Most of the time, people think of life-changing moments as big, bold occasions. A bolt of lightning hits you out of the blue and you are never the same. Certainly this can happen, but more often than not, the most important moments are insignificant at the time. It is only with hindsight that you can see how much a given event changes your life.
This was on my mind as I was doing some laundry, thinking about Mother’s Day and about the effect my mom has had on my life. The thought that kept running through my head was that despite it being late at night, I really enjoy doing laundry. I love the sorting, the back-to-back-to-back loads, and especially the folding.
I’m not exactly sure what it is about it that I enjoy so much. Maybe it is the methodical nature of the minute details. Maybe it is being able to see a giant, unseemly pile in the beginning and watch as it disappears into tidy little packages put back into their place. Maybe it is as simple as being able to check something off the list
I started to think about the moment when I would first do my own laundry. At the time, it didn’t seem like that big of a deal. I was a freshman in high school and playing football. The edict came down from the coaches that the players needed to have clean uniforms for each practice. That meant my uniform needed to be washed every night. It was at that point that I was tapped to step up to the plate. I was about to be given the gift of ‘Responsibility’. I was going to start doing my laundry. And the laundry I did. 5 days a week, every week for the 3+ months of football season. And I have been doing it ever since.
At around that time, I started making my lunch everyday for school. Combine that with my innate bathroom-cleaning abilities developed over years of selecting that as my household chore and I started to build myself a nice little domestic repertoire. The more I thought I about it, I also started to think about how, somehow over the course of many years holding a dish rag and dabbing tiny puddles off the top of upside down drinking glasses, I even began to like emptying the dishwasher.
As a kid, I distinctly remember HATING emptying the dishwasher. I hated having to dry some of the dishes by hand. I hated having to sort and stack everything. Hated the whole process. I would dread my turn in the rotation. But somehow, over the past 15+ years, I have grown to enjoy it.
None of this makes me some kind of god of domesticality, but I do think that it makes me a better person. A better man, a better husband and a better father. And for that I have my mom to thank. For it was her that gave me that gift of Responsibility all those many years ago.
I have been a parent for about seven years, but even now I have already learned about one of the hardest challenges of being a parent. You want so much for your kids, including for them to be comfortable. It hurts so much to see your own children struggle and suffer. Yet, you also want to teach them how to be self-sufficient. The challenge is that at times these two goals are at odds, because growth requires struggle.
So in celebration of Mother’s Day, I want to thank my mom for setting me on a path to becoming the person I am today. I am sure that it was not easy and that I probably pushed back on these “gifts” more often than I remember now that the process is well in the past. I just hope that when the time comes, I will be able to do the same for my children. Maybe this would make for good Christmas gifts for Hannah and Amelia this coming December. Just as long as they let me do the laundry every once in awhile.