Tonight, one woman fed my family while another one did our laundry.
Listen, I’m not always proud of the choices I make as a mother, as a wife. It’s tough – being that default parent, having the noticeable duties and responsibilities of this family rely heavily on my ability to overcome obstacles that I never thought imaginable.
I developed shingles when I was 27 years old. To say I am familiar with the noun “stress” would be an understatement. I’m now 32 years old, 5 years into marriage, and 2 kids deep. It’s humorous to compare the 27 year old’s stress with the 32 year old’s. How I long for the 27 year old’s.
My husband and I both work full-time. We own our home and our family is active. The number of nights we all sat down and relaxed as a family this summer, I can count on one hand. Our once beautiful front porch is a chaotic nightmare filled with empty boxes, some trash, coolers, scooters, bikes and somewhere underneath it all I think there are two chairs and a table.
I was inspired one afternoon and cleaned it all off in hopes of creating a nice seating area to watch the kids while they play. It lasted about a week.
Our nice long cemented driveway has small piles of clutter alongside the house that were created after we “cleaned” out the basement one afternoon. There are weeds along our fence that I’ll sometimes pull to kill time, while the 3 year old plays in the backyard that is lucky to be mowed once every 3-4 weeks. It doesn’t seem to bother her much; though I think I heard her say the grass was itchy on her legs the other day.
On the inside of our house, from room to room, we have one unfinished project after another. And laundry that seems to compile by the hour. I wish I were over exaggerating – my husband takes about 2-3 showers a day while the oldest daughter unnecessarily changes her outfit 6 times a day, and then also, a 3 year old – need I say more?
Neither my husband nor I are very good with follow through. I become sidetracked and he becomes bored. We both become stressed – but have completely different stressors.
So, tonight I caved. After coming home from work I had planned on preparing dinner as I do most nights, but then I saw the mountain of laundry growing steadfast.
While the oldest has been at a friend’s house all week because her sitter has started school and we are sitter-less, I thought to myself that’s one less mouth to feed. My husband and I can usually fend for ourselves and make do with whatever the cupboard has to offer. But then there’s the 3 year old.
I set a bowl of ice cream in front of her in hopes it’d tide her over until settling on a dinner plan, programmed the TV to her favorite show and got to work compiling all of the dirty laundry I could find throughout the entire house. I loaded 4 baskets of clothes into the SUV, rushed the kid to finish her ice cream, and set out to find the nearest Laundromat.
Did you know that some Laundromats offer drop-off service? To my dismay, it was an opportunity I couldn’t just disregard. I was certain it was a sign from God. Who am I to ignore this message from our mighty Lord?
.95 cents per pound. Shit. However… she’ll fold it too… 89 pounds. I had 89 pounds of dirty laundry and a king size comforter. It would cost $95 for someone else to wash, dry, and fold my laundry.
Thinking back to my earlier stress regarding the budget and how we suck at sticking to it, my thoughts muddled. Trade one stress for another stress… I settled on a little less than half and the total ended up being $40. I washed the other half myself while my 3 year old flipped through pages of an expired Cosmopolitan, pointing out different dresses she liked and didn’t like.
By this time it was 6:30 and I had yet to feed my family. I found a granola bar and peanut butter crackers in the car that she generously shared with me. The clock moved slow, and the clothes were still in the wash… and that’s when I hit the lowest of lows. I offered the Laundromat tenant $15 under the table if she’d dry and fold the rest of the laundry I decided to wash myself. She accepted my proposal.
This gave me time to check in on our oldest at her friend’s where her friend’s mom offered to throw a few more burgers on the grill for the rest of my family. I declined at first, already feeling like a failure, but it was getting late and Burger King sounded less than appetizing. I conceded and accepted her offer and brought my husband home a burger while the 3 year old pounded hers in the backseat on the way home.
I picked up our folded laundry at exactly 8:29, 1 minute shy of the doors closing. It was in bags, it smelled fresh and clean and it was still warm. After taking a deep breath, I asked the Laundromat attendant if she’d want to come over and put it away too. She laughed. Apparently she thought it was a joke.
Sometimes as parents we make choices for which we aren’t always proud. We do what we need to do to provide, care for, and manage our families. We could’ve washed the 89lbs of laundry ourselves, not to mention what is currently in our washer and dryer at home, and it would’ve taken a couple of weeks and more would have piled up in the midst, but I cheated.
I can’t always be perfect and do the most honorable thing… like bribing a stranger to fold my clothes. I do know that two of the most important things that our family needs from us, as mothers, is our love and our sanity. With love comes an abundance of things; with sanity comes a peaceful home. So it’s okay if you need to cheat, if you need to spend money that’s budgeted elsewhere, if you feed your kid ice cream as a filler, and that you accept dinner from another mom who has offered to feed your whole family. So for all the parents out there, when you’re at your wits end yet there’s no end in sight, take the easy way out, give yourself a break – call it accepting defeat or simply claim it as finding a way.
Last night, I found a way.
I’m Becca, mom of 2, wife of 1. I work full-time at the University of Notre Dame, but my best work is done at home, being a wife and mom. I have a Master’s Degree in Student Affairs Higher Education and hope to one day pursue a PhD (maybe when the kids are older). My Bachelor’s is in Media and Public Communication, Journalism, and Public Relations. I’ve always loved to write, but since it hasn’t taken me anywhere professionally, I just do it now to journal, relax, and clear my head; although, I do aspire to write my own book one day. My hobbies are limited and I get my highs from posting conversations with my children on Facebook. As a family, we love taking trips to the beaches of Lake Michigan, traveling to see family, and also unplanned, unorganized, chaotic, but yet fun weekend getaways.