Laundry Man

Pixabay, laundry room, suspenseHe was a teenager. That’s the first bit of information I should share with you before you judge me.

From the age of 13 to 15, he changed from a huggable, lovable son who bought  me flowers to a changing-voiced male who thought that most of what I said was either simple, silly, or just plain stupid.

I understood. After all, I wasn’t ancient enough to not remember how I felt as a teen.

Fortunately, to the outside world my son was sociable and funny, quick-witted, showing off his dimples often. Top grades at school, enough that it was a struggle to get him to sit at the table and study.

Everything came easy to him. But at home, Sonny Boy was disgruntled and moody. Chores? Snores. The idea of a family vacation was gruesome to him, whether a weekend skiing or even a week at a tropical island.

But I persevered. Glimmers of his natural tenderness showed through now and then. I knew that once he got through the far side of adolescence, I’d have my son back.

But. Then. washer and dryer, laundry

As always, I did the family laundry. One load of whites, one load of colors, two days a week until Sonny hit 13 and his clothes more stinky. I added another laundry day.  I washed, dried, folded, and delivered a pile of clean clothes to each family member.

One afternoon, after school and before dinner, Sonny stomped into the kitchen where he found me preparing our always-on-Monday spaghetti dinner. “My blue jeans are wrinkled!” he protested.

“What?” I turned to him, spatula in hand, confused by the expression on his face. “Your blue jeans…” I repeated after him.

Pixabay, Pezibear, blue jeans, teenager“You folded them wrong!” Sonny said.

Oh Lordy. I didn’t stop to wonder why he suddenly cared about his appearance. I didn’t notice the soft fuzz that shadowed below his nose. But I did feel a long deep rumble of anger grow from my belly to my mouth.

In a soft contained voice I suggested: “You are absolutely right. I did not do the laundry to your liking.”

Sonny nodded a bit of a “see?” agreement.

“Therefore,” I continued, “you are in charge of your own laundry from now on.”

My dear son’s mouth opened wide. “But I don’t even know how…”

“You’re a smart young man. I’m sure you’ll figure it out.”

So, this is where you may judge me, dear reader. I never again cleaned my son’s clothes. And to be fair to him, he never complained.

When I visit him now in his big house with three active sons under the age of 10, I notice the large laundry room Sonny designed.

And I notice that his wife never enters that room.

laundry, dirty laundry, parenting

Son celebrates: clothes washed, dried, and folded!


168 thoughts on “Laundry Man

  1. I love this! You are a wise woman indeed and did a great favour to another woman. My first husband´s mother did everything for him so he was completely useless around the house. I taught my son how to do domestic chores. When she asked me why I wasn’t doing those things for him I said, “I don’t want to do to another woman what you did to me.” Later, he was a single dad for 5 years with no problem!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Wow, I like how you “tell it like it is,” Darlene. Too many kids these days have no idea how to make themselves a bowl of cereal, much less wash their dirty underwear. Best that they learn “domestic chores” sooner rather than later, and not expect someone else to do it for them! High fiving you, wise woman. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  2. What is there to judge? He’s lucky you did his laundry for as long as you did 😉
    Mine have been doing theirs since they are about that 13-14.
    And how wonderful that your now grown-up-and-now-a-father son does the laundry! Lucky daughter-in-law!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Great story!!! Lessons in love begin at home. Laundry is one of those things we will always have to do. It is a chore we need to learn how to do if we want clean clothes to wear! Learning early that all of these chores do take time and effort is a very good thing. As my sister says, “There are no dish fairies or clothes fairies to do the work that has to be done. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Haha. Wise sister you have. I thank my lucky stars that I have a washer/dryer at home to launder my clothes. Many people aren’t so lucky. I hope my “kids” and soon their kids understand the blessing of washing, drying, and folding. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

    • I don’t understand parents who insist on “doing it all” for their children into adulthood. A disservice to their kids, and to themselves! The teenage years are tough for all concerned, and its a sigh of relief when we all get through it in one piece (and with clean clothes). 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I did the same with my son when he was 13 . When I married my husband he was 33 and his mother still did his laundry . The first time he did his own laundry he poured a whole bottle of bleach into the wash machine. Everything turned pink.

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  5. I became very much a “go do it yourself” mom once the kids hit their middle teenage (read: miserable and sulky) years, and I know exactly the feelings that prompted this story. The next time we’re together, remind me of this post and I’ll tell you another laundry story. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I sure hope this story is true! If so, good for you! It’s not always fun when we learn life lessons when we are young (or even when we are older) but they are so important. My husband and I both do laundry, depending on who gets inspired so I imagine his mother (who had six children) might have encouraged some… ummm… independence in that area too.

    Liked by 2 people

    • This story is absolutely true, Janis. It was almost surreal, how my son picked up doing his own laundry quickly once it was placed in his lap. We were both happier with the result. I’m ashamed to say I have not had the same success with my guy. When I met him at the “old age” of 36 he’d been on his own for many years. Surprisingly, once we were housemates he forgot how to find the detergent, much less use it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Big hurrah for your son–and for you for holding him to it, the laundry that is.

    I am very familiar with the wiles of teen boys, those with more than peach fuzz and lowered voices. They are probably doing their own laundry as our son did before them. I love the layers of lessons here, far more than just laundry.

    To add: The sad tale of the beyond middle-aged male whose wife was hospitalized. Lo, and behold, he found himself in deep do-do. Though a captain of industry, he was befuddled about the washer dials, didn’t know how to operate the blamed thing and had to summon his daughter, who gave him the what-for. Uh-oh!

    Very cool, Pam!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Isn’t it strange how “doing the laundry” is only in the purview of the female kingdom to many? Hopefully times are a’changing, but in many households that I shall not name here, I notice that the wife/mother still does all the laundry. A disservice to all!

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Judge you? Oh no, never, my friend. Young men need to learn how to do their laundry, wash dishes, clean toilets, vacuum, and cook. Or someday they’ll look at their wives after 35 years of marriage and ask, “How do you run the dishwasher?” (Happened last week). Good for you for giving your son some wonderful life skills. Yay. Love the jumping photo, Pam. Awesome.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I smiled throughout as so many of us can relate to that moment when we became idiots. As you said, I remember doing the same thing with my parents. Then, one day, they magically return to the fold and realize we’re not complete imbeciles. Our son could roll his eyes with the best of them, but now I think he’s old enough to appreciate us again. As I like to say, “Please let me live long enough to see my future grandchildren make fun of their dad.”🤣

    Liked by 2 people

    • You so totally “get” what I’m saying about living with teens, Pete. Laughing at your “the moment we became idiots.” Wasn’t so funny at the time, though. The saving grace is when they become parents and turn to us and say (as my son said to us not so long ago about one of his wild young boys) “I was never this difficult.” My guy and I laughed in his face. And laughed, and laughed. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Aww, thank you Carol. At the time, our children didn’t particularly think so. But the good news is that now I’m getting some appreciation from them as they raise their own kids. Life is circular, my friend, as you know. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  10. That was a happy ending. Good for him.

    My three daughters are close to the same age. When they were in high school, I couldn’t tell their clothes apart, so I folded them and left them on top of the dryer and let them come and collect their own.

    Liked by 4 people

  11. From the number of responses, it looks like you hit a nerve. When I was dating Dom, his mother ironed all his clothes and had him inspect them!!!! I vowed that would not be me. So I started out ironing but did a terrible job. After that, the shirts went to the cleaner and I learned don’t ever learn how to do something you don’t want to get stuck with the rest of your life.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh Bernadette, I’m laughing and shaking my head at the same time. Your MIL ironed his shirts, and then he inspected them?!?! Your early marriage had the prospect of not a happy ending, but you took the “bull by the horns,” so to speak, and showed great incompetence in ironing. I think that’s one of the wisest things I’ve read in a long time. 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing. You’re the best. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  12. No judgment from me — I think your response was inspired! To be honest, laundry is my favorite chore and I kind of miss having so much of it now that all three kids are long gone… But my kids had to learn to cook for themselves if they ever wanted something good to eat. One son turned into an amazing cook!

    Liked by 3 people

    • That’s so neat, Barbara! I taught my kids to bake, since it was such a fun activity to do together, but their best cooking expertise was calling for pizza. 🙂 What a gift, to have a son who’s a great cook. My guy and I smile when we visit Sonny and his family – their “special dinners” are the same that I cooked him when he was a kid. Gratifying….

      Liked by 1 person

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  14. Good for you, Pam! A great lesson learned. My kids began doing their laundry around 13 years old. When I knew they were old enough to learn, they were going to learn for their own benefit. Cooking was the other “chore.” And now when they visit, they’ll offer to make a few meals, which is great. Thanks for the smiles!

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  15. Great piece! My first thought was that same response. I wouldn’t iron jeans for anyone! My son, at some point, in his teens as well, said he would do his own laundry. He told me years later that I kept throwing out his ripped underwear, but when I asked him if we needed to buy some, he just gave me a smirk. I respected his decision, not knowing the real reason, and was happy to relinquish the chore.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. This is great, Pam. I’ve been tempted to do this over the years. Our guys eventually learned how to do their own laundry when they went to college and they developed a new respect for the comforts of being at home. I love how your son adapted and brought his laundry skills to his adult life!

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  17. That’s the sort of mothering I like! My husband does his own laundry. He had particular ways of folding too. I never met his expectation in the fold, so I left it up to him. It works well for us.

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  18. I think you handled that perfectly! And I’m in awe….not only did I do all my family’s laundry for too many years (in my husband’s defense, he was willing to try but he shrunk too many of my clothes for me to want him helping), but I did laundry almost every day when my kids were little. How did you manage just four loads a week? You are the laundry queen!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. such a great lesson through such a simple story! i turn 19 in a few days, and i remember being always grumpy about chores till just a couple years back. had a very similar situation after which my sister and i began doing our own laundry! definitely hope that someday my husband is like your son – and that i never have to do the laundry 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for your fun comment. Yes, chores can make us grumpy, until we find some pleasure in them. I think my son not only enjoys seeing the dirty clothes come out clean (and smelling much better), but I also think he’s now particular about how the clothes are laundered, thus he’s taken over the job completely. :-0 Good luck in your future with finding a laundry romance buddy. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Yes. When we moved into this house I liberated myself from washing the Offspring’s clothes and cleaning said Offspring’s room. Being able to look after oneself is a survival skill. So is learning to appreciate one’s mother. 😉

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  21. Pam, a great response from you and I bet your son’s expression was priceless in the first instance! 😀 Laundry can be therapeutic and maybe your son discovered this as young — I bet his wife is very happy with the arrangement. The first time I asked my son to hang out the washing on the rotary washing line he had hung it ALL on one side of the rotary washing line which was leaning over precariously when I came home! 😀 Now he’s got it all sorted … as for an iron – not sure my son or his girlfriend own one!

    Here’s to the love of mothers teaching life lessons – even if unpalatable at first! xx❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think you’re right on all counts. But thanks for the smile (and a bit of a smirk) thinking of you coming home with the washing line hanging precariously one way. A great way to learn a laundry lesson! Three cheers to our sons (and the women who raised them). ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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  23. Brilliantly written. And brilliant, thoughtful way of getting your son to do laundry in real life – and have him remember that all his life and now passed down. You gave a lesson for life and have a good story to tell 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Mabel. I gave my writing students (and myself) the prompt “laundry” and this is the story that came out immediately. Every word is true. I’ll get to visit my son soon (he lives on the opposite coast) and I’m going to see if he’s teaching his oldest (almost 13) some laundry tricks yet. ;-0 🙂


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