pair of little pink panties. There are jolts of joy, utterly irrational, when a lonesome polka-dotted sock is miraculously reunited with its mate. Yes, it is highly probable that these moments are their own signs of insanity, their own little cries for help. I’ll grant you that. And yet…
It’s been said that humans have an innate need to assign meaning to their activities, even to those activities that seem inherently meaningless. Some see this as foolishness, this desire to find significance in the insignificant. But what if that desire was born not from emptiness, but from that thing within us that connects us to the divine completeness? What if we search for meaning because it’s actually there, hidden in plain sight?
Because, really…endless loads of laundry aren’t endless. There will come a day when there will be far fewer dirty clothes to wash, far fewer clean warm clothes to pull from the dryer and fold. The million children will not be children anymore, and – God willing – they will have their own place to do their own laundry (which, to be clear, will not be MY laundry room).
So perhaps the meaning has something to do with love, and service, and the prayers that can be said over little stained pants and socks that will never find a mate, for the growing legs and arms and feet that will wear them out of our warm safe house and into a sometimes cold and scary world. Or maybe it has to do with how God must feel when He scrubs the same dirty sins off me that I came to Him with yesterday, and the day before, and a million days before that, and how He keeps cleaning and forgiving even when it would seem hopeless to anyone else.
Or maybe all of the above, and more that my laundry-warped brain hasn’t come up with yet.
So, keep up the good fight, my fellow laundry-doers. And don’t let that pile of dirty clothes fool you – it has nefarious plans to smother you in your sleep. I’m onto you, stinky socks!