I’m writing this post from Mt. Laundry.
Typically mountain views are stunning, but this… from the base, I look up and all I see is chaos. Once delightfully fluffy sheets lay sadly wrinkled across the back of my couch. Mateless socks are everywhere amidst dish towels and sports bras. One delicate tissue tee that somehow snuck into the dryer has been cast aside to the Goodwill pile, shrunk far past definition (or, at least past my ability to acceptably wear it). A lone loofah, having rolled off the mountain, sits across the living room, dangerously close to the dog’s toy box.
I’m considering a quick break to fold just a few sheets – or at least fluff them in
the dryer so I can fold them when I’m done blogging – but honestly, I’ve learned my lesson by now. There’s never just a “quick touch-up” when it comes to the laundry. The cliché phrase is “Go big or go home”, but I know here that it’s “Go big or give up” – hence the pile that faces me. I always start this dreadful domestic task with the best of intentions, but somewhere between the “pre-rinse” and “more dry” cycles I lose my motivation, get distracted or simply forget and end up with a dryer full of wrinkled clothes and a wash load that needs to be washed – again. You’d think one person wouldn’t be capable of creating such a spectacular mess of clean clothes, but my anal-retentive nature and love of dryer sheets has made me a one-woman wonder when it comes to laundry.
There are certainly more troubling things in life than too many bleached whites. Too many white cats – that would be a major detriment to my daily suited attire. Gout – not much explanation required there. Trying to sell cartridges and toner over the phone – I mean, you know you’re scamming your “customers”, and how many times can you hear “no” in one day?! But I find that as far as domestic dilemmas go, the seemingly innocuous laundry ends up being a major factor in the way I live my life. I mean, can I invite friends over for an impromptu gathering after work when there’s the possibility that my delicate underthings may be hanging rather conspicuously out to dry in the public areas of my humble abode? No, no I cannot. Well, I mean I could – but it would really depend on the friends. And the condition of the underthings. And where should my guests – even if they were willing to overlook the pile of panties – sit down to enjoy a glass of wine where there are at least two sets of perfectly clean sheets who have made themselves right at home on the couch? The simple solution would be to sweep the laundry into the dryer – where it would conveniently reside for that critical re-fluffing post gathering – however the dryer is more often than not full of either excess paperwork* or yet a separate load of lights or darks not yet folded.
*I’ll expand upon this one in a later post.
I find that when I get overwhelmed by the house and all the tasks that go along with maintaining it, I tend to do one of two things:
- Let the piles continue to grow until I literally have no other clothes and must dig into them to obtain clean socks, or
- Hole myself up at home in a frenetic attempt to Get Things Under Control.
And in the case of #2, worse than having a pile of clothes awaiting me every day upon arrival home (which, for the record, makes me crazy), I realize that while I’m madly folding, fluffing and stuffing my too many towels into tight linen boxes, my friends that I elected not to invite over are out together having wine and not giving a damn about their own domestic demons. I always realize this much too late – usually after several hours of hard laundry labor – and become resentful, not toward them but toward myself. I get frustrated by the juxtaposition of my personality: if I was more organized in the first place, I wouldn’t have this problem – and yet if I was less OCD I’d be able to let it go long enough to enjoy life in the meantime.
I don’t know how the housewives of the 50s and 60s kept it all together, but kudos to any woman who successfully juggled a baby (or three), a barrage of daily housework, any kind of meal preparation and the possibility of entertaining not only a hard-working husband but perhaps also his business colleagues and their wives – which she wouldn’t have known ahead of time given the lack of cellular telephones. What was the secret, ladies – you weren’t working full time, blogging, volunteering, assistant coaching, tutoring, mentoring, carpooling, counseling, honing your active hobbies, triathaloning, raising children on your own and continually pursuing your personal development as a woman, friend, wife, mother and professional? Of course not. I mean no disrespect to the women of another time – but indeed, it was another time, and the pressures of maintaining oneself were seemingly less than maintaining one’s home. As a single woman now, the demands on my life – whether self-imposed or imposed upon me by the expectation of a young professional woman in our current society – do not always allow me to lead said life in as pristine a fashion as I’d like, nor should that be the goal. Perhaps if I had less expectation for myself that my home look like a Pottery Barn catalogue (ha!) and more focus on the things that really matter, I’d give myself a little break – and possibly be even more productive in the end.
Tonight I’m going to tackle Mt. Laundry, but I’m only anticipating hitting the first base camp before I turn in, have a glass of wine, and take a moment to call a friend. Really, I’m the only one at the moment who’s going to see it, so I’m going to just accept that…and let it go. And the next time I hesitate before inviting friends over due to the pile of ironing residing on my kitchen table, I’m going to just extend the invitation anyway, and welcome them in the door with a glass of wine and smile. At the end of the day, does anyone really look much beyond that?