[box_dark]”Five Kids, Two Dogs, and a Man of the Cloth,” by Cheryl Oberdieck[/box_dark]
[dropcap]L[/dropcap]aundry. Piles of laundry. The mountains peaked when there were five kids 13 and under. This was before the kids realized it was actually easier to do their own laundry than be subjected to helping sort and fold everyone else’s. Part of the issue was that there were three stairstep girls whose sizes were only slightly different.
I finally got smart by using a dot system. Daughter #1 had one dot on the tag of her clothing. Daughter #2 had two dots and so on. When something was passed down, an extra dot was added to the tag. Don’t even get me started on trying to match socks. I still don’t have a system for that. I just have a large box of sad singles waiting for their mates.
Still nothing is quite like attempting to get caught up on laundry with small children in the house. What follows is my email correspondence over the course of one winter day with my sister in the mid 90’s. It was our version of text messaging. Likely it was my only adult conversation for the day. Jonathan was 3, and Katy was 1. Here is my side of the conversation.
[box_light]Good morning. How are you?
Katy is being a fusspot today. Doesn’t want to be held or be put down. Just whines. Hard to deal with so much whining at the crack of dawn. I am definitely not a morning person. Her nose is stuffy again. She just climbed up on the guest room bed — now she’s happy. Loves to conquer high places. Rolling in the pile of laundry up there waiting to be folded. Lots to roll in, of course. Hope she doesn’t fall off.
Now Jonathan stumbles out. Also clearly not a morning person. He comes to cuddle on my lap which makes Katy squeal and hop right off the bed because now she wants to sit on my lap too. Oh, never mind. She’s stopping to scatter David’s birthday cards. Another mess. Oh well, it blends in with the house. Jonathan toots in my face. That blends in too. Someone needs a diaper change. Another day has begun.
….Day going downhill. Katy still fussy with the stuffy nose, but finally settles down to play in Jonathan’s room. Suspicious about too much quiet, I come in to find she had opened his drawers and pulled out all his clothes into a big heap. Next Jonathan is squealing in the bathroom. He wet the entire toilet area and himself. More laundry. Katy lunges into the excitement at the toilet scene and takes a spill on the wet floor. Clean her up. Back to the laundry room while Katy entertains herself in the living room tearing up today’s newspaper. No, I haven’t read it yet.
Jonathan wanting to know how the washing machine works. He gets his stool so he can reach in and pull out the dripping wet clothes to see in there better.
….Yes, I’m feeling more human now, though the house is still trashed. Katy dismantled the Christmas card collection, which fits in nicely with Dave’s and Katy’s scattered birthday cards. I’m ready to lock myself in the bathroom. Dave has to teach confirmation class tonight, but maybe he will come home early for dinner to rescue me for a while!
Jonathan called for me just as I was taking the hot bread out of the bread machine. He needed to be wiped. Forgot I had a potholder on my shoulder when I leaned over to wipe him in the bathroom. Yup. You know where the potholder fell. Right into the pot. Totally, totally gross. Poo on my potholder.
….The end is in sight when I can put these children down for the night! Da boy and da girl have worn out da mama. It doesn’t help that da papa came home late and then had to leave again. Tomorrow night will be an elders meeting and the next night Bible study. Going to lose da mind.
Actually got out to the store for a few minutes today to see if I could still speak “adult” or if I babble incoherently. Had two clerks misunderstand me, so I guess it’s the latter.
….Yes, to answer your question, things are getting better, and laundry is nearly caught up! Then again, now I hear a great racket in the kitchen and I just know that little people are dismantling my cupboard. Am afraid to look. Katy just brought me a pickle jar. So glass could be involved now. Better go look…. oh dear, what a mess.
….Katy just wet herself all over my lap. I give up. Good night.[/box_light]
Is laundry a hopeless task? It certainly felt like it that day. A mother’s vocation is usually not very glamorous.
One of my favorite authors reminds me that “vocation is played out not just in extraordinary acts — the great things we will do for the Lord, the great success we envision in our careers someday — but in the realm of the ordinary. Whatever we face in the often humdrum present — washing the dishes, buying groceries, going to work, driving the kids somewhere, hanging out with our friends — this is the realm into which we have been called and in which our faith bears fruit in love. We are to love our neighbors — that is, the people who are actually around us, as opposed to the abstract humanity of the theorists. These neighbors constitute the relationships that we are in right now, and our vocation is for God to serve them through us.” (Gene Edward Veith, Jr. “God at Work – Your Christian Vocation in All of Life” p. 59.)
I wish I had read Dr. Veith’s quote on that winter day. But then reading books above the level of Dr. Seuss probably wasn’t in my vocation at that moment!