Sunday, April 8, 2012

Rightness in the Mundane

I don't know if he always did it, but for as long as I can remember, my dad wore the same "uniform" to work almost every day. Jeans and a button-up shirt with a white t-shirt underneath. This meant that my mom seemed to be folding white undershirts every single time she did laundry. I can clearly remember helping her fold while we sat on the floor of the family room watching something like The Cosby Show or Family Ties. She never complained that my dad wasn't there folding his own t-shirts, she just took care of what needed to get done and then moved on to the next thing.

I thought of my mom this past week when I found myself creating a stack of Mr. W's undershirts. It was the middle of the day; he was at work; I could hear Barefoot Contessa making something for Jeffrey in the other room. I felt like a strangely merry housewife.

I didn't feel resentful that I was helping with his laundry—something that's become a pretty regular task since he's been working such long hours. I felt almost appreciative. Don't barf, I know it sounds strange and a bit like something a Stepford Wife would say. 

But in that moment, I recognized what might be a similarity between our relationship and my parents': a mutual desire to take care of each other and help the other one out, without expectation. That's how it worked in my house growing up. I don't ever remember my mom nagging my dad to do things or getting mad when she had to do things for him. And the same went for him. They had established a beautifully choreographed dance where they gave and received in unspoken harmony, paying back and paying forward year after year after year. They celebrated their 48th wedding anniversary in February, by the way.

The gratitude I felt while folding that stack of Hanes came from knowing Mr. W and I might hit a marker like that one day if we keep up the dance like my parents have done. And it came just from knowing that if those were my shirts in the dryer, he'd fold them for me, too. He's done it many times.

He wrapped his movie last Thursday, so (for awhile at least) he'll be home with me during the day now. I will still fold his shirts if he needs me to. And although I've given him a few honey-do's to tackle during his hiatus, I know he'd probably take care of stuff all on his own.

We might learn some new give-and-take dance steps being here together every single day. Hopefully we'll both be able to continue finding gratefulness as we go about our little lives.


  1. Sometimes I get asked what I miss most about being married. I always answer, "my laundry being done for me." They laugh and say "No, really." I say, "I wear white undershirts every day."

    Perhaps that is why I am divorced now. I sure wish somebody would fold my shirts for me though.

  2. I don't understand it either, but I get a strange pleasure out of doing Christophe's laundry, too. Like he's visiting me during the day through his t-shirts. Quiet, calm company.

  3. @Wow That Was Awkward: I think you can pay someone to do that for you.

  4. I think appreciation for the little things, no matter how it comes, is a big deal. And, seemingly, a little secret to strength in a relationship.

  5. surrogate big sisApril 9, 2012 at 9:52 AM

    When you start lying out the "flat man".... BEWARE!

  6. Wow TWA - My brother-in-law was still sort of dating someone when he met my sister. When my sis brought it up, he said, "Oh there's nothing going on there, she just does my laundry." If it worked for him, you could totally make it work for you.

    Janice - I'm picturing you doing that whilst absentmindedly drinking a glass of wine and munching on a fresh baguette.

    Mandy - Good point. Maybe someday I'll pay somebody to do it for me and Mr. W.

    Lesley G - I think it is. When you stop appreciating, expectation and resentment creep in.

    Surrogate Sis - Thankfully I don't think I'll ever have to lay out the flat man. Mr. W was single long enough that he knows how to dress himself. My dad, however...different story.

    Sizzle - I bet you do the same thing. :)

  7. Very sweet memories that you have created watching the everyday life of Ozzie and Harriet. I doubt very much I would ever have seen your dad fold my clothes out of the dryer. He does not even know where the washer and dryer are located. However, he makes up for it because he does do the vacuuming. That is his favorite indoor man tool!
    Thanks for the compliments and I do know Mr. W. does alot of work in the kitchen for you.

  8. I am cracking up at your mom's comments. You wax poetic about your parents marriage and she smashes some truths right back at you. hahaha. But, that's the beauty of marriage - they don't have to be perfect give and take, nor do they have to be perfect in order to provide a long time of happiness!

  9. I have been dressing myself for 68 years!

  10. "They had established a beautifully choreographed dance where they gave and received in unspoken harmony, paying back and paying forward year after year after year."

    Loved this line--exactly the way it works.

    I often am rather vocal about wanting a wife for myself. I want her to cook and launder and dust and she better be cute and wear lipstick and make a mean bloody mary....

  11. i don't think my wife would ever let me be responsible for folding clothes, or making dinner.

    the first, because she knows i'll do it wrong, and the last, because i'd probably end up killing her with food poisining..

  12. Mom - Not only does he vacuum, he builds you furniture whenever you want and he constantly indulges your desire to repaint and redecorate. AND he lets you hoard! I definitely think the score is even there.

    Nilsa - Humor is definitely the key! :)

    Dad - You're a very big boy.

    Chantel - My sister and I joke about wanting wives all the time. I would like one who cleans and rubs my shoulders. :)

    Slyde - Haha best you stay out of the kitchen then, my friend.

  13. I love it that you take pause to appreciate the little things. They are truly the big things. xo


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