When I first started this stay-at-home gig, I was very regimented on how I did things.
Monday was grocery shopping day. Tuesday I would clean the house. Wednesday I’d cut the grass and do my outdoor chores. Thursday was laundry day, and Friday was left open for any miscellaneous activities. Also, on most days we’d have a long walk down by the river so Ellie could nap. And then during the afternoon, I’d throw her in the baby carrier while I started dinner. At the time, that was the only way to get her to fall asleep for her afternoon nap. So with all that, I made myself a pretty busy guy.
But over time, and as summer faded into fall, and then into winter, I got lazy. Really lazy. But with spring here, I’m feeling motivated to get back on track. First thing on the schedule is laundry. Friday will now be the designated laundry day. Nothing like starting the weekend out fresh, right?
Laundry isn’t hard; it’s just annoying. My wife, Aya, primarily did the laundry before. We had settled into our own routines and chores and this happened to be one of hers. She also happens to have a strong opinion on how it’s done (and that’s just a nicer way of saying, “control freak”). But I’ve taken it over now, and I do things my own way.
There is always a list of instructions with her clothes: “This goes in the dryer, but that doesn’t. Put this in a laundry net and hang dry. Dry this on low, but everything else can be on medium. Wash this on gentle and that on normal.”
Huh? What? I went to college. I lived on my own. I know how to do laundry. But when I was doing laundry on my own, I never used the gentle cycle. Never! I either washed things on hot or cold, and never had any trouble.
To complicate matters, my wife is Japanese. And with her being Japanese, she has some Japanese clothes with Japanese labels. Which means, I can’t read them. What did she say again? Dry that, and hang dry this? I’ll look at the label hoping I’d be able to read it. Then I’ll try to decipher the pictograms on the back instead. But they don’t make any sense either. What does a picture of a crossed out flame mean? Don’t dry over fire pit?
So I developed a new rule: Anything with a Japanese label gets washed on cold and is hung dry. And anything of hers that’s not a T-shirt or jeans gets washed in one of those laundry nets she insists on using. It seems to be working so far.
I find it ironic that with her being the laundry expert, she’s ruined at least three items of my clothes, while I have ruined nothing of hers. Just sayin’.
Once I get everything washed, the next task is folding. Again, Aya has her own system of how things get folded. Even though I’m running the show now, I follow the system she set up.
For my clothes, it’s easy: T-shirts get your basic trifold, long sleeve button-ups go on hangers, jeans get folded in-half then in-half again, and my underwear gets the ol’ fold and roll.
But with her clothes, you need a degree to be able to fold that stuff. For one, she doesn’t have two of the same types of things. Everything is in a different shape and with a different material. It’s like folding a fitted sheet for your mattress. Nobody knows how to fold those. You can try, but it never works. And then when it comes to her underwear, she wants two folds and a roll. How do you do this with those things? As soon as you roll them, they unroll. Maybe it’s only a woman’s skill.
One day, my mom was over watching Ellie for a few hours and I had a basket of clean laundry in the living room. She had folded it for me. “I folded your laundry for you. I hope Aya doesn’t mind I folded her panties.” Ugh. Panties? That is the creepiest word. And to hear your own mother say it, in reference to your wife’s underwear (shudders). Mom, don’t call them that. “What? Panties?” Yes, don’t say that word. “Why, that’s what they are. They’re panties. What’s wrong with panties?” You keep saying it, that’s what’s wrong! “Panties panties panties.” AHHH!
Anyways, not only did my mom fold Aya’s underwear, but she folded it exactly how Aya would have done it herself. How’d she keep it from unrolling? How’d she know? It must be a woman thing.
Now that I think I have everything folded, here comes Ellie, my big “helper.” She takes out half the things I folded and brings them to me with a big smile. “Here dad, fold this.” So I refold most of the laundry, but this time I put the finished product out of reach. I go through this every time. You’d think I would learn, but I don’t. Or maybe I secretly like this little laundry dance we do.
Finally, everything is folded. Except for all of my wife’s misshapen clothes that I neatly placed in a ball on the top of the basket. And that’s where my job ends. I don’t have the qualifications or the proper training to pull off operation “putting the clothes away.” I can put my socks away, and hang my shirts in my closet, but other than that, I’m not qualified. Everything in the drawers has its precise place and arrangement. I wouldn’t dare disrupt it. Also, my wife’s closet is her sanctuary. It has hot pink walls, a hot pink rug and a vanity with a bedazzled mirror. Oh, and lots of shoes. Lots. The color is so loud it makes a humming sound. It’s just best that I keep out of there.
After I finish washing Ellie’s clothes, the towels and the sheets, I’m finally done. And then, oops, Ellie leaks, and the whole cycle starts all over again. Good thing it’s Friday.