Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Laundry: A Lesson in Love


(Subtitle: They say finances are the thing married couples disagree about the most, but laundry is probably high up on the list.)
Today, Drew and I are celebrating four months of wedded bliss! The time is flying by, obviously because we have a lot of fun together. We enjoy our Monday date nights, which half the year consist of dinner and watching either the Bachelor or Bachelorette (don’t judge us too harshly; it’s our guilty pleasure and it’s all my fault). Since the Bachelor isn’t back on until January, we just wrapped up eight Mondays of Harry Potter movies, and now I am introducing Drew to Downton Abbey. We have also gone on a few adventures exploring the DFW area and each new discovery is a wonderful memory we create together. It goes without saying that in a marriage you will learn a great deal about your spouse, but I have also learned quite a bit about myself these last several months.

For the past 15 years or so, I have been responsible for doing my own laundry. (Advice to parents – teach your kids to do laundry at a young age. That way they can laugh at all of their bewildered college-mates who enter the laundry room for the first time and don’t know a washer from a dryer.) Although I have ruined my fair share of clothing, I generally do a pretty good job of cleaning my wardrobe and most things come out the other end with all the right colors and still fitting properly - an imperfect but decent track record.

When I lived on my own after college, I didn’t have a washer and dryer in my house, so I trekked home at least once a month to visit my family and commandeer the laundry room. During Drew’s weekend visits, his laundry sometimes got added to mine, and we usually tag teamed the folding. I used to hate doing laundry, because it always got worked in between homework and social activities when I was a student or lesson planning, grading, and lamenting the dearth of social activities in my life when I was teaching. I would dump the laundry basket of clean clothes on the bed so that I would HAVE to fold them before going to sleep, but it was way easier to shove them back in the hamper and repeat the routine until there were only half as many clean clothes to fold. Now that we are under one roof that we share with a washer and dryer, we I do laundry much more frequently. But, since I am taking some time off right now, I find a lot more fulfillment in daily chores, because I don’t have to fit them in amongst all the other stressors in my life. For the first time, I actually enjoy doing laundry! There is one thing, though, about laundry. One thing that makes me irrational and turns me into Miss Cranky Pants. One thing that makes my skin crawl. One thing that puts me a couple notches below Carrie in a coffee shop. (Not really, but I couldn’t resist!)

Fortunately, this one thing has recently taught me a lot about love.

Now that you are super curious, what is this one thing that makes me so crazy?!?

INSIDE-OUT T-SHIRTS.

Yep. I inherited this pet peeve from my Mama, who wouldn’t fold our laundry if we left it inside out. In a family of six, ain’t nobody got time for that! It was never a habit of mine to leave clothes inside out, so I lived very peacefully under Mama’s rule until my laundry became my own responsibility. Apparently her influence became ingrained in me and I didn’t realize it until I got married. From my perfectly logical perspective, folding laundry is a much faster and smoother process when you don’t have to turn clothes right-side-out. Okay, maybe not a lot faster, but at least a little bit. That’s what I keep telling myself, anyway.

As you may have deduced, Drew sometimes leaves his t-shirts inside-out. He claims he does this to keep the designs on the shirts intact, but I have two comebacks to this assertion: 1) Plain t-shirts don’t have anything on them to protect so leaving them inside out, in particular, is illogical (my gosh, the Vulcans are in my brain), and 2) My shirts with designs on them still look good after years of right-side-out abuse.

(side note: As I am re-reading and re-editing this post, it is starting to sound a lot like The Butter Battle Book, by Dr. Seuss.)

ANYWAY, this post is not for me to complain. I am here to provide hope to other inside-out t-shirt haters. (I’ll be launching Inside-Out T-Shirt Haters of the World Anonymous, IOTSWA, in the near future.)

I am not proud of this, but for the last couple of weeks, my impulse when folding laundry has been to fold my husband’s t-shirts inside-out. That’ll teach him, right? Geez, Louise! Stubborn much?

Inside-out proof in all its folded shame.

I had a revelation yesterday, though, thank God. I was doing laundry when I picked up one of my t-shirts and, without thinking, turned it right-side-out. Excuse me - 
WHAT?!  
HOW DID IT EVEN GET LIKE THAT IN THE FIRST PLACE? 
In NO way could it have been my fault, because I NEVER put a shirt in the hamper inside-out. Okay... in reality, it probably was my doing, or maybe it got flipped in one of the machines, or maybe my Guardian Angel did it to teach me something. Why would I fix my own t-shirt, yet refuse to fix my husband’s? My hypocrisy made me aware that every t-shirt folded inside-out is an act of crankiness rather than love, stubbornness rather than compassion, and selfishness rather than selflessness. Yes, it is just a t-shirt, but the little things in life make the biggest impact.

So, I might not be happy about it, but I am resolving, from here on out, to fold all clothes right-side-out, regardless of how they come to me out of the dryer. And as I have told my students countless times, I will do it with a smile on my face and joy in my heart. Over time, I hope that I will view each folded shirt not as an annoyance, but as an opportunity to love my husband. Marriage is about compromise and give-and-take. That means that sometimes I have to give and I can’t always be right. 
I can’t always be right. 
I’ll say it again, to make it really sink in: I can’t. always. be. right. 
Whew! Glad that is out in the open.

I love Drew a whole lot, and he knows it. He even finds my stubborn laundry tendencies endearing, and he will tell me I am being too tough on myself in this post, which makes me love him even more. Perhaps I have made a big deal here out of something small, but as a teacher, I believe real, humorous, and poignant lessons can be found anywhere. Remember the inspiration for this blog: "Whatever you are, be a good one." Learning about love while doing laundry- who woulda thunk it?


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