Friday, January 24, 2014

The laundry

Today was not off to the best start. Yesterday was a rough one in which the kids and I spent all our time indoors, walking around our two rooms and the bathroom and trying to occupy ourselves with the toys that we had. We looked out the window a few times, hosted a friend for coffee and rearranged the toys more times than I care to remember. Yousef had fallen twice within the first two hours of the day and my energy was low and so I had little patience with myself and the kids. The weather being cloudy and snowing did not help anything either. So today I was recovering from having fallen asleep at 9:00 pm and woken up for the day by Yousef again before I was ready.

It was early, the sun was not up yet and I had not had my morning silence before the kids entered the picture. I was not off to my best behavior. Then I remembered what I had read: "what are you doing TODAY to make you feel they way you want to feel?" and it stopped me in my tracks. I was feeling jealous, I was feeling sad, I was plain down. But suddenly I remembered that is not what I want to be feeling. I remembered what I had written down in pencil on a piece of scrap paper and the fog lifted. I felt empowered. And so I did something to make me feel less imprisoned and more "liberated." I did something that made me feel "in control" and "light". I did the LAUNDRY!

Yes, I did two loads of laundry!

Now you might think what has got the laundry to do with anything. I will tell you....

I had been staring at the dirty laundry growing in the small bathroom for over a week. Every day Jeff and I decide to get it taken care of, and every day it does not happen. I move it from the bathroom to the living room in the morning and back to the bathroom in the evening in frustration. I empty it out of the kids' baby tub at bath time and reload it when they are done in frustration. I look at it and ponder how I am going to carry a tubful of dirty clothes down four flights of stairs, walk it down the street and around the bend, then carry it down more stairs to the laundry basement with a baby and a 4 year old. It chills me to think that with all my physical being I am incapable of doing my own laundry and am dependent on Jeff's help to have clean clothes. So today I decided I was going to make it work. It was my challenge for the day ~ sad to think that the simplest of tasks has turned into the biggest of challenges, but that is my new reality and I have no choice but to take it.

I took a deep breath in, put my coat over my short-sleeve shirt, bundled JR and Yousef up and headed out. Had I stopped to think about my plan longer I would have given up on it and so I moved on. I left JR and her brother at home to carry the tub down the stairs. I balanced it on the stroller, pushed the stroller out the first set of doors and then the next and parked it on the driveway. Then, I went back up for the kids, carried one down and held the other's hand. When finally outside, I balanced Yousef on my shoulder to push the stroller with my free hand all the while making sure JR kept up with me. It was cold and I wanted to hustle them out of the elements. We made it through second base, now to get everyone and everything down to the basement. Kids first, then the laundry. Phase one complete; the laundry is in the machines. Now for breakfast and to ponder phases two and three.

One hour later we were headed back out to check on the clothes. This time I was too lazy and did not bundle Yousef up. Instead I wore him in the carrier and wrapped him with a big coat. Luckily the sun was out and JR was excited to play outside. Of course we had forgotten her bucket and shovel and had to make one more trip up the stairs for those. But both her and I were thankful for the fresh air and the sunshine. The clothes were now ready to be transferred to the dryer. JR did not want to take part in this and instead opted to wait outside for me and "help" the handyman shovel the snow. Fortunately, we live in a safe community where I can leave my child unaccompanied for a brief amount of time with a complete stranger. She had a blast and I got the job done. Now that the wet clothes were getting dry I realized I had not thought through phase three; getting the clean clothes back up the stairs and into our apartment. It is one thing to chug dirty laundry, it is another to transport clean ones. I hit a wall. Then I got a gift! There was another person in the laundry room and she did not mind watching the kids. I had two free hands to carry my load to home base. I was thankful.

JR by now had had enough fresh air and was hungry and so we all headed back. The laundry had taken up close to three hours of our time. We were cold and tired and so we huddled underneath a warm clean sheet and rested. It felt good to be together. Yousef nursed, JR ate and I just sat there and looked at my achievement. I had done it; it will be another week before I, or Jeff, have to go through another cycle again. How did it make me feel? Satisfied. Accomplished. Empowered. It was a small thing, but many times it is the little things.

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