Saturday, September 15, 2012

Airing Dirty Laundry

It may come as no surprise to you that I can be a little OCD about laundry, given how (manageably) OCD I am about so many other things in my life. I'm just a wee bit . . .  particular.

As our household has gotten smaller (our two daughters have now moved out), I have finally taken back the chore of doing laundry. During the years when it was one of the children's chores, I tolerated a more "normal" standard of laundering.

[Incidentally, this is actually a "Gratitude Journal" entry. This month's prompt was "rituals," about finding joy in the mundane.]

Here is how I like my laundry done:

  • All in one day: washed, dried, folded, and put away.
  • Laundry immediately folded and taken out of the dryer as soon as it buzzes, so the clothes don't get perma-wrinkled.
  • Occasionally, a little bleach in the whites. 
  • Attention to oily spots or potential stains before they go in the wash.
  • Shirts, pants, and underwear tidily folded. I used to bundle socks for everyone, but I no longer do that, though I pair my own.
  • Each person's laundry stacked separately.
  • Dresses and button-down shirts hung up immediately, rather than folded.
This all seems patently reasonable to me, but you would be surprised at what a challenge this is to a teenager. Or maybe you wouldn't.

Even teenagers with a touch of OCD themselves roll their eyes when I harp about dashing to the dryer as soon as it buzzes.

So although I won't try to convince you that I enjoy doing laundry, I will say that I find it satisfying. I am content when I see the clothes folded and stacked all wrinkle-free. I feel good about having the whole process wrapped up in one day. I like having that one chore scratched off my to-do list.

Yes, that is dryer lint. I am posting this picture not because it is particularly beautiful, but because it reminded me of an anecdote. So I will leave you with this story.

When I was in grade one or two, we were learning about fossils. Our teacher encouraged us to look for them and, if we found any, to bring them in to share with the class.

I really wanted to please my teacher, but in suburbia, the fossil-hunting really isn't all that good. And somehow, I missed the essential fact that fossils are stone.

One day, I proudly showed my teacher the fossil I had found. She looked perplexed and lifted the feathery weight in her hand. She asked where I had found it.

When I revealed that it had been conveniently located on our basement floor beside the washer and dryer, she realized that she was holding a wad of compressed dryer lint. She couldn't help laughing, of course, though she didn't mock me. Miraculously, neither did any of my classmates.

I have yet to find a fossil, though my mother-in-law is an avid paleontologist and has successfully taken our children fossiling. I understand that leaving the house is one of the key prerequisites.

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