03 October 2009


I would include pictures with this, but they would frighten you. Suffice it to say, that I have a lot of laundry. Every so often I beat it into submission (a really big stick helps), and by the next afternoon it is winning the race again. I haven't figured out how that happens.

It doesn't bother me as much as some mothers. Laundry actually is one household chore I don't really mind. I mean, really, you toss stuff in the machine, press a button, and come back later to clean clothes. Then you toss it in another machine, press another button, and come back later to dry clothes. Maybe because I'm a history buff, and know a lot about how washing clothes has changed over the years, I have a hard time getting too worked up about laundry. (The chore that I really abhor is cleaning the kitchen.) I do have to admit, though, that as simple as the actual washing of clothes is, my laundry still breeds in dark corners, and creeps across the floor in a not-so-subtle attempt to take over the entire house.

Where do all these clothes come from? How can one family of five possibly need this many clothes? (Whoa, "family of five" sounds so...huge. When did that happen?)

Then there are the stains. I used to swear by Zout. I had never used it and not had it work. Then, shortly after Monkey1 was born, it stopped working. I don't know if they changed the formula, or if it was the nature of my stains that changed, but it doesn't work for me anymore. I just switched out our summer clothes, and threw away five or six of Monkey2's things, that were just too grubby to keep...and all of Monkey3's undershirts/nightshirts. I wasn't going to insult anyone by trying to pass them along. They were...well, not gross. I mean, they were clean. But you could see evidence of several meals, and more than one afternoon in the dirt pile, all over them.

Stains make me crazy. Clothes are expensive, and I get so tired of having nothing presentable to go anywhere in. I'll buy a shirt, and then tuck it into the back of my closet for some mythical "date night" in the future, because I know that if I put it on at any other point than ten seconds before I walk out the door, alone, (and even that is dangerous, five would be better), it will instantly be spattered with something that won't wash out. Then one afternoon I'll grab it in desperation because everything else I have to wear looks dirty, even though it isn't...and ten seconds later, the new shirt has irremovable spots all over it, too. Apparently motherhood doesn't wash out very well.

It's not just my clothes, either. Some days I toy with the idea of just letting the children run about, naked, until they're old enough to get jobs, do their own laundry, and buy their own clothes. Or I'll leave them in their pajamas so their clothes don't get dirty. That's how Monkey3's undershirts wound up headed for the trash. I know I'm not the only mother who makes her children (ok, just the youngest, we're not TOTALLY uncivilized) strip before eating anything with spaghetti sauce in it. I should do that when Monkey2 drinks hot chocolate too, because it's always all down her front. And chocolate (surprised?) doesn't wash out.

So in the midst of all the craziness with clothes that are dirty, don't fit, or are stained, it was a blessing to come across this post, and remember what all of that means. That really, dirty clothes are symptomatic of a life that overflows with many wonderful things, too. I'm posting that prayer over my washing machine, and possibly in the kitchen and dining room, too. To remind me that stains represent something else. And for that, I am very grateful.

Here's the prayer:

A Laundry Prayer


Thank you for this pile of laundry.

Thank you
that my house is filled with people whom I love
who have health and vigor enough to get dirty,
who live and laugh well in their clothes,
which you have provided.

Thank you
for machines to help me wash and dry,
for the little hands that help me fold,
for the closets and drawers to hold what is clean.

Thank you
for baby drool on my t-shirts
and chocolate milk spots on my daughter's playdress,
for the endless parade of dirty work socks in my husband's boots.
These things are the footprints of blessing
and if those footprints are at times muddy,
it is a grace that we may tidy up in their path.


  1. oh dear! i feel the same about laundry. i think about all the crazy labor they put into making clothes clean...it really seems too simple now.

    i hope you aren't feeling to overwhelmed

  2. So true! We rarely have clean clothes to wear to go anywhere...
    I've been blaming it on my ancient washing machine in hopes that for Christmas I'll get a shiny new one. =/


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