When I was a teenager, my parents decided to stop hiring a househelp. They believed that we’re grownups enough to handle the household chores. Of all the chores, I hated laundry the most. I, together with my two sisters, washed everyone’s clothes. But it was not all hate for those times, I remember those times when we would stay up until midnight or so just to be done with it.
Those quiet nights when we would wrestle with the dirt that settled in the inseams of the clothes and the stains on the white uniforms of our brothers who were still in elementary school. Occasionally, a bubble water would get swished from someone’s hand and would land into the face of the other. This would start the laughter and goofing among the laundry girls.
I also recall my mother telling me that when you hang your clothes to dry, it has to be arranged according to sizes and/or colors. She told me that when I was done hanging a huge mound of laundry. And made me do everything over. Needless to say, that became another reason for me to despise this particular chore. Looking back, my thoughts were all about just getting it over with. Even so, I had grown such antipathy for doing the laundry that I never wanted to take it on if I ever had a choice.
Then COVID-19 came. Everyone had to be where they are and our help had to stay where she is. I was consistently in throes with myself thinking how I could get away with this tedious task. I wanted to bring the laundry to a shop but I hated the smell after getting it from those shops. I also do not like when our clothes get mixed up with other sets. Those personal quirks, you know. And so, as much as I avoided it, I decided to take it up one day but with the low water pressure, I had to settle with hand washing. I cringed at every inch of it. Hubby decided to help out and (like before) the chore was done close to midnight. I had to do this every week during the quarantine. I started feeling like Cinderella.
But I noticed that something has changed inside me. I have come to find comfort in the loads of colorful clothing. I arranged the colors in rainbow and their color plays have grown so pleasing to the eye, it actually soothed me. In the third week of doing the laundry, I had to admit something to myself: I am loving it. My friend Kate told me that the chores in our country is such an expression of care. The laundry and dishwashing carry a particular caring and embracing gesture. I will have to agree now that I see my daughters’ faces wearing the clothes that I strive to keep clean with this meaningful work.
I now accept with a light heart that this attitude toward things comes with age. On the fourth week, the chore became some sort of meditation. I had refused listening to music while I was at it. I feel so drawn to the quiet and the sound of my hands with the bubbles and the cloth. Also, the sound of water in its steady flow. Sometimes, I feel that it’s cleansing my mind too. Occasionally, hubby would join in and I like the conversations that come up; when we’re talking, the stuff gets done in no time.
There’s a saying that goes, “If you don’t like your situation, you change it. If you can’t change it, change your perception towards it.” I am somehow getting this thought in a way.
And that, my friends, is my personal philosophy about laundry. A little bit more and I’ll be philosophizing over sweeping the floor.
Joan Mae Soco-Bantayan is a teacher at Tuburan Institute, Inc. She is also a wife and a mother of two. For questions and comments, feel free to drop her an e-mail at email@example.com or visit her Facebook page, Joan Mae Soco.
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