Today is laundry day. Most of the time I really don’t mind the laundry all that much, and for some reason I kind of like baby laundry, although I’m not sure why that’s so. Today, though, I hate the laundry. In this moment, I feel like laundry is a metaphor for my life – and not in a good way.
Laundry is one of those things that has to be done. It’s always there, and before I even finish today’s laundry I’ll have new laundry that needs washing. I can’t put it off or else it’ll pile up and I’ll have even more work to do later (not to mention that everyone else in the house will suffer if they don’t have clean clothes to wear). I have to keep one ear listening for the finished laundry at all times, because we don’t have a working buzzer on our dryer. Then, when the dryer is done, I have to stop whatever it is that I’m doing and go fold the laundry – otherwise everything will wrinkle and look horrible. I am always doing the laundry, but the laundry is never done.
That’s how I feel about my life today. My days are filled with tasks that I have to keep up with (or the rest of the people in my house will suffer), but there’s no end in sight. I have to keep a constant eye out for the “buzzer” – Sarah Kate could regress, Nathan could start to show delays that haven’t surfaced yet – so that I can jump on whatever the issue is right away. That’s just the Special Needs angle – there’s also the Typical angle of feeling like I can never finish a task because it’s time for Nathan to eat, or be changed, or woken up to go to pick up Sarah Kate at school.
I think what I’m feeling about my laundry life would probably be typical of any mom who is 40 with a 7 year old and a 7 month old. Sometimes it’s just hard to be a mom, and our culture that values independence and isolated nuclear families (versus multigenerational living arrangements seen in some other cultures) makes it even more difficult. Currently, Sarah Kate is taking guitar lessons and doing swim team – pretty typical things that take time and run moms ragged. She goes to private therapy and we do in-home exercises, as well. Kids activities are good – I’m not knocking them – but (with the exception of guitar) her activities aren’t really “optional”. Yes, she has a good time, and yes, she acquires some new skills, but for me, swim team isn’t swim team – it’s therapy hidden behind a fun activity (kind of like drowning veggies in ranch dressing so the kids will eat them). Exercises and stretching are made to look like a workout that mom does, but their ultimate aim is – you guessed it – therapy.
Maybe as you’re reading this you’re thinking I’m throwing a pity party (and maybe I am). I constantly say that my kids are more like other kids than they are different, and that goes for me, as well. I’m more like other moms than I am different. I really don’t feel different (most of the time), and I don’t hate my life or wish it was different (most of the time). Occasionally a day comes along, though, that makes me want to escape from the never ending list of “have to” and feel like I have some options. I want to accomplish something, instead of just complete tasks. I want to say “we need a break” and Just.Not.Go to swim team or therapy and instead go to Chick-fil-A with my family. I want to say “I need a break” and take a book and go to the beach and just sit in a chair all day long and not talk to anyone or do anything at all. I want to spend quality time with my husband – not end-of-the-day-we’re-happy-everyone’s-asleep-so-we-can-go-to-sleep-too time, but time like we used to spend in our kayaks or on the bike or road tripping to I don’t even remember where.
But I can’t do those things most of the time, and on the rare occasion that I do have the chance to do those things, there’s always the mom guilt. Am I pushing my kids enough? Are they getting what they need? Is there more I could be doing?
It’s like the laundry. It never ends.