Tag Archives: motherhood

Airing My Dirty Laundry …

7 Mar
A dirty job ....

A dirty job ….

I recently had a conversation with friends about if we won the lottery what kind of paid help we would have. One friend wanted a personal chef and another wanted someone to straighten her hair every day. I want someone to do the laundry – and do it well. Let me be perfectly clear: I.Hate.Laundry. While all of you reading this may not share my total aversion to the task, no one really loves to do laundry. It’s dirty, it’s thankless, and no sooner are you finished than something else is dirty.

I believe there are two categories of household tasks: those that can evolve into hobbies because there is something creative or pleasurable about them; and those that will not become hobbies because no one in their right mind would spend their free time doing them. Laundry is in the latter category. No one decides to separate lights from darks and spot treat stains for fun.

Household duties that can be considered hobbies have whole industries devoted to them. Think about decorating and cooking – there are magazines, websites, TV channels, stores all to support these hobbies.

There’s no Houzz for laundry. No one posts laundry pics on Pinterest. There’s certainly no laundry channel (although I remember hearing extreme ironing events a few years ago.) Laundry isn’t even shown on television (other than in detergent commercials.) I have watched every episode of Downton Abbey for five seasons, and I have never seen one of the servants do laundry. Cook, clean fireplaces, style hair, get charged with murder – yes, all of that has happened on Downton. Laundry, if it’s been done on Downton, I missed it.

A quick Google search for “laundry” pulls up a list of local dry cleaners and Laundromats, the website for the clothing company Laundry by Shelli Segal, one blog posts on how to organize one’s laundry room, and a 2010 article from Wall Street Journal on Americans using too much laundry detergent. From this list it’s clear that laundry is not a hot topic.

People enjoy receiving cooking-related gifts such as herb infused olive oil, juicers or Williams-Sonoma gift cards, but can you imagine giving someone a bottle of Clorox? Similarly,  your friends appreciate it if you invite them over for dinner – but inviting folks over so you can wash and fold their towels while they sip margaritas, well, that’s not going to happen.

My husband happens to be a good cook, and someone who enjoys cooking. He also is good at doing laundry, but enjoys that less. His recipe for sautéed mushrooms or his technique for rack of lamb may earn him praise from our friends, but no one exclaims “And look how clean his golf shirt is too!!!!” No one asks him for his advice on the best unscented fabric softener. Laundry is a thankless task.

As much as I dislike doing laundry, NOT being able to do laundry is much worse.  I learned this the hard way when our washer died over Thanksgiving two years ago, and it took me more than a week to replace it.  I decided I would take a week’s worth of sheets and towels to our dry cleaner for wash and fold service. I was very excited about picking up two loads of neatly folded sheets and towels until I was told the bill was $60.

So, my next step was to take our clothes to the Laundromat at Cameron Village Shopping Center do the laundry there. I was so clueless at the Laundromat that I stuffed a huge load of dirty clothes into what I thought was a front loading washer that was actually a huge dryer. I figured out my mistake when I could not find a place to pour in the detergent. The guy beside me literally said “You don’t come here often, do you?”

I said at the beginning of this essay that if I could afford it I would hire someone to do the laundry. Well, I had that once – sort of. When my children were younger, I hired a sitter to watch them while I worked, and she told me in the interview that she would do the children’s laundry. Hallelujah!  The answer to prayers!

I soon discovered that although our sitter was very willing to do laundry, she was not very good at it. She did not sort by color, and she washed and dried everything on the hottest setting. My two-year-old’s clothes were now the perfect size for my newborn. Being a nice Southern girl, I didn’t want to hurt her feelings – or be disrespectful since she was 30 years my senior — so I began to hide all the boys’ clothes in the hamper in my room. When it started to overflow, I stuffed dirty clothes under my bed so she couldn’t find them. In my postpartum haze this all seemed like a perfectly good solution.

I imagine there are people who can hire competent people to wash their clothes – for example, Kate Middleton probably has good help. But there are lots of important and influential people who can’t escape the drudgery of laundry. One such person who comes to mind is Carol Greider, a molecular biologist at John Hopkins. A few years ago she received a call at 5 a.m. from Sweden that she had won the Noble Prize for Medicine – when she got the call she was NOT in the lab, NOT sleeping, and NOT out on a run – instead, she was hard at work – you guessed it – folding laundry. With that said, I need to go get a load out of the dryer.

Sponsor Me in the Sleep-a-thon

27 Sep

nap timeIf sleeping was an Olympic sport, then I would be on a Wheaties box.

I have always loved to sleep – and in my 20s, I developed quite a reputation for it. I was the person on girls’ trips who always got her own bed – and sometimes my own room – because I slept later than anyone else. Eleven in the morning was entirely too early for brunch, and I really wished I was Catholic so I could go to church at night.

The problem was that as good as I was at sleeping  until the late morning or early afternoon,  I had a hard time falling asleep at a normal time – like before midnight. I was best at sleeping from 2 a.m. until 10 a.m., but since I wasn’t working as bar tender, that schedule didn’t work out so well for me.

Fast forward to age 39. With two small children, I have been suffering from sleep deprivation for the past 52 months, 2 weeks and 2 days. Because exhaustion is a permanent state of being, I have become like a house cat. I can sleep anywhere, anytime, under any circumstances. If you wake me I will hiss, swat my tail and skulk off. My children have cured my proclivity to lie awake fretting about work deadlines, about what I said after three glasses of wine, or the likelihood that I will get cancer from my mobile phone. I hit the pillow, and I am out.

Because I love to sleep so much – and I am now get to sleep so little – I wish I could escalate sleeping to a hobby rather than simply a basic need. I am a woman who doesn’t have a hobby per se – and while generally I think hobbies are overrated and sometimes downright strange (extreme couponing, rock collecting and macramé come to mind) – I have always felt that I needed a hobby because most people have one. Turning sleep into a hobby – in my opinion – is not a stretch. After all, other basic needs like eating are quite fashionable hobbies. People discuss with great enthusiasm recent restaurants they’ve tried, they plan vacations around dining and Thanksgiving basically revolves around food. That’s not to mention the passion that some people put into cooking – taking cooking classes, investing in cookware that costs more than my freshman year’s tuition – and of course there’s the Food Channel, need I say more. 

I have also thought that sleep should be considered a sport. It’s a physical activity, it’s good for your health, and it makes you look and feel better – just like exercise. As with hobbies, I’ve never really had a sport that was my passion. I have dabbled in everything from ice skating to synchronized swimming, but nothing has really stuck. So I think creating an “a-thon” related to sleeping really makes sense for me. I always try to support friends who are competing in a triathlon for disease X or walk-a-thon for good cause Y … so why not a sleep-a-thon? Of course I would need a cause to raise awareness of and money for. Perhaps under-privileged sleep apnea suffers? Adolescent insomniacs? Those injured while sleep walking?

I would like to have a little spirit and “rah-rah” around my sleep-a-thon efforts. So here are my ideas for building team spirit:

Team Mascot: Sheep; Uniform: Midnight blue pajamas; Fight song: Braham’s lullaby.

I am still trying to come up with a team name, so I would love your suggestions on that.

I hope other people will join me in training for my sleep-a-thon (of course we will all be training individually in our own beds – this is a NONCONTACT sport). I recommend that we start with two events – a sprint and a long distance event. The goal of the sprint will be to fall asleep the fastest; and the gold medal for the long distance event will go to the person who sleeps the longest overnight.

Of course, doping will be absolutely prohibited – no alcohol within 24 hours of game time and no Tylenol PM, Ambien, Melatonin or other sleep aids six months prior of the sleep-a-thon. We need to keep the game clean – this isn’t track and field after all.

I plan to tell my husband that I am going to train for the long distance event every Friday night, and he shouldn’t disturb me until 11 a.m. on Saturday. My sprint training will be Sunday afternoon from 2 until 4 p.m.

If you are interested in participating in the sleep-a-thon or would like to sponsor me, please comment below. Now, since my children are asleep, I think I will squeeze in a quick work out myself. Sweet dreams.

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