I think it was around the trillionth load when I realized my life had become a load of laundry. In no particular order I have washed several golf balls and tees, a diaper, four tubes of Chapstick, note paper, candy wrappers, beads, bands my kid promised she would wear on her braces, permission forms for school field trips and most recently (though no one is claiming them) someone’s collection of maple tree keys. Even before bringing my first baby home, I was prepping for a lifetime of laundry. But I was (naively) excited. I smelled, cuddled and smiled at the sweet, soft onesies, bibs and socks before adding them into the load. Special baby soap, hot water, swirling, bubbling, humming, success. I’d daydream over who would wear these adorable, huggable outfits. I don’t feel this way anymore. My washing machine settings eerily reflect my real life.
This one really resonated with me as a new Mom. Things felt saggy and uncomfortable immediately after giving birth and I hesitantly pressed that button, almost angry at the parallel to my own life, longing for the day I could just choose the “Normal” cycle, but that seemed a galaxy away.
Agitator: It’s not a cycle, but I can relate to the agitator. I sometimes think if I were to become a professional wrestler my name would be “The Agitator” and I would have dirty baby clothes pinned to my shoulders and my hair would be in a messy bun. The Agitator arrives with that false sense of euphoria – the one in which you think you’ve done all of the laundry in the house. A quick scan and you realize there’s nothing left to wash or fold. There’s five seconds of deafening silence before the JAWS music starts quietly playing in your head as you creep down the hall to your kids’ rooms to find inside-out pants with the underwear still attached, wet towels on the floor, pajamas, socks, sheets and maple keys all requiring a wash.
This cycle is for those rare days moms get to bathe ourselves. It’s ironic that we spend all of our waking hours washing and cleaning for our new baby but spend so little time cleaning ourselves – you know, with actual water and soap. And maybe that’s why it’s so clearly marked “rinse” – to remind us to go and do just that.
When you feel your day completely unraveling, you’ve entered the spin cycle. The baby’s crying, you’re out of diapers, your partner just texted to say he’s going to be late flying home from their five-star work junket because U2 kept coming back on stage for encores (oh, poor him!) and you realize you’ve washed a dirty diaper with the “good” tablecloth.
I’ve never tried this cycle on my dryer, but you have no idea how close I’ve come to climbing in there and seeing what might get spit out. Sometimes I wonder if I might have Stockholm syndrome. I hate doing laundry so much, but when I catch the dryer the second it stops, I let the warmth of the clean clothes envelope my body and I lay there in a pile of soon-to-be-soiled clothes, fabric softener sheet clinging to my sleeve like a patch of energy, giving The Agitator the boost I need to go and start dinner.
There should be a new mom cycle. It would hand you a hot drink, give you a hug and just for fun, let you press the “Normal” button.
Drain? Dang right I’m drained!
Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, Spring 2017.