Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thoughtful About . . . Lessons Learned in the Laundry Room

Today's the last day to enter to win Once in a Blue Moon!


I never thought I'd sink so low as to write about laundry, but there you have it. I'm writing about laundry. Perhaps this wouldn't be odd for some, but I hate doing laundry. Even more than I hate doing dishes. More than vacuuming, dusting, or scrubbing. Or maybe that's why it makes sense for me to write about it . . .

Anyway. The last week has been gorgeous, sunny, and warm. Which means the last of The Snow has finally melted, and has thereby turned my world into one giant mud puddle. Since I have two small children, that naturally means that the mud puddle has worked its way into the house. And onto what feels like their entire wardrobes.

Now, I'm not usually the type to fuss too much about stains. My good friend Karlene once said, "I decided that kids' clothes aren't sacred and just assume they'll get ruined." I've embraced that because, well, it takes a lot of stinkin' effort to keep their clothes spotless!

But I did try to get the mud out this past week. I have soaked in OxiClean. I have pretreated with Shout and Resolve and used super-strength detergent. I have used hot water, cold water, washed things multiple times. And still some of those stains just won't come out.

On Monday (laundry day in the White household) as I rubbed stain remover into yet ANOTHER mud splatter, I thought, "This really stinks. I've got a whole arsenal of things specifically designed to do this with no effort, and what am I doing? Scrubbing clothes by hand."

And that was when epiphany struck. (Do you hear the angels in the background singing that "Ahhhhh!" chime thingy?") How, I wonder, did people keep their clothes clean before OxiClean and Resolve and Shout and Tide and whatever else I have in there? Because they did. I have proof, in the form of a lot of vintage clothing. Then the answer came: "They used lye, you dummy."

Oh . . . right. Now, I have no desire--none whatsoever--to use lye soap. Nope. That temptation has never struck. It'll ruin your hands even as it saves your clothes, and I'm just way too vain for that. ;-)

But, wait. Lye . . . pretty strong stuff, right? Sure, the soap form isn't as nasty as straight lye, but still. It's harsh. It's strong. It works. Whereas this stuff that doesn't destroy my soft skin . . . it also doesn't always take the stains out of my kids' clothes.

And that got me wondering. How often do we do the same thing in life? How often to we take Truth or Lessons and say, "Well, that's havoc on the emotional manicure. And it doesn't smell very nice, metaphorically speaking. Let's try this instead." It's sweeter. It's gentler. It has a prettier label.

But it just--doesn't--work.

I'm fine with being a sissy about lye and laundry. Sure, some of the stains will persist, but they'll grow out of the clothes in about two minutes anyway, so whatever. But life . . . I don't want to be a sissy about life. I don't want to turn my eyes away from the truth because it's too harsh, too strong, too blinding. I don't want to shrug and say, "Well, the stain didn't come out, but I did the best I could with what I have." That's just not good enough. Not when it comes to my heart, my soul.

I'm not allowed to be lazy about that.

Why knew that laundry could teach me something so valuable?


  1. Amen sister! Not an easy perspective to adopt, but so true! Good luck with the mud stains, both literal and proverbial. ;)

  2. The emotional manicure ... that's hilarious. Excellent post.

  3. Oh yes. You gotta protect the emotional manicure. ;-)