I left the house the other night in a bit of a snit and tired. Tired of feeling like a servant. Tired of having to ask people so many times to please empty-your-lunchbox-put-away-your-backpack-get-your-dirty-socks-off-the-floor-put-your-papers-in-the-recycling-clean-up-after-yourself-and-don't-walk-away-from-the-table-until-it's-cleared and on and on I could go -- and actually did.
So I left, just around bedtime, leaving my husband to tend to the nest and the teens to tend to their own business while I ran to my friend Carrie's to ostensibly "throw a load of laundry in the dryer." Which sounds like a euphemism, but it isn't, since we are currently dryer-less and we did need socks for the morning.
At Carrie's house, which is right down the street, everything is lovely and there is no yelling. She is a minimalist and her house is always tidy and she barely even wears socks, so the odds of seeing one on the floor or tucked in a couch cushion sort of equals the odds of winning the Powerball.
We sat for a while and I talked myself off the proverbial cliff while the clothes dried. When they were finished, we sat a while longer and I folded laundry on her (modern, white) couch. And as I held each piece up for folding, each one revealed a small story to tell and there was strange power in this simple act of folding. An act I had performed hundreds upon hundreds of times before. But never with such a willing witness.
And as I pulled each item out -- the tiny black boxer briefs of the 6-year-old and the favorite t-shirt of the teen and the funny little shorts of the 10-year-old that she had worn for YEARS because her diminutive frame gets longer, but never wider. Or her skinny jeans. Her ridiculously sweet and innocent skinny jeans that seemed so impossibly skinny. Garment by garment, I reflected on each one's place in our life, or the fact that this particular garment now worn by the youngest had been worn by all of his siblings before him. And little did I know that it would be with us for so long. Or why I kept this scarf of mine, so threadbare, because it used to belong to my sister Alma. Or how this shirt of my husband's was by far his favorite and had actually been a gift from my mom when the other identical favorite shirt, also from my mom, had died a worn-out death. And how I loved how he looked and felt when he wore it.
It became sort of ridiculous how sentimental this load of laundry was becoming. And how each little piece and each story told opened up my heart to the love I felt for all of them. And how looking at it all reminded me how impossibly little they still were. And how sometimes, because it seems like they've been here so long, I forget their innocence. And it reminded me too that we all need forgiving on occasion.
I went deep and by now I was actually crying -- partly from relief that my angst was over, and partly from the absurdity of it all. And I was laughing. And thanking my lucky stars for this witness on my mothering path. And the fact that I have so many amazing, reflective, thoughtful caring witnesses.
I came out the other side of this simple task more in love, more satisfied and more understanding of them and myself than I ever had been before. And I knew I could carry that feeling with me into the next day. And the next and the next after that. And when I ran low on those feelings, I could get a witness to it all, to the mundane and the monotony, and the wonder of motherhood. I could invite someone over to watch me sweep. Or meet up with friends at the park. Or call someone just to talk myself through it. I could connect with my people and connect with my heart in the process.