I have done hundreds of thousands of loads of laundry over my lifetime. First at home, I started at eight years of age doing them one load at a time for my family so my Mom wouldn't have to. I must be honest, I hated the job. There was my Dad's laundry so filthy that you had to rinse it in the sink first and the hired cousins laundry that had come to work for the Summers on the Farm and help my Dad. Pig smell and cow smell was abundant. I can remember wondering if when I went to school, was I so immune to the smell of all of our laundry? Did I smell like the barn? I don't think I did but it was always something I wondered about.
Now years later after twenty plus years of doing baby laundry, toddler laundry, young child boy laundry, and teen boy laundry; I am once again sorting clothing this morning and doing laundry. Yet this morning is a bit different, I notice this sons or that and after awhile I really start to look at each article of clothing I pull out of the hampers. Every article seems to tell a story, I haven't been paying enough attention! I know each and every sock and tee, I ponder that everyone is folded exactly the same way when I take them out of the dryer but here, sorting them for the washer, they all have a distinct personality...
As I come across socks folded together in a pair and jeans and shirt folded neatly in half laid in the hamper I know they are Paul's. Not just because I know his jeans and shirts but because of how they lay. I hope to be seeing these for many more years to come, my neat ~ sweet~ precise husband. His clothes reflect the man, not too flashy and every color smelling of hard work and happiness to me. It makes me smile every time I catch a whiff, and his socks folded so neat make me chuckle, to me it seems silly as they will be unfolded and lost to each other in the wash anyway but to him its practical, and that is my love, my heart. Where I am whimsy he is down to earth, my perfect partner for life.
As I unload another basket the similarity is sometime breathtaking. It steals my breath to see the jeans folded in half and laid in the hamper, how similar to his Daddy this next basket is. Oh, socks are not folded just so and the work out clothes could literally stand up of their own accord, but for the most part they are still neat and orderly even in the hamper. As I wash the quilt, I reminisce and see the little red curls peaking out of the covers, the quilt is threadbare now and even though he has a new one he still will never let this one go, it is his favorite thin or not and he sleeps better with it. This son takes comfort in the little things in life, he exalts in physical competitiveness and is a hard worker no matter what he does, this is evident in all articles of clothing. The jeans are the same brand and style he has worn for years, his tee shirts are most athletic brand and his socks are low and no show as he doesn't like things on his ankles. This child is not one for change, he never minds being alone and is happy with who he is and confident and secure in who's hands his life is in. God plays a huge role in his life everyday and he lives his life that way too, it shows in the care he takes to prolong the life of his clothes and in the ones that are thread bare and he hesitates to get rid of.
I move onto the next laundry hamper. this one makes me chuckle because typically it isn't only one but two bulging hampers overflowing with clothing spurting out from every possible niche. There are dress shirts and vests and jeans and name brand clothing. These jeans are almost taller then I am and look a little strange with the tiny little waists and insanely long inseam. There is every color under the rainbow with a lot of turquoise and black. The socks are typically inside out and I am lucky if all have a mate when I am done. This is the way this son lives his life, carefree and never sweating the small stuff~ and to him the majority of it is small stuff. The son is like the wardrobe cheerful and bright, having a smile for almost everyone. His song is a constant hum and there is always music when this son is in the house, but beware if someone is treated unfairly or he sees and injustice his mood can turn as dark as his black slacks. The heart is huge on this son and it is not a wonder how his favorite color is red. The one most like me that leads with his heart is so much more then me. Teaching this child to beware and careful of others and when not to get involved even when your heart wants to was heart wrenching for us both, and I tear up thinking of all he is and has become. This son will live life to the fullest letting God shine through him singing his praises with every breath. When I fold a fuzzy blanket, I think of my cuddle boy. He always has been and I am pretty sure he always will be, he has never been and will never be afraid to hold his Mommies hand or cuddle and lay his head in her lap.
The next laundry basket is full of camo and clothing thrown in, half of it inside out and it looks like he literally ran out of them. I lovingly turn them right side out and sort them into all the dark piles. Clothing in this basket is dirtier then all the others and there are flashes of an older brother. The athletic gear is so much alike this son has labeled everything of his with a larger permanent marker A on all the tags. He lives life just like his clothing indicates~ at FULL SPEED! This son teases his way through every situation and his sensible working ethic is visible in every dirt spot and smudge. He longs to be independent and work with the dirt. Own a truck and play country music as loud as he likes. His jeans are long and lean just like he is. He loves adventure and hunting and his clothing reflects this side as if he was in them and I was seeing him through the mirror image. The socks are long and waded up in a ball, and remind me this son wears cowboy boots with pride and the belt loops are all stretched out from his belts and buckles that seem to be his signature He wears them all with pride sporting Dodge, Case IH and John Deere at his waist. This too is a reflection, he would live under a car with his Dad teaching him if he could. As I spray the oil spots with dawn dish soap to remove them I smile a little at the thought of my mechanical young teen and his growing and changing everyday as he becomes a young man.
I am done with all the baskets but there is noticeably a color from the laundry missing. I take a walk down the hall making sure to bring a basket with me, I open the door on the first room to my left. There spread before me is a sea of orange covering the floor. I start to pick up articles of sweat pants and orange shirts and socks. Today I actually laugh out load and don't get frustrated with the lack of cleanliness. This is the youngest of four, my baby although they are all my babies and I still think of them in that way, but this one reminds me daily that HE is the BABY and he loves being so. As I pick up the clothing I am reminded less then 6 months ago this little round short guy was my peanut, now the clothing is longer and leaner. He enjoys clothing that on anyone else would clash with their hair but for him, it is just fitting. He gravitates toward anything and everything orange even his underwear. I am reminded of this as I pick up gray socks with orange stripes because of the argument we just had in the store when I thought just plain gray was the perfect color and would not clash with all the orange, he on the other hand was not convinced. We ended up buying the socks with a orange stripe. The smile on his face as he walked out of the store with his package was a priceless gift to me, something I will always remember.
All the clothing is on the floor in various piles and there is a load in the washer and the dryer. I look around and I instantly tear up, my family is here. No not in the physical sense but instead I can see each of them through the years, they parade in my minds eye through the years, their grins and smiles and even some tears. I am so incredibly blessed! The beauty of laundry has now just dawned on me, a labor of love that reminds me how very fortunate I am. They may all be very different and all are on different paths but the love, yeah the love is just the same.
PSALM 19: 7-14