Last weekend, I found myself a stranger in a foreign laundromat, three towns over. Enmeshed in loads of vomit-laden clothing and bedding, I eyed the large sign posted on virtually every machine: “Do not wash blankets, pillows, or other large items”. As my haul consisted of 12 loads made almost entirely of blankets, pillows, towels, and hastily mismatched pajamas, I regarded the signs and chose to ignore them. A woman whose washer and dryer choose to shit the bed (the metaphor is not lost on me) in the middle of the epically violent “DiFazio Family Hurl Fest of 2014” does not have time for niceties such as laundromat etiquette.
I’ve mentioned before my quest to find the beauty contained in everyday life experiences. I’ve talked about how a bit of mindfulness goes a long way in trying to “seize the moment”; to ward off the feeling of insanity that goes along with parenthood. Standing in the laundromat, I found it exceptionally hard to find the jewels among the rubble (err… chunks?) of chaos.
I clenched my teeth. I cursed my now defunct washer and dryer. I grumbled over the fact that my life now necessitated the industrial strength, five dollar washers. I stink-eyed the attendant, silently daring him to involve himself in the contents of my laundry loads. Don’t even, I threatened silently. Don’t. Even. Hell hath no fury like a Mom who’s been hip deep in puke for three days straight.
As tends to happen with me when I am moments away from a breakdown, I started to reminisce about simpler times. Perhaps I do this as a coping mechanism?
I recalled the laundromats of my college and post college years, the ones that required four quarters in four slots and very little time or laundry organization. Load in, load out, repeat. Twice, maybe. Lights with darks, sheets with towels. First just mine, then mixed with his, tossed in a basket and left for later. We had life to live.
I recalled the washer and dryer in the first house I shared with Rob. The avocado green and mustard yellow, and how they lived in the kitchen. I remembered the first loads of Motherhood, the Dreft scented onesies and newborn socks, before Maddie was even born. I remembered the folding, the organizing, the fussing… the duties a new Mom undertakes as she begins to unfurl her new identity and try it on for size.
Back in the present, load after load finished drying, and I upended the baskets on the folding table. Once again folding, organizing, fussing… I realized that being in the laundromat gave me the opportunity to devote all of my attention. Laundry done at home is often forgotten, an afterthought. Here, I could focus. I ran my hand along Chloe’s footie pajamas, smoothing out the wrinkles. These were Maddie’s first, and now they strain at Chloe’s toes. Benjamin’s grass-stained jeans, huge at Halloween, already an inch too short. Maddie’s favorite leggings, a hole worn in the knee, a testament to her carefree spirit.
I folded and fussed, layered and organized, my mess transformed into rows of sweetly smelling fabric. Thinking, reminiscing, holding my children close as I folded. I felt lighter, happier, free in my accomplishment. I packed basket after basket into the minivan and headed home, where I was promptly bowled over by three kids and a dog. My neatly organized laundry never quite made it to the dressers.
This is my life. Busy. Chaotic. Messy. Unpredictable. Occasionally, full of vomit. But…even amidst the unkempt blur of the everyday there exist moments of breathtaking calm and beauty.