Are We There Yet?

No end in sight to the dirty laundry nightmare


Laundry. It gives you chills just to think about it, doesn’t it? No matter how often you do it, how much in control of it you are, somewhere, some way there’s a pair of dirty gym shorts picking up steam as they make their way to the clothes basket.

Take last week, for instance, when I had worked long and hard and finally had all of the laundry done, down to the last smelly sock. As I stood back and admired a clothes hamper that sported nothing more than a bit of sand, a gum wrapper and a solitary dryer sheet, the back door sprung open and in came a child stripped down to his skivvies. While I stood there with my arms outstretched and prayed for inner peace, he gave me a hug and in the wake of his show-stopping entrance, left me with another load.

I dropped my arms and stood and stared at the hamper in disbelief. One minute it was glorious and empty and the next it was full and coming into its own smelly existence.

As I yelled around the corner for that kid of mine to get back in here and toss his own stinking stuff in the washer, another child ran through, declaring that he had, and I quote, “Nothing to wear!”

I swear it’s more than I could bear. Every day the pile of soiled apparel multiplies, divides and conquers what could be a nice living space. The shirts double their stains, the jeans reproduce, and I’m quite certain that when my back was turned, the socks went out and acquired new and unattached friends.

One day last summer, as a form of self-motivation, I counted the years that I have left to do laundry for a family of six. I told myself that if one doesn’t take sportswear into account, this old laundress may actually have a day away from her fabric softener in about 11 years.

Give or take.

Sadly enough, I wasn’t aware that when some of the children leave the nest, they often come back. And when they do, they’re famous for bringing upwards of 18 loads of soiled laundry with them. Is it just me, or do you think this should have been explained in advance at college orientation?

Quite frankly, I’d never seen anything like it. I’d heard a beeping noise in front of the house and thought that perhaps a semi-truck had mistakenly taken our front porch for a loading dock. I ran out the door just in time to see our illustrious college student standing on the lawn holding two glow sticks in the air as he helped a buddy navigate his rig up to the front door.

Faster than you can say “Shout it out!,” three young men hopped out of the truck, loaded large black bags of soiled laundry on their shoulders and were making their way to the washing machine posthaste.

“For the love of fabric sheets, Vernon!” I screamed as I trailed behind. “What are you doing?”

“Oh,” he said as he turned to greet me with his award-winning smile, “Hello, Mo-there.” It was then that I noticed that he was dressed in his Sunday best and looked as if he were running for Congress.

“Dude,” exclaimed Young Huey as he showed up in a fresh shirt, “what’s with the suit?”

“Yeah,” said Lawrence as he changed his socks, “Are you in a wedding, going to a funeral, or graduating from law school?”

“Nah,” explained Vernon as he pulled his Sunday best off his body and added it to the smelly pile. “It was the only thing that I had clean.”

“Perhaps it was a big misunderstanding on my part,” I said as I clutched a stain stick for strength, “but I could have sworn that university brochure said the dorms had washing machines and matching dryers strategically placed for easy use.

“Oh, they do,” said Vernon as he pulled off his dress socks. “But I thought I would bring my laundry home anyway.”

I tilted my head back, closed my eyes, and with my arms outstretched, I started trying in earnest to find my “Happy Place.”

“What are you doing?” asked my husband as he walked in the door.

“I’m trying to imagine the tension as it exits my fingertips,” I said.

“Good luck with that,” he responded as he threw a dirty work shirt over my extended forearm.

I swear, some days I’d give my left sock to live in a nudist camp.

Lori Clinch is the mother of four sons and the author of the book “Are We There Yet?” You can reach her at www.loriclinch. com.