Winter laundry has begun

 

We’ve been together for some time now.

I am older, hopefully wiser.

You are…bigger. You contain multitudes. A multitude of lonely socks, tulle-lined toddler dresses, worn out t-shirts, shorts from the summer’s last gasps and My Little Pony underpants.

We’ve both been through a lot. I’ve had three kids, and you too have had babies. All over our house. Smaller sub-piles of laundry on bedroom floors and tossed in front of the washing machine. Are they clean? Are they dirty? No one knows, but they are yours.

You’ve given so much to us.

A receptacle for decisions we are not ready to make — is this sweater Emilia’s? Or is it Grace’s now? For today, it is the basket’s.

You offer yourself up as an inviting pile on my bed, soft with sweatpants and swimming towels, begging for children to jump in. “Wait! I’m going to fold that!” I cry, but we both know that’s not true. And my 3-year-old has already turned you into a nest.

You also take, cruelly. Mercilessly. You conceal single socks, consume my favorite v-neck tees, disguise kitchen towels as bathroom towels and hide beloved 9-month baby outfits until the baby is 12-months-old. Where is that one bra that actually fits me when I’m still sort of nursing but also sort of weaning? I need that. Please.

I’ve tried to quit you. I’ve tried to strategize, organize and Pinterest you out of existence. I’ve hidden you behind closed doors, moved you around the house and stuffed you into duffle bags (only once, or twice). I’ve considered handing you over to Matt completely, willing to trade even the most undesirable Matt Chore™ in order to escape you.

Every once in a while — rarely — I fold you. And rarer still, I put you away, standing back, sighing with relief and admiring my accomplishment like I’ve just climbed Everest or painted the Sistine Chapel or something. And for one shining moment, we are in our designated places. Baskets are empty, drawers are full and balance is restored.

But you come back. You always do.

And when you return, I am frustrated, confounded, claustrophobic. But I am also grateful. Grateful for a companion who gives me an excuse to sit on the floor and watch TV when the house is sleeping. “I’ll be up in a minute. I need to take care of the laundry,” I say, folding the same pair of pants over and over until Chip and Joanna reveal their finished product. They worked hard, and I am working hard-ish.

And I am grateful for the comfort you provide. The world is crazy. Life is changing. The kids are growing up so quickly, but you are a constant. You will always be with me.

Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to just…push…you…into…this closet. We have friends coming over, and they’ll never understand us.

***

Catherine Kraemer writes twice a month for Momaha.com. She and her husband, Matt, are the parents of three young girls – Emilia, 5, Grace, 3 and Phoebe, 1. Originally from St. Louis, Catherine lives in Omaha and works at a local advertising agency.

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