The house was especially still. Both girls were out with friends for the evening- savoring the last moments before they and their buddies scatter to colleges all over the country. Rain drummed on the metal roof. The kitchen was spotless, even though the evening was young. I’d heated up leftovers for myself, and already rinsed my fork and plate and tucked them in the dishwasher. A quick swish in the sink and wipe over the counter was all that was needed before I turned off the kitchen lights and headed toward the laundry room.

The buzz of the dryer had drawn me there, even though what I really wanted was to climb the stairs and run a hot bath. I’d come to the end, almost, of my first day back at school. Meetings, not teaching. My brain was feeling full. My bones were tired from all the sitting. My eyes were weary from staring at the computer screen catching up on emails late in the day.

A soak in the tub sounded perfect.

The thunder grew louder as I opened the dryer, whose intermittent buzzing seemed to say, “Pay attention to me. Now!”

As she’d dashed out the door an hour earlier, Frances had called over her shoulder, “Don’t worry about my laundry. I’ll fold my stuff when I get home.” I’d smiled, and thought about how much she had grown in her first year of college. Summer was ending, and I hadn’t done her laundry once.

I bent down and began pulling out the still warm jumble of clothes. “I’ll just lay her things flat on the top of the dryer, ” I thought, as I picked up each piece and smoothed it before setting it down on the still warm surface. It dawned on me that I didn’t recognize most of what I was pulling out of the heap. She buys her own clothes now. She washes and dries and folds them.

I shook out a t-shirt and added it to the pile, careful to do only enough to preserve the wrinkle free state of the garment, not so much that I’d be accused of interfering. My mind wandered back twenty years, to a time when I washed tiny onesies and bitty socks and soft swaddling blankets. And fifteen years ago, when there were smocked dresses to iron, and well loved overalls to scrub. A time when the girls were played with, and bathed, and fed, and read to, and loved on, and tucked in, all by 7:30 pm.

Tonight it was almost 8:30.I thought about their first soccer games, first sleepovers, first dates, first failing grade on a test, and first summer jobs.  “How had it all gone so fast,” I wondered as I hung a still damp pair of jeans on the drying rack.

I folded the last tank top and pair of gym shorts. The house was quiet, and the rumbles of thunder were fading. I turned a stray sock right side out, and added it to the not too carefully folded clothes on the dryer. I closed the dryer door, flicked off the laundry room light and headed up the stairs, thinking ahead about the hot bath in my near future, thinking back about many years of folding my girls’ laundry.

8 thoughts on “Laundry

  1. Such a beautiful slice, a story I share with you. The first day I realized I did recognize all the clothes in my daughters suitcases was a bit daunting. I am not sure I have recovered to this day.


  2. I don’t think anyone has ever made laundry sound so beautiful. You made so much more out of those clothes as you took them out of the dryer for Frances. This could easily be an excerpt from a memoir. (Hint, hint.)


  3. Such a simple idea, folding laundry, can have so much love intertwined!So beautiful is the story that you are telling! You made me remember the past with a smile on my face!


  4. Lisa. I’m crying. Crying because I know it will be a blink of an eye before my girls are washing their own clothes and thinking about college. Crying because you told this so beautifully. Crying because I just don’t want it all to pass too quickly.


  5. Oh my, I could just cry. I am going through the same thing right now as I get ready to send my first born off to college next week. I am folding his laundry though, even though that’s a job he’s been doing for a really long time. I see it as an act of love. I’m not sure why. He probably just sees it as a way he scammed out of folding his own laundry. 🙂 Best of luck you you in the coming weeks, mom!


  6. What a great slice! I loved every bit of it because it could of been me writing the same story. My daughter is 20 and we just got back from taking her to school. The house is oh, so quiet now.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s