Lessons from the Laundry Pile

It’s gone.  I lost it.  Yes, it is thinning.  The color is faded.  There is a jelly stain on the left shoulder.  There is even a small hole where I snagged it on the raspberry bush that I was trying to plant at dusk that one day when it was warm and everyone was in bed.  The hem is unraveling.  But I still kept it. And now it’s gone.  It’s official: I lost my super mommy cape in the laundry pile.

That laundry pile has a mind of its own.  It has become my nemesis.  My husband bought me two shiny new red weapons to fight the monster, but that was only a temporary fix.  Now I have to fight the monster just to get to the weapons!  It seems to grow every day.  The very sight of it conjures up thoughts of defeat, and surrender follows soon thereafter.  I have tried attacking it with coffee.  That works for a day or so, but then it comes back.

A good friend of mine once said that doing laundry was a lot like stringing beads on a string with no knot on the end.  I must have an extra long string.

As I looked at that pile today, I realize that there is no one else in this house of five that is able to do the laundry.  My husband works long hours so the task rests on my shoulders.  Sometimes this causes resentment.  But today it’s a blessing.  I am the mom.  I am not a perfect mom, but I am THEIR mom.  As I start the never-ending chore, I realize that I am not just doing the laundry, but I am loving my family by serving them.  Muddy socks are from the cold day that we ran from the deck to the trampoline.  Tiny wet panties are from potty training.  The smock with paint on it is from an art project we did to decorate our windows.  A t-shirt with watermelon juice on it is from a picnic lunch in the park.  As I realize this, I reminisce over all the moments this dirty laundry represents.  They are parts of my day that I would not trade for anything.  They are the moments that I have gotten to experience with my kids.

When I was a young mom with only one child, it was very easy to keep up the appearance of the perfect house, the perfect career, the perfect mom, the perfect social calendar.  With two kids, it was a little more challenging but still manageable.  With three, it’s a losing battle.  My house is not dirty by any means, but on a typical day, it is a mess.  There are markers and Play-Doh on the table.  There are blankets and Barbies on the floor.  There are crumbs and sticky spots on the counters.  But there is music in the air.  There is laughter, and love, and happy moments.  Moments with my kids that I will NEVER get back.  Moments to teach them about baby birds, and baking, and mixing paint to make new colors.  My house might not be cleaned up everyday until 9:00 at night, but if you come over during the day, you will feel welcome.  You will feel connected.  You will feel accepted.  I have learned that I am not Super Mom.  Now instead of trying to do everything, I try to do the important things.  For me, that means spending the time that I can with the ones that I love most- teaching, growing, learning together.  You can always expect me to be blowing bubbles or coloring with my kids while they are still little.  You can expect to come over and step over the piles of toys, brush the markers aside, and join me for some coffee and homemade banana bread.  You can expect that I will have time for you.  I won’t even care if you forget your cape.  Just don’t expect the laundry to be done.

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