I have a special relationship with laundry. I actually LIKE to do it. I love to be able to sit down with a big pile of clean clothes and neatly fold them into their respective piles as I listen to some good music, watch TV or even listen to the scriptures being read online. As I've grown older, I have realized that it is the number of piles that has become profound to me, as they have marked both the joyous and tragic occasions of my life.
When I married my first love, Rob, twenty-years ago, I only had two piles - his and mine. Soon thereafter, our first little baby girl came into the world, and then there were three.
During each of the next five pregnancies, I remember imagining the cute little new pile of clean laundry that would be added to my coffee table as I went through the clothes-folding ritual. After each baby was born, my heart would swell as I looked at the new, tiny pile and I would give thanks to God for letting me bring in another little human into our world.
Laundry piles also symbolized the departure of family members. When Rob would deploy for four, six or even twelve months at a time overseas, as I completed the laundry during the days after he left, his pile would disappear. I would be left with only the kids' and my piles and it would be a sad realization that his pile would not appear for many months to come.
The most heart-wrenching experience I had with piles of laundry was when Rob suddenly and unexpectedly passed away four years ago, leaving me a widow with six children, the youngest of whom was two years old. As I folded up the last of his laundered fatigues after his funeral, I was heart-broken to think that I would never have his pile on the coffee table again. We were down to just seven piles now - the kids' and mine.
A few months after Rob's death, I met a wonderful man at church named John. We are soul mates and we knew it right away, so we married two months after we met. Since then he has added his pile of dress shirts and slacks, and three more little piles as he has given me a beautiful blonde little boy who is his clone and two new twin babies, who look like me. We are only down to ten piles now , though, (but sometimes only nine if the twins happen to be the same size at the time) because our oldest, Bethany has been off to college for a year now. I remember folding her clothes two weeks before she was to leave and thinking that this pile would dwindle to nothing soon, perhaps only to be rekindled briefly during her visits home. It was bittersweet.
How many piles we will end up with only God can tell, but for now, I am going to enjoy my ten while they last. Conor will be leaving in two years. Will we have an eleventh pile before he goes, or a twelveth? Stick around with me and find out!
What are your thoughts on laundry?