The Laundry Maven

The writer is in the house...and the house desperately needs the laundry maven.
The writer, looking for time to scoop up as her own, has been negotiating with the laundry maven. The writer believes she can cope with laundry by doing a load every other day.

When I opened Liam’s jean drawer on Wednesday morning, it was empty.
“You did the wrong load on Monday!” shrieks the laundry maven. That woman is downright crazy.

But I KNOW there is a pair of clean jeans here because Tuesday night I asked Liam to fold his jeans and put them in the drawer. We are trying hard to break the wear-it-once mode. The maven questioned Liam. He was clueless and confused and not concerned. “They are not in your drawer!” accused the laundry maven. We both looked and could find them nowhere – not in the dirty clothes basket, not on beds, not in the wrong drawer. We scrambled to the “wrinkled” basket and found a pair of sweats.

Anticipating the writer’s long overdue return, the laundry maven had been working overtime: First moving her mindset from having toddlers to having capable 6- & 8- year-old boys, then delegating responsibilities. The art of changing sheets can be enjoyed by the entire family, with the help of Bill’s long arms for beds against walls. The challenge of inside out clothes has been handled accordingly: However it goes into the wash is how it returns clean. The crew needed tips on handling inside out shirts, jeans, and underwear, but after a few practice sessions on solving these puzzles, it’s working with only occasionally tags on the outside.

After the Wednesday morning school shuffle, the maven returns to determine the most advantageous load of laundry.

Oh my dear lord, she can’t see the floor in the laundry room. Walking on the mounds, toward the washer, she begins the double sort. With Liam’s eczema, the boys’ clothes need to be washed separately without Downy. This doubles the number of loads to go through one cycle of Doing Laundry.

She digs through the bins. Grown-up jeans sorted on top of boy jeans! The mysteries of her world begin to unravel as she lifts the lid to toss in the boy jeans. But there’s a spun-out wet load in there. Sighing, she takes the headband from her jeans and pulls her hair back into a ponytail; then she mechanically opens the dryer to help the wet load continue its journey. Behind door #2 is a load of dry wrinkled clothes – boys’ darks. Translated, that means ten shirts and 300 little dark blue socks. Since it’s already wrinkled, it can easily be dumped into a laundry basket.

Honestly, why would she expect an empty laundry basket to be in the laundry room? The maven hand-carries the load to the guest bed and finds her way back to the laundry room by following a trail of little blue socks. At last, both machines are happily whirring away.

The laundry maven must retire as the chess club organizer needs to get to school. The laundry maven hands her a pair of sweatpants. “Remember? Will has karate before chess and you couldn’t find any sweatpants this morning.”

After chess, I herd the boys’ out of Will’s classroom and eye a rumpled pair of jeans lying in the middle of the floor. I recognize them as belonging to the Malcolm household. I snag the jeans and the laundry maven proudly smiles at my discovery. She does not like missing clothes. While the boys settle in the van, she picks up the jeans, turns them right-side out, and holds them up to fold them.

She’s stunned. Dazed. Confused. “Will… where did you get these?”

“I took them out of Liam’s drawer this morning. There weren’t any in my drawer.” The maven belly laughs and shakes her head, delighted that he is such a resourceful 8-year-old.

At home that night, the exhausted laundry maven hands the writer her pencil and journal. The writer looks at the blank page not knowing where to start.