I pride myself in being ‘earth conscious’: having solar panels, and energy efficient appliances, doing composting and recycling, and during the summer I line-dry most of my laundry.
There is something deeply satisfying about doing laundry that way: I plan it in the morning, so the laundry has all day to dry. That first morning light, the birds singing, grass slightly wet from dew: I just love it. Just me, the cloth-pins and the fresh smell of a new day and clean clothes.
When hauling in the laundry one evening, it dawned on me that I came to most of my revelations through laundry.
Just think about it: when you hang up the laundry, each piece of clothing goes through your hands.
All of a sudden you realize how tall your oldest boy has become, with underwear in nearly the same size as your husband’s and sweaters that would fit you.
How plain your youngest son’s underwear now looks, when he switched from cool and cute superhero briefs to ‘just cool’ boxers.
How grown up your daughter has become when you hang up her first bra.
How few times I exercised this week, based on the limited dry-fit clothes.
Being somewhat of an A-type I sort my laundry while hanging. Sometimes I sort by color, sometimes by child, sometimes by kind of garment. Socks always need to go together (a challenge of its own, as every parent can attest!)
While I was hanging out the laundry, sorted by color one day, I thought of the introduction of the book Girl with the pearl earring (in which Griet, the main character, is chopping vegetables for a soup and sorts them by color). I get that.
Hanging out the laundry is a household chorus I really like.
I remember a nice day in the late fall back in the Netherlands. My third child was a few weeks old and I was outside, hanging out the laundry, when she and her one-year-old brother were napping, and our oldest was happily playing.
A few minutes alone felt like heaven.
While shaking the wet garments and sorting them by child (anticipating it would make the folding job easier later on), it hit me that my daughter’s section was mostly pink. Pink! I never liked pink and always had been somewhat ‘against gender specific clothes, especially for babies.
I also was convinced for 9 months that I was carrying another boy and even after she was born, for the first few minutes of her life I still though she was a he.
But she clearly was a girl and because she was the only one of our children born in the Netherlands with family close by, visitors were frequent and plenty and they all brought ‘typical girl’ clothes.
Looking at the entire pink section on the wash-line, I suddenly overcame with love. Love for the color pink, love for the beautiful day, but mostly love for my little baby girl. A girl!
It was as if hanging out those tiny pink outfits was an enormous revelation: “I have a daughter!”
And now, ten years later, while I shake the wet clothes and hang them in my organized way on the line, it dawned on me that my kids have grown. Developed into independent human beings, with their own opinions and their own clothing styles. I know better than to buy new clothes without them present, as I realize how essential it is for them to pick what they like, what is their style and fits their image.
With the end of summer in sight, I know I will miss my ‘laundry moments’. It’s a good thing I still have to fold the laundry, even when it comes out of the dryer.
This job is mine, for my laundry revelations.