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Great-Grandma Watching Over Me and My Laundry

The weekend before last, my superstar husband painted the laundry room.  Does this seem frivolous to you?  I guess in the scheme of things, it isn’t exactly at the top of the list of the world’s most important things to do, but it has made my life brighter.

You see, I do the laundry in our family, and the state of the laundry room has been a drag on my mood for some time.  My biggest complaint was that I couldn’t clean it properly because it had never been painted beyond the builder’s white sprayed on in a thin coat after construction.  Have you ever tried to wash such walls?  The so-called paint just comes off, leaving bare wallboard that can’t be cleaned either.  Ugh.

Anyway, we’ve been using the laundry room as a sort of mudroom, and my son’s winter coats and snowpants, etc. have been mucking the place up.  And, well, when you have a room dedicated basically to making things clean, it’s hard to swallow that the room itself looks so dirty.

So my dear spouse painted, and I bought some lovely bins to organize everything on the shelves.  Oh, my, it looks so good now!  I admit that I’m still so in love with the room that when I walk by, I open the door and just look at it.  I’m doing more laundry, too, an improvement which is, no doubt, not lost on my family. (It hasn’t been unheard of for someone in the house to buy new underwear because the laundry had been piled up for so long….)

So, the funny thing is that now that I am spending more time in the laundry room and am newly attuned to my surroundings (instead of blocking them out in disgust), I have discovered that I am being watched as I perform my duties!  In the hallway, directly across from the door, hangs my great-grandparents’ wedding photo.  Now, as I emerge from the laundry room carrying a load of clean clothes in a basket, I meet eyes with my grandmother’s mother and feel somehow as if she approves.

“Great!  You’re doing a fine job fulfilling your duties,” I can almost hear her say. Not that I hear her say this with any rancor in her voice.  She was a gentle and kind woman, so I am told, and I imagine her more pleased than smug, happy to see my world ordered.

Then comes the difficulty.  I am a feminist.  (And I am not afraid to say it — equal pay for equal work, fair treatment — I mean, honesty, who ISN’T a feminist if you look at it in such terms?)  Honestly, though, all of what I am writing in this post feels a bit awkward.  I mean, I’m fitting into the stereotype … and liking it.  Then again, my husband and I did decide to split things up this way — he has his chores and I have mine.  We could have had him do the laundry, but I’m home more often, so it makes more sense for me to take this on.  Nevertheless, I feel a little uncomfortable with the whole wifely duty thing.

Yet, I love my laundry room.  And I love cleaning things up and having everything look fresh and tidy.  And I feel a sense of satisfaction when I look at my great-grandma’s photo and feel as if she approves, as if she is telling me I’m on the right track and never mind with worrying about all that philosophical stuff.  And I think she would be thrilled for me that I have a husband who paints the laundry room because he knows it will make my world more cheerful.  Er, and the automated washer and dryer … well, that sure beats a hand-crank mangler any day. She did live to see mechanized machines but for most of her life did things the old-fashioned way.

I can just see her on the homestead in Minnesota in 1906 with her washing on the line.  Oh, and in the northern winter — imagine that!  No, I’m lucky.

Gotta go put another load in the wash now.  There must be something else I can wash… curtains? bathroom rugs?

4 Responses

  1. Great job with this post. Our laundry room is in our unfinished basement, so conditions aren’t ideal there. I hope to someday have a laundry room in the upstairs (probably in a different house). We also have the pile of laundry you talk about, although we are desperately trying to attack that.

    I know what you mean about having a newly painted room and how good that feels. Heck, we only did a little work on our yard on Sunday, and I already feel much better when I walk past.


  2. Ah, that brings back memories. The place we rented before buying this house had a leaky, smelly basement with a coin-operated laundry area. The landlady left out coins for us, so it’s not as if we had to pay. BUt yuck — it was so gross. When we first moved in here, I was thrilled with the laundry room. I guess it’s all a matter of perspective!

  3. I knew I was old when the best thing about moving to NC was that we have a washer a dryer in the apartment… and my husband and I did a giddy happy dance!!

    they were tough old birds to hang their laundry in that northern winter..and then wear it, you know it had to be scratchy after being frozen

  4. Eeghads, yes, to hear my grandma speak of itchy bloomers!! Jeesh, I wouldn’t go back in time to live then for anything. Ouch!

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