Tuesday, June 18, 2024 -
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Folding laundry is my happy place

Give me liberty? Nah, Give me laundry!

Some women find bliss in doing downward dog. Some get their Zen from deep breathing. Me? I receive my life affirmations doing laundry. Yes, doing laundry, a task most consider drudgery and toil. 

This habit, this spiritual practice if you will, began, as most things do, with my parents.

My mother was a super-duper housewife, a balabusta as our people say. She also worked, managing the books for my father’s electrical business, but managing and maintaining the family was her main occupation and preoccupation.

Growing up, I watched attentively as my mother dusted with Q-Tips, scrubbed the floors, polished the silver and cooked. Most of all, I observed as she tended to our dirty clothes like it were a science, separating by colors, fabric types, meticulously ironing and folding like an Origami master.  

As a little girl, I giggled at the sight of my father’s boxer shorts. As a teenage women’s libber, I rankled at the time my mother “wasted” folding his T-shirts . . . first, ever so carefully lengthwise in thirds, so the short sleeves would not have creases; then, in half to fit perfectly in the dresser drawer. Time wasted and besides, why did she, not he, attend to his laundry needs?

But then after 52 years of marriage, my mother’s days of doing my father’s laundry ended. 

A few days after he died, my mother — still in a daze — was in the garage doing the laundry. In the mix of just-dried garments were my father’s undershirts, shorts and socks. I watched as she folded his tee-shirts in the same neat manner she had done for so many decades. First, in thirds, then, in half, brushing away each wrinkle with care. The sight of her folding his clothes — for the last time — took my breath away.

Ever since then, I delight in seeing new piles of dirty clothes, towels and tablecloths. If we’re generating laundry, all is well. 

Grass-stained pants mean the kids (and grown-ups) had fun outside. Grease on a tie means the soup was good. A brisket-stained tablecloth means a big family gathering just occurred. 

The sound of the washer and dryer whirring away is merry music to my ears. The more loads, the better. Doing laundry is the most life-affirming act I know.

I once read — with great alarm — of a fancy technological “advance,” a machine that folds laundry for you. The very idea of a machine robbing me of the pleasure of this task is a travesty!

Happily, the device hasn’t made its way into my neighborhood big box store yet nor has my husband gotten wind of it, thinking what a great gift it would make. 

So, my cheerful chore remains safely in my very human hands and if I’m blessed, just like my balabusta mama, I’ll be folding my husband’s laundry for multiple decades more!

You can read more of Karen’s work at Muddling through Middle Age or contact her at [email protected]

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Read more of Karen Galatz’s work at https://muddling. me or contact her at [email protected].

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