Every single time I have time off I enter into a debate with myself: do the laundry immediately or wait until the day before going back to work to do it. This is symbolic, do I wash my work clothes and put them away, representing a close to the work week. Or should I wait to do it all with my vacation clothes, representing the close of the vacation. You should know that I often have this debate as I am loading my work clothes into the washer. The debate is more of a formality maybe a ritual, not really a debate at all.
Yesterday I was thinking about work, clothes, lunches, groceries, the usual process for getting ready to restart the work/school cycle after time off, especially holiday time off, when I heard the usual war cry from the girls: “we have no socks.” This, too, is symbolic. There are socks, they are everywhere, tucked under couch cushions, in corners, in shoes, under tables, they are everywhere. I sent them to get their dirty laundry from all over the house.
They returned with six overflowing, completely stuffed laundry bags of filthy clothes.
Apparently the laundry debate skipped this generation.
I don’t like having things hanging over my head, I cannot fully enjoy my vacation or down time knowing that I will be coming home to work before going back to work. My kids don’t feel that at all. They kept looking at me like, what? we still have the whole weekend to get this together, what’s the problem? And they even suggested that it didn’t need to be completely finished prior to returning to school. I could feel my entire family tree rolling over in their graves.
We sorted, we spot treated, we matched outfits, we did seven extra large loads of laundry and a few specialty cycles. We talked about how this was a daunting task and how we could break it down for the future so that it wouldn’t be so overwhelming and wouldn’t consume a whole day of vacation. They suggested that doing three loads during the week takes up more time than seven on one day, that it spread the dread so to speak.
It hit me, they weren’t daunted by this epically ridiculous amount of laundry. They didn’t see this as growing, looming work, tasks needing to be completed, or anything symbolic at all. It was just a means to an end of getting clean clothing back into their drawers and closets.
I would like to type that I giggled, saw their point, acquiesced admitting to my rigidity and am now encouraging them to self determine how and when they do their own laundry.
That would not be accurate.
We completed the laundry. It has all been taken care of properly. We set up sorters and a schedule so that I can rest easy, they truly do not care, knowing that there isn’t a mountain of laundry growing somewhere in the house to be taken care of at the last minute. While this never was a problem for them, we solved it together, for now. I have every hope that this will evolve into something we can all live with.
For me the great debate will continue, I will wonder as I load my work clothes into the washer the second I get home if I should do it then or wait. The symbolism and ritual are significant to me. What is a great debate in your life that when you look at it objectively, isn’t a debate at all, it is more of a ritual of some significance?