I Wish I Knew More about How the World Works

The Symbolism of the Laundry

I just did a load of laundry. One bath towel. One blouse. Three tee shirts. One tee shirt-pajama top. Three pairs of undies. One bra. One pair of jeans. One cloth napkin. Two kitchen towels. A white wash is in the machine. I think there are four white shirts in that load.

The laundry is hanging to dry on a portable air dryer on the terrace.

Before May 16th, the last time I did a laundry for one, was in the apartment where I lived in Ramat Gan (a suburb-city outside of Tel Aviv) before I got married. Since then I have done thousands of loads for two, then for three, then for four.

Then for three, when I no longer did his laundry. He started doing his own laundry when I stopped folding his undies. The idea of touching them disgusted me and so I left them in a pile on the bed. I guess he got the message.

Then for two, when I no longer did younger daughter’s laundry. She took the modern version of home ec last year and once she had to do laundry as part of her class, she decided that she was going to keep doing it for herself. And she has stuck with that.

Then for one, when older daughter moved to California. She did her first load out there, all by herself. Apparently it’s not so hard and she has managed. Though I do think that younger daughter showed her how to do it before she left.

I’m glad I had all those endless piles of clothes to wash. I’m glad I got to care for loved ones in so basic a way. I loved folding clothes; such a simple way to nourish and nurture. And I loved doing the wash, such an obvious accomplishment. And now I’m glad that I only need to do my little loads that go into the small-capacity machine in this apartment.

It’s very insightful, doing just my own laundry. I see how much I bought things for them and not for myself. I see how my clothes are brighter than I thought they were. I see the continuity of life. Their lives. And mine. 



With four sons, I never had a basket of clothes; it was more like a mountain. And like you, I did it gladly, revelling in motherhood and being needed. They are all grown and are in charge of their own laundry now.
Before the last one left, I was still doing hubby's laundry, but he kept insisting that I must be giving his socks to the kid because he was losing all his.
When he announced, "That's it! I'm doing my own laundry from now on!" I just smiled and said,"OK."
So, now I do my laundry and the house laundry and even though there are no more sons here for me to give socks to, husband still does his own laundry - sometimes life is good like that. :)


Laundry and meal prep - both symbolic of change.

Laura of Rebellious Thoughts of a Woman

rockync, now we need laundry detergent commercials with men having orgasms over how clean their shirts are.

Beth, I cooked for myself for the first time the other day (instead of takeout). Now I just need to figure out the quantities--I have a freeze full of single serving dishes now.

Bonnie Krauss

When my husband and son take their annual trip to the cottage for the summer, I actually miss having that quantity of laundry to do. I never understood why...


That's lovely Laura. I have never felt that charitable about the laundry. Though I have a friend who does her children's laundry until they move out. I have DD help me with her laundry. And expect that she'll be doing it herself by middle school.

As the oldest child in a Catholic family, I had no idea how to cook for one when I moved out of my parents home. And I ended up with about a dozen frozen spaghetti portions in my freezer, and anything else I tried to cook. For months. I did finally figure it out.


Laundry for one, I have to say, I'm a little envious.

Anna Lefler

What a lovely post! Love the life lesson...

:-D Anna


That's a very good way to look at it. Where I live there's a laundry room on a hill and is a pain to get to. There's a symbolic thing to that I'm sure.

Liz A.

Great perspective.

I knew I was married, really, really married, actions intertwined married when I was folding mens' underwear. I was folding as normal, and I pick up a pair of briefs..."Yep, I'm married."

Luckily, he's very appreciative of his fresh smelling laundry and realizes it's not the clean shirt fairy that magically hangs those in the closet every week.

Laura of Rebellious Thoughts of a Woman

Bonnie, hopefully you enjoy the break in the routine. It must be lovely for everyone, that time at the cottage.

Christine, times are a'changing and what shows we care changes as well.

JC, send the boys off on a trip for a few days. Of course, they'll come back with even more laundry. Maybe you can present it as a science experiment to your son.

Anna, lessons everywhere, and sometimes learning as well.

Ricardo, when we lived in NY for a while I had to go to a laundrymat. I didn't mind it so much, until exman was at home studying for the bar and never lifted a load of laundry. Laundry over a hill. Hmmm, you really do have a charming apartment.

Liz A., clean shirt fairy--lovely idea. Does she iron too?

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