My to do list is like the laundry: every time I think I've done it all, the day's underwear sneaks back in and foils me.
I hate doing laundry, but every other week or so I become obsessed with conquering it, beating it back, folding and returning it all to the order of the drawers and closets. As if by getting to the end of the wire basket, all right-ness will have been restored to my house and a sense of fulfillment will settle into the air like the scent of tossed dryer sheets.
I can visualize the end goal: I've done the colors, done the kids tops and bottoms, the towels, the dresses, even the dog bed. I've given cleanliness and open floor space and good smelling pjs back to the family I love. Oh look at me, the caring mother, the accomplished homemaker, the helpful wife. Check, check, check.
The problem with that lies somewhere in the midst of the second spin cycle, however. The truth hides like a dark sock in a sea of whites. I am not those things, not hardly ever. Really I am a distracted mother, a negligent homemaker, a useless wife.
I'm also a procrastinator, a workaholic, a true Type A, awash in an ocean of responsibility trying to cleanse and fold and sort all manners of my life. To fit them into multiple washing machines at the same time: The marketing agency in the trusty top loader. The app company in the untested new stackable. Motherhood in the oversize, always running, always needing more soap, yet always giving back extra socks washer. And let's not forget (though we already have) the wifely duties pile, sitting outside the washers for far too long with no extra space in any machine and no one moving it up the priority list.
My days are an orchestration of the smooth efficiency of all those machines, all those loads. I'm forever trying to perfect the composition and improve the balance and increase output. I'm trying desperately to keep up, endlessly aiming to get to a point where all those baskets - all those lists - will be empty. With every item fully cared for. With everything in it's proper place and ready to go back over someone's head or tuck into a bed.
Getting there would bring a rare moment of stillness for me. One moment of pause without the whirring and filling back up, without the clothes and the needs and the decisions to be attended to. I think if I could get there, I might feel the order that so frequently eludes me. I might be satisfied with my accomplishments. I might even be enough.
But always, there is that new pair of dirty underwear. The pjs from last night crumpled on the stairs. The towel from where the dog peed on the floor. Empty laundry baskets are an allusion in my life, like a sound night's sleep or an empty inbox and, yet, I'm forever seeking them.
I'm always returning to the machines when deep down I know that the very act itself distracts me from the things I really should do, the meaningful order and accomplishment awaiting above the basement. The kids with their half-cobbled together puzzle on the floor. The strategic plan that is missing the pillar messaging. The app advertising model that if cracked, might make all the difference.
I hear their calls but still, I hide behind those heaping baskets because it's safer. Easier on my brain. Less wrought with risk or failure. The job at hand is straightforward: wash, dry, sort, deliver. Repeat and repeat and repeat.
If repetition is the mother of skill, and I just keep washing, then one day I might become a master entrepreneur, attentive wife, and homey mother. If I keep trying, I might just find all the answers folded somewhere in between the sheets and the sweaters.