Thinking about doing…

This is me, standing at the kitchen sink, thinking about doing my laundry:

— no, of course I’m not going to post a picture, if I had, the caption would have to be, “This is me, taking a picture of myself standing at the kitchen sink, thinking about doing my laundry,” and that would have been just too meta for what I want to do –

…and, this is still me, standing at the stove, watching water boil, thinking about doing my laundry, and also, that I have clothes for at least two more days, maybe four if I ration and don’t spill anything on myself at meal time (could happen), and

— I’m also not posting a picture because, when I say, “This is me, standing at the kitchen sink, thinking about doing my laundry,” can you not see me, anyway? I bet you can—tell me, am I wearing grubby clothes, am I wrapped in a dressing gown, or am I dressed to kill? –

and I’m about to stop thinking about it and actually walk down the stairs into the basement and start DOING it – cross my heart – when Ender walks into the kitchen, so instead, I text Sean:

“Your son will not stop eating!”

and I boil a giant pot of noodles—wait for it to come to a boil—set the timer for eight minutes—and during those eight minutes, think about doing my laundry, draft this post, drink four sips of coffee, and

Ender: “These are very boring noodles. Aren’t you going to put anything in them?”

Jane: “No.”

I’m almost ready to go downstairs and sort the delicates from the “I don’t give a craps”—I rinse the pasta pot and the strainer, turn off the red hot element on the stove, remember my coffee, sit down, take a long luxurious sip, really, I could probably not do my laundry for five more days, and I’ll have gym stuff to wash on Thursday anyway, so is doing the laundry a necessity or a make-work project?

Ender: “I ate all my boring noodles. Is there more?”

Jane: “No.”

Ender: “Can you make more?”

Jane: “Here. Please eat this raw steak, and if you’re still hungry, fill up on cookies.”

This is me, in my bedroom, thinking about doing my laundry. The prognosis looks good: I’m actually looking at the laundry, and so I think if I manage to make myself sort it—actually even if I just dump it out on the floor—that might be the magic step that pushes it and me magically towards the washing machine. But I’m not quite there yet, I’m still resisting, because

Text from Sean: “Growth spurt? Or tapeworms?”

thinking about laundry and creating a story—painting with words, a portrait—of a woman standing at a kitchen sink thinking about doing her laundry

–can you not see her? She has bare feet, because she’s out of socks, but that’s okay, because she still has clean stockings, she’ll just wear those today instead, so does she really need to do that laundry?

is more interesting than, you know, engaging in the actual act.

Enough. I’m going to do it.

Jane: “Goddammit, who’s using the washing machine?”

Flora: “Me. Do you need it? I’ve got two loads to go.”

Jane: “You go right ahead.”

This is me, at the kitchen table, drinking hot coffee, writing about thinking about doing my laundry.



nbtb-thinking about laundry

On getting kids to do their own laundry, slime molds and deadlines


So it goes like this:

Cinder: Mooooom! I’m out of pajamas! And pants! And socks! And…

Jane: Cindeeeer! The washing machine is, I believe, empty and fully functional. Do a load, or go scavenge in your dirty clothes pile! I’m writing!

Cinder: I’ve already worn everything twice… Will you show me how you do the laundry again?

Jane: As soon as I… just ask Flora to show you.

Cinder: Flora knows how to do laundry?

Jane: She ran out of underwear on Sunday.

Interlude for the aspiring writers in the crowd: Once or twice a week, I get an email from a “I want to be a freelance writer!” asking me if I have any advice to impart. It boils down to this: Pitch. Query. Write. And when you get assignments, MEET YOUR DEADLINES (and if you break them, you’d better have a really good excuse, like… FLOOD! And even then, your editors will say, “So… if you get power back on Thursday, does that mean you might be able to file on Friday?”). MEET YOUR DEADLINES. And did I mention… MEET YOUR DEADLINES.

Awesome Dryerase Board

And then it goes like this:

Flora: Mooooom! What’s wrong with our sink?

Jane: Keee-rist, did Ender clog the drain with Lego again?

Flora: No, come look.

Jane: Sweetie, I really need to finish…

Cinder: Gah, Mom, you need to come see this.

Jane: This better be… Kee-rist. What the hell is that?

Flora: I think it’s a slime mold.

Jane: Is that moving?

Cinder: Sometimes, slime molds move.

Jane: That is not a slime mold. I doused the entire bathroom in cleaners and alcohol after we had the plague. I’ve only been neglecting the house for two weeks. Not enough time for a slime mold to..

Flora: Oh-my-god, it totally moved.

How you know we’re all a little whack:

Cinder: Should we take a picture?

Flora: Can I keep it for my museum?

Jane: I think if we leave it until Daddy gets home, he’ll deal with it.*

Interlude for the aspiring writers in the crowd: MEET YOUR DEADLINES. Deal with the slime mold later–or delegate.



PS I’m not reading anything not directly related to my billable work right now, my apologies to the blogosphere. Um, well, except for this. Have you read Jessica Olien’s Salon piece, Inside the Box: people don’t actually like creativity. Brilliant. Painfully true.

*He did. Cause he’s the best Daddy-husband-to-writer ever. And, if you’re wondering: it was just a blob of shampoo-toothpaste mixture, carefully sculpted by the Ender. Of course. Obvious, you’d think. But we sort of liked going with the whole moving slime mold thing…

The great thing about being a crappy housekeeper…

I slop dinner on the table–noodles in colander, sauce in the pan it was cooked in, cheese on the grating board it was grated on. Flora spreads the plates. Cinder searches for forks. “Success!” he hollers. “I’ve got five. Although, really, Flora and Ender would be just as happy eating with their fingers.” To prove the point, Ender grabs two handfuls of green beans and stuffs them in his gob. I don’t so much sit down as collapse into the chair. Sean joins us. Looks at the table. At us. And says one of those things for which I love and adore him.

“You made us supper! With the Ender! Oh, thank you!”

“Thank you, Mommy, for wonderful food!” says Ender.

“Supper is brought to you by Cinder,” Cinder announces. “There is no way Mom could have made supper if I hadn’t had a bath with Ender. And I don’t know if you heard what he was doing to me in the bath, but I’m covered with scratches in places no one should ever touch.”

“Thank you, Cinder,” I say, wearily. This all is really funny. A part of me knows it. The rest of me is just too tired.

The assorted slop is well-received. Everyone munches.

“I sorry,” says Ender suddenly. We all look up at him. “I sorry,” he repeats. “Me sit on table.” And indeed, there he is, sitting on the table. I sigh. I suppose I should parent.

“Where should you be sitting, monkey?” I ask. Wearily. I be tired. Is been a long day…

“On chair,” says Ender. “Tee hee hee.”

“I think he’s sitting on the table so he can see what’s in his bowl,” says Sean. “You know, so he can spear the stuff he wants?”

“I’m just happy he’s not throwing it at me,” says Cinder.

“Me too,” I agree. “Let him sit on the table.”

“Can I sit on the table?” says Cinder, starting to levitate his bohunkus.

“No,” I don’t even think about it. I have standards. I do.

“Thank you for wonderful supper, Mommy!” Ender sings out. He knows he’s getting away with something. Gives me a beatific smile.

“And you put away all the laundry too,” enthuses Sean.

(The great think about being a really crappy housekeeper: the least effort on your part is appreciated in spades. Do your kids celebrate when they have clean pajamas in the drawers and clean cups in the cupboard? Mine do. Ha!)

“I did,” I say. I intercept Ender as he tries to stuff two noodles simultaneously into his nose. “Want to know why?” No one really wants to know why, that is clear, but they love me, so they will indulge me.

“I was in the bathroom.” Peeing. I have to pee, you know. And I like to do it alone. Sigh. But it has a price. It means I leave him alone. Just long enough… “And Ender opens the door and comes in. And says…

Mama? I find laundry basket on landing. I throw it down the stairs. Then I jump on it and pee on it. Are you angry?

And so… I folded and put away all the laundry.”

And this is how you know that I really am a crappy housekeeper, because Sean’s immediate reaction:

Um… was it my laundry? And did you fold  and put away the peed-on laundry without re-washing it?

You’ll never know, darling. You’ll never know.

Photo: Woman doing laundry in Chennai, India (Wikipedia)

English: Woman doing laundry in Chennai, India...