Thursday, April 14, 2011

Shock and horror and bachelor gray

I had a sad epiphany the other day while scrubbing spoiled soy milk out of a recovered sippy cup. I realized that if I actually put forth the effort, I could spend my entire day either at the kitchen sink or the laundry room. As fast as I can wash dishes, my kids can dirty them faster, a constant cycle of plastic cups and snack bowls, princess silverware and full-sized plates that were apparently necessary for a single mini pretzel twist.

What food doesn’t end up in them ends up on them which takes me to my second treadmill position of household duty: the laundry. By far it is the chore I complain about the most, which is why after a week of buildup that filled every laundry basket we own, I pouted on the couch and whined instead of hauling it all to the washer.

And while I’m not so good at actually accomplishing the laundry, I’m quite good at whining so when my dear husband showed up with a giant heap of stinky clothes, I felt an internal smile coming on.

Doing the laundry is not something he normally does, and not because I don’t ask or because he protests. It’s just the system of housework we’ve figured out over the years. He straightens the garage, hauls the wood, and cleans the dogs. I complain about the laundry while I do the dishes until we run out of socks and finally break down and do it.

So when he began to take over my duty, I was a little shocked. (I also was a little worried I’d have to clean the garage, but that quickly passed.) After the shock passed, the horror set in. By horror, I’m referring to the way he went about doing the laundry.

For one, there was no such thing as separating by color. I bit my lip as I saw a white t-shirt still tucked inside a red sweatshirt go into the same load as a light blue dress shirt. I saw jeans and light colored shirts swarming with black socks. When he wasn’t looking I tried to save a few things, but was already imagining casualties of our casuals.

Also, the load sizes were so large we could have probably used a wheelbarrow to haul them into the laundry room.

But as the saying goes in marriage, never bite the hand that helps with the laundry and certainly never look a gifted load of freshly washed whites in the mouth. I knew that the right thing to do would be to let him finish the job he was so wonderfully kind to do while I toddled off to wash a few more thousand plastic cups.

Life was good for a while, pretty good indeed. We had broken the rules and he was kind enough to keep me from having to complain all day about un-wadding socks and turning shirts right-side out. He even changed a few loads in record time and I was impressed that even though he might have needed to refer to a color chart for separating, his load time was remarkable.

A few hours later, I peeked in to get a glimpse with my own eyes at what week’s worth of laundry looks like without having passed my hands. And there it was, a pile of unfolded clothes, some stained, some shrunken. All washed in hot water on a speed cycle and not dried quite enough so that for sure the pockets of our pants would be damp for days. Perfect.

That hand that helps with laundry should never be bitten, but it should also be shaken in congratulations. The whole ordeal really was a win-win situation for both of us—for me, I didn’t technically have to do the laundry. For him, he was banned from the duty ever again, which may have been his evil plan all along.

And so it goes, I tossed some shirts and re-laundered some pants. And while un-wadding socks I had another epiphany: I should start whining more about the dishes.

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