|No matter how much laundry I do, the piles just keep growing.|
What felt like mere minutes after my twins climbed aboard their first-grade-bound bus the other morning, the school nurse called to say my daughter had vomited in her classroom. Picturing the public splatter, I felt sorry for Georgia. But I also felt sorry for myself.
I saw puked-on pillowcases and towels teeming up in my future, adding to the already monstrous piles of grass-stained sweatpants and peanut-butter-smeared shirts that crouch in every corner of our house with the dust bunnies. I constantly fill and empty the washing machine, fold pajamas, socks and pants and shove them into drawers. But despite the fact that I am nearly always doing laundry, I cannot seem to dig out from under our ever-expanding mountain of soiled garments. I am resentful about these Sisyphean tasks and not very adept at accomplishing them—though this may not be entirely my fault.
I seem to recall my mother, who must have skipped most of her home economics classes, dumping the hamper onto her bed and shouting to us to retrieve what was ours. And although I enjoyed dropping my trousers into the black hole of our old-fashioned laundry chute and charging downstairs to see them land on the kitchen floor, this pastime, while entertaining, did little to improve my wash-and-fold skills.
Even now in middle age, with a family of my own, I often fail to separate the lights from the darks. I usually forget to scrape the lint tray. I do not own an iron.
Furthermore, while pregnant with our youngest, I chose to turn the upstairs laundry room into a nursery, overpaying our plumber to hook the washer and dryer back up in the basement. This was probably shortsighted since all Jane does in the berth I so considerately vacated for her is suck her fingers and occasionally wet her bed, and I now spend an inordinate amount of time cleaning her sheets and the rest of the family’s dirty underwear in our spider-infested cellar.
Needless to say, I begrudgingly received the sack containing Georgia’s barfed-on top from the school nurse the other morning. I was also dismayed to see that my daughter was wearing someone else’s baggy T-shirt, yet another item for me to wash and damage. But by the time we reached home, I had come to terms with the fresh, stinking mounds of laundry I now faced and shook chunks of regurgitated grape tomatoes and stick pretzels—the contents of Georgia’s snack—from her shirt into the garbage, before tossing it with the borrowed tunic into the washing machine.
The fact that Georgia protested about the starvation diet of Saltines and broth that I offered her throughout that afternoon, eventually demanding a bowl of cereal for dinner, was obviously a blessing. I was happy Georgia was feeling better. I was even happier to be spared further wash.
My relief, however, proved premature.
Georgia did not throw up again, but she must have conspired with her siblings. Jane saturated her comforter and sheets overnight. And at about 5 a.m., our dog bounded off our bed to relieve himself on a nearby rug.
Practice had taught me that our machine could just handle all of my 3-year-old’s bedding at once. But after that load was done, I couldn’t quite crush the befouled carpet into our washer, no matter how hard I tried. Plus, it was an expensive Persian I had purchased with department store credit from returned wedding gifts of china I had registered for and ultimately decided I hated.
Tired, grumpy and out of ideas, I spent the rest of the morning shivering on our deck as I swatted the urine-stained rug with a rag and daydreamed about the distant future when I would have fewer creatures under my care—and fewer piles of laundry to go before I slept.