It’s the full-court press on laundry

Are We There Yet? • LORI CLINCH

Laundry. It’s the bane of my existence. It challenges me, humiliates me and tempts me to call a flagrant foul as I shout out, “For the love of Tide, why is this shirt in the dirty clothes when it’s still on a hanger?”

Laundry takes up my mornings, consumes my afternoons and sometimes makes me want to boxout my opponents because they won’t properly deposit their dirty clothes.

I do my best to beat it, but laundry is a worthy adversary, and there are times when I think that it is going to knock me right out of the game. It fights for my attention, demeans my demeanor, and changes my character.

Yet, I’m no pushover. After all, it takes a woman of great integrity to blindly stick an arm under a child’s bed to retrieve dirty socks. Only a woman with a strong stomach would dare bury her face into her children’s garments and sniff, and only a lady with nerves of steel would ever be brave enough to handle the contents of a basketball bag.

The worst part is trying to enlist the assistance of the family. I’ve often stood poised with a stain stick and performed mini-seminars on pretreatment. I’ve given detailed demonstrations on bending at the knee, retrieving socks and taking them to the basket. I’ve even used a clipboard on

the sidelines to properly exhibit the benefits of unrolling gym socks before shooting them into the dirty clothes. Still, no one seems to get it. Even as we speak, there’s a dirty jersey in the hall, a rumpled T-shirt outside the shower stall, and an empty ensemble on the living room floor that would make one suspect the Rapture has occurred and left behind only the dirty clothes and me.

There are those wise enough to force their children to wash their own garments. I’ve heard stories of women who delegate washdays, schedule hours, and sent their kids out into the world with full knowledge of spot removal.

They are better parents than I. Although I have one child who can unload the dishwasher and another who can operate the vacuum cleaner with some success, I have issues with the laundry and get cold sweats when I think about the family doing it themselves.

Think me an enabler if you must, but I happen to know that my kids would show up on the court with stained and wrinkled uniforms, smelling like their three-day-old socks as the public looks on and scrutinizes, “What kind of mother?”

Yet I still think we should handle this situation like a team, so I decided to step up our game by introducing a three-bin laundry hamper. It is large, industrial and appeared to be downright functional. “Let your family sort the clothes for you!” the ad boasted and the picture on the box showed a young man happily depositing his jersey into a bin that was obviously full of other happy jerseys of the same color.

I have to say there’s nothing like smiling kids sorting clothes to warm a woman’s heart.

“This,” I announced to my charges during the laundry-sorting demonstration, “is the dark bin. This one is for jeans and this lovely and oversized bin will happily hold all of your tidy whities.”

While the lad on the box surely embraced his mother’s three-bin demonstration, my children were less than impressed. They responded with yawns, rolling eyes and instead of saying, “Can and will do, Mother!” they double-teamed me and left the room.

The enthusiasm that came with the three-bin hamper wore off quickly — if, in fact, it ever existed. Some clothes actually made it to the laundry room, but certainly weren’t sorted. There were whites mixed in with the darks, jeans smashed in with fine washables and gym socks coming out of the armpits of my favorite blouse.

Had they no shame?

Worse yet, thanks to the height of March Madness and the exuberance of the Final Four, the hamper has become nothing but a makeshift hoop with no one to rebound and put back for a bank shot.

Being the kind of person that I am, I imagine that I’ll continue doing the laundry, but I think I’ll present them dang kids with a bill. That ought to bring a whole new meaning of charging to their little lives.

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.