Monday, June 09, 2008

Textile management

I've never really enjoyed doing laundry.
I really wish I was one of those people who got satisfaction from cleaning clothes.
It is the one job in my household I can truly say I dread.
I'll clean bathrooms.
Wash dishes.
Deep clean.
And enjoy it.
But laundry? I dread it.
It's such a time consuming job that never ends. Sort clothes. Wash clothes. Fold clothes. Put up clothes. Repeat ad nauseum.

In college, learning this homemaking art, my theory was "do the laundry when you've run out of underwear."
Needless to say, it turned into a big job.
I've tried all kinds of textile management.
Hanging my clothes on the line so I could get that fresh air smell on my clothes. (I do like it, but it still made me dislike doing laundry.)
Using yummy smelling detergent.
Doing it all on one day. (Impossible and tiring.)
Doing it everyday. (Manageable, but still hate it.)
Making my laundry room a pretty place to be.
Doling it out to children. (To a small extent, this helps, but I'm still ultimately responsible to micro-manage it all.)
Fewer clothes. (It works, but with 6 people, you still get a lot of laundry.)

But I did find something that's made me look at laundry in a different way. To see it as a worthy chore:

Even so seemingly non transcendent an act as putting clothing away can be a gesture of memory or of hope. We put laundry away in drawers and closets in the expectation that another day or season will come when we will need those things again. We pack away baby clothes in boxes in the hope that another child or grandchild will be added to the family or that an opportunity will come to pass things along to others who will use them. We save articles of clothing that belonged to a loved one who died, remembering the body that used to be clothed in these things and hoping for the day when our bodies and theirs will finally be truly, gloriously clothed.~Margaret Kim Peterson Keeping House: The Litany of Everyday Life

Doing laundry is symbolic of hope in our family. Hope that a body will be here tomorrow to wear the folded garments. After reading this quote, I see laundry for my family is a privilege, not a burden. I may still not enjoy it, but I will see the good in it.


Sara said...

You never fail to amaze me with your insights...what a fabulous way of thinking. xxoo

Jen said...

This is my first comment, yet I've been reading and loving your posts. I have been struggling with laundry, such an insignificant issue to be struggling with, but I get discouraged when I can manage every other part of the household chores and can't figure out the clothing aspect! I'm finding it a heavy chore and it wasn't always. I'm going to take this new outlook and see if it lightens the load. Thank you for sharing so much with us.

P.S. He loves you... said...

Wow...I know this was supposed to cross my path!
I never thought of "viewing" the dreaded chore in this way!
Thanks for posting and sharing this, now I may just tackle it differently this next time!

Blessed to have read this!

Susan L said...

I really like this! Your last line says it all-- if we could take that attitude into all of the tasks that we just can't seem to view as pleasant, it will make things much nicer. Your words about hope made me think of this:

"Work without hope draws nectar in a sieve,
And hope without an object cannot live." (Coleridge)


:..Rebekah..: said...

Oh, I like that quote too....especially since I just finished folding some laundry. :)

Jennifer, Snapshot said...

I was reading this wondering, "Does anyone get satisfaction out of laundry?" but when I read the list of your other chores, I actually find laundry less tedious than the others.

Mrs Wibbs said...

Yes! Amen... I love this!

Do you have a similar quote for putting clean sheets on beds? That is my most hated household chore. I guess I could probably come up with one myself, if I thought long and hard about it.
Really, it's all about being grateful, and seeing beauty in the mundane.

Thank you sister
With love
Rachel :)

Brenda said...

Oh Andrea, I so needed to hear that. I have tried almost everything on that list you have tried. Currently working on making my laundry room a prettier place to be....but knowing that won't make me yearn to be there.

But OH...this is different. I may have to put that up on my wall above my washer and dryer.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

gloriously clothed.
i love it.
good night, friend, + thanks.

MyKidsMom said...

I actually don't mind laundry that much (call me strange) but I love this thought anyway. Sometimes it really IS all about how we view things. Thanks for sharing this.

L.L. Barkat said...

Yup. I felt the same way when I read that. LOVED her book. As you say, I didn't come away feeling a new delight in the tasks per se , but I did feel a new sense of inspiration, affirmation, and privilege. What a gift Peterson has given with her simple but profound book!

Tammy said... now I'll try ever so hard to view my laundry for six dirty people in a new light. My washing machine has been quiet too long today and my dryer just gave me a nice little warning bell that the clothes are wrinkling while I type. Seriously - I love your outlook and check your blog daily. Thank you!

Beverly said...

Andrea, like so many other things you have shared, I'll be typing this up. And yes, I will hang it above my washer and dryer. Thank you once again!

MacCárthaigh Family said...

No, but really... Get kids and husband to share the chore????

Anonymous said...

Andrea, I loved this post. Surely, it is a great privilege to serve our families. I remember being so impressed when I read Nancy Campbell's encouragement to mothers that Jesus came to serve and not to be served. Mary Brooke

laurel said...

Great post, Andrea...wonderful insight. I love to read your blog and always leave feeling soothed and encouraged.

Jess said...

Thanks for those great thoughts, Andrea.

Anonymous said...

I love this book - it is one of my very favorite books of all time, I think. The whole thing was well-crafted, beginning to end. I love that quote, but the whole book was equally inspiring!

Anonymous said...

Clean clothes BLESS your family!! I just hang on to that...

RMyers said...

Wonderful thoughts. You have a great site! I found you through biblicalwomanhood, noblewomanhood and have to say I will be back again!

Thanks for inspiring a kinder attitude towards that dreaded chore!

Blessings to you and yours