I recently came home after a long weekend of Army drill to a sight that would bring tears of joy to the eyes of many hard-working, beleaguered moms. There was a pile of laundry on the chair in my living room, neatly folded and stacked, ready to be put away. The towels were tri-folded and the t-shirts were creased. All the socks were wadded together with the toes sticking out like cute little puppy dog tongues.
As far as I was concerned, they might as well have been the tongues of the devil himself.
There are many things that piss me off. Like when my dog runs into the kitchen and chugs from her water bowl, only to slurp and slosh it all over the place. Or when my *insert well-meaning relative here* tries to load the dishwasher and sticks the silverware in with the fork tines and knife blades up. Or when my husband clips his toenails in the bathroom sink.
All of these things annoy me. I grit my teeth and swear under my breath, and then I move on with my day. I put a damn towel under the dog’s bowl and follow her from the kitchen to the dining room with a rag under my foot. I discreetly flip the silverware back before I pour the detergent in. I do a quick rinse and wipe of the sink to get rid of stray toenails.
But laundry? Mess with my laundry, and I will f*cking end you. Hell hath no fury like a woman who finds out a load of wash was done with the detergent poured on top of dry clothes before the water was added (everyone knows you pour the detergent, add water until it’s soapy and sudsy, THEN put in the clothes).
Just ask my husband. If I ever get divorced, I would put good money on the odds it starts with a load of laundry.
I distinctly remember both my mother and mother-in-law offering to help with household tasks right after I gave birth to my first child. The tear in my left labia was throbbing like crazy, I was hobbling around in adult diapers stuffed with perineal ice packs, and chowing down on Ibuprofen, but I’d be damned if I didn’t do my own laundry.
Honestly, I don’t give a f*ck if Marie Kondo herself appeared in my laundry room offering a personal demonstration of her KonMari technique for folding and organizing clothes. I would tell her the exact same thing I tell everyone else: GTFO.
If I were to get really psychoanalytical about it, I would say what it comes down to is control. There are so many things in life that are completely out of my hands. Then I became a mom and that list grew exponentially. I can’t guarantee sh*t. I can’t force my will. I can’t stop the bad things from happening any more than I can conjure up the good. It’s a tough pill to swallow when you realize the only person you can effectively change is yourself.
Laundry is the one area of my life where my subconscious, desperate for stability and order, has decided to take a stand and exert some clout. When it comes to laundry, I can literally affect everything about the process, from start to finish. I can do it exactly the way I want.
It is methodical, it is consistent, and I know it will produce the same results every single time. I don’t have to guess. I don’t have to spend energy trying to come up with more innovative ways to do it. I don’t have to worry about its feelings. It is productive and satisfying. It provides order for my otherwise chaotic mom world. Most importantly, it doesn’t talk back.
Maybe I’m totally off my rocker, but I think if we’re truly being honest with ourselves, we all have that one thing that makes us go absolutely f*cking bonkers.
That one thing that, if upended or disturbed or changed, makes us so unreasonably and inexplicably upset it’s embarrassing. It’s like we revert back to our most primitive, infantile selves, throwing tantrums and having meltdowns over the most ridiculous sh*t. And it always leaves us feeling like complete assholes.
But you know what? It’s cool with me if it’s cool with you.
I’m not going to judge you, whatever your “thing” is.
We know it’s not the healthiest way of dealing with these feelings. We know that micromanaging the hell out of this one little thing isn’t going to make it easier to let go of other, bigger things. Therapy would probably be the more effective, if pricier alternative. Maybe booze. But we each have our own way of trying to make sense of this unpredictable and uncertain universe, and if this is what it takes for you to cope, to feel like you have your sh*t together in at least ONE aspect of your life, then I say, go for it.
Just don’t f*cking touch my laundry.
Emily Solberg is a writer and soon-to-be Mom of two under two based in Washington, DC. When she’s not waddling around after her eleven-month-old, she’s binge-watching episodes of The Crown, freelancing, or “playing Army” in her other uniform that doesn’t include leggings and a hoodie. You can read her work on popular mommy sites like Her View From Home, Military.com’s SpouseBUZZ, and Pregnant Chicken.