Never Ending Laundry

If getting into Heaven depended on an organized home without piles and messes everywhere…

Well, let’s just say I’d be in more of a hot mess!

Now that we’re clear that home organization is thankfully not a spiritual requirement, as strange as it may sound, I love to do our family’s laundry.

Don’t lose me here!

I didn’t always feel the love of doing laundry. I loathed it. It was a never ending battle in my daily struggle to get everything done. I hated it so much I became vocal about it, as well as the rest of my to-do checklist. Perhaps I was reaching out for sympathy or help, but what I eventually received was an epiphany that changed my life.

I had a wonderful husband and two precious little ones. After struggling for several years with infertility, I should have been joyful beyond measure. For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted a family, but I wasn’t prepared for how overwhelmed I would become as the demands of work, home life and mothering pressed in on me. It felt like I was in a vice that was crushing every last ounce of energy from my life.

It turned out the one applying the pressure was me.

When my children were born I approached my employer with a request to work from home, which wasn’t so common at the time. I wanted to be home with my children, but couldn’t afford to leave my job. We worked out an arrangement and I woke up around 3am each morning to work, so I could be mostly done before the kids woke up. I rarely left the house. I felt it was too much work to pack up a baby and a toddler unless I absolutely had to.

When the kids napped, I continued to work my job, and no, they weren’t sleeping through the night yet. My husband did his best to help, but he had to go out to work each day. I thought I was experiencing postpartum depression, but it didn’t recede as time passed and the kids grew. Laundry, dishes and dust behemoths piled up, and I got angry. This was supposed to be the blissful family life I had dreamed of. I had an amazing family and yet I was full of anger and despair.

I heard about a playgroup that met close to our home and decided it would be worth packing up the kids to get out of the house.

That decision, that one small step, changed my life and our family.

The moms at the playgroup picked up on my desperation. I learned I wasn’t alone in the demands of young motherhood, but more importantly, I learned the intensity I had placed on those demands was of my own fabrication. I learned this primarily from a young mom who seemed so beautiful and confident that at first I was too intimidated to even approach her. She had it all together, or so I thought. I just couldn’t imagine crossing the chasm from my desperation to her confidence.

Thankfully, she approached me.

My newfound friend had three children of her own and three step-children. I could only imagine how much laundry she had to do! Hoping to find common ground, I lamented about how much I hated doing laundry.

Her response was a healing balm for my anxious soul.

She told me she loved to do laundry and that she spoke praise for those dirty socks and grass-stained pants because she has healthy children who can get outside and get them dirty. Her career was working with exceptional children, particularly those on the autism spectrum.

She had perspective and gratitude, things I had lost along the way.

My heart shattered.

I needed that.

I needed to be broken and emptied of all the perfectionist ideas of what life, motherhood and home “should” be, and filled with a dose of reality. Life and kids are messy, but in a glorious way. I also realized that my response to the minor “tragedies” fostered how my children would eventually take on the world.

I changed after that day at playgroup. I looked at life through fresh eyes. I voiced thankfulness and praise. I loved on my family more and grumbled less. I got out of the house with friends. I found joy and contentment in the simple things in life, like hanging up the laundry.

My kids are now teenagers and they’ve been helping me with the laundry for several years. I still happily scrub the stains, thankful for the blessing my family is to me and cherishing the precious few years I have left before my kids move out and do their own laundry all the time.

As I hang each item on the line I am thankful for the family member who is healthy and able to get it all dirty. When I spray and scrub grass stains, I’m thankful for my children who are able to get out and play. When I’m washing the smoky smell out of my husband’s clothes, I’m thankful he’s safely home from the job he loves as a wildland firefighter.

A daily practice of gratitude can bring you to a new perspective, one of contentment and joy.  What step can you take today in a new direction to claim a life of joy? What in your life can you view today from a different perspective and be thankful for? Please share your thoughts below to inspire hope in others.


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