Exponential Laundry

Dear Reader, I dug w-a-y back in my newspaper column archives for this January 2011 humorous look at a chore we all know and love.

I am the last person to be giving a lesson in higher mathematics.  My friend and I still have nightmares about our elementary, middle school, and high school adventures in math.  So do our teachers! So I’m not going to focus on math, but instead, on laundry. I am much better at laundry than math.

Almost two years ago my washing machine bit the dust.  We went to Sears to see what we could see, and the polite young salesman who looked to be about nineteen and had probably never done a load of laundry in his life asked, “About how many loads of laundry do you do a week?”  Without missing a beat I replied, “Fourteen.”


“Fourteen,” I nodded.  (Sometimes I’m soft-spoken and people can’t hear me.)

“How many people are in your family,” he inquired?

“Four,” I responded.  He just shook his head and walked away.  After a few deep breaths he returned and told me he thought I should purchase a heavy-duty machine.  My husband agreed.

I am on washing machine number three in thirteen years of marriage. (Maybe I’m not so good at laundry!)  Frankly, if I don’t do two loads of laundry a day, it’s a mess. You’d think if I missed one day of laundry, I’d simply have four loads for the next day.  Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! Laundry is exponential. That means it reproduces like rabbits.

A day without laundry is like a day without oxygen.  It doesn’t happen. Well, except for those days when we dare take a small vacation and then I’m a carbon copy of the man who used to star in the Dunkin’ Donut commercials.  I murmur all the way home, “It’s time to do the laundry. It’s time to do the laundry.”

I have done laundry on every national holiday known to mankind.  I’ve hung laundry on the clothesline while hosting parties on Memorial Day and Thanksgiving.  I’ve folded laundry while family is at my house for Christmas. I figure if they don’t like it they can eat somewhere else, and they keep coming back, so I guess they’re not too offended.

Dear Reader, you may ask, why so much laundry?  Well, my husband works his engineering job and then comes home and works outside.  We live on a farm. Chad is a grease monkey. His mascot is a petrified rat that now hangs in our garage.  (He named the rat Ralph. Enough said.)

I have two children.  They like to play outside.  There are swimsuits and towels in the summer and snow garb in the winter.  My children play in mud and that doesn’t rock my dirty socks because at least the children are outside being creative and burning calories.  But it does mean more laundry.

My children have allergies.  I wash all our sheets in hot water on a weekly basis.  The “Go Green” people don’t like that but it’s better than my children sneezing and wheezing all over the place.  I am a neat-freak from way back. I am not a psychologist, but maybe I’ll play one in a show someday. One time I lay down on my couch and analyzed myself.  It’s a control issue. I like my home to be neat because I can control the environment. I cannot control people. I cannot control what goes on in this world, but I can control the towels.  I am their superior! They are always folded neatly and put away, and that is a good feeling

I am paranoid about stinking.  We’ve all been shopping when someone walks down the aisle and we think, “Hey, Pa Ingalls!  Grab a bar of soap, wash your clothes, and take a shower, please!” I don’t want myself or those I love to smell badly.

My greatest source of laundry frustration is that it just continues to pile up.  About once a month I will get all of the laundry, washed, dried, ironed, folded, and put away.  Inevitably, not more than five minutes later, some jokester throws some dirty jeans through the laundry chute.  I’m seriously thinking about buying stock in Tide.

And as an addition, eight years later, the laundry in this home has not subsided with a teenage boy.  But in just a few short years, I bet it will change. It will change when nobody comes home from college and each child is living independently.

And oh, how I will remember fondly the days of never-ending laundry.  

Until the next Wednesday the Lord allows.