These days, one of my greatest commonplace joys is doing laundry. That might sound a little funny if you're at all like me. I certainly never saw laundry as an extraordinary pleasure in prior years.
But I never had Meg as my laundry helper in prior years either.
When Meg first got big enough to climb up and down stairs, she began to accompany me on my regular trips to the basement laundry room. There she would hinder my efficient laundry processing by standing in my way, pressing buttons that shouldn't have been pressed, trying to eat the detergent, etc. For a while I floundered through this, working around Meg as best I could, trying not to be irritated with my little busybody, but often failing. Once, at least, I became angry and let her know it. Oh, how my wicked heart regretted that outburst when it was over!
At some point, by God's grace, it occurred to me that I could harness Meg's interest in the whole laundry process by teaching her to be a real helper to Mommy. She took to it immediately and now knows just what to do without even being asked. We walk downstairs and into the laundry room; I set the laundry basket on the floor. Meg loads the laundry, one or two pieces at a time, into the washing machine (we have a front-end loader) while I dispense the soap. When all the clothes are in, Meg shuts the door with a big, satisfying bang.
Then comes the really fun part: she gets to push the buttons! I crouch down beside her and remind her of what to push when, talking to her about whether we are using hot or cold water this time, etc. Finally she pushes the "Start" button and holds it until she hears the door lock. Then she steps back and waits--she often nestles up close to me for this part and rests her cheek against mine. I wrap my arm around her and watch her sweet, rapt little face in the reflection of the door. "Here comes the soapy water!" I say, and we see an initial white spray spurt into the machine. "Here comes some more water," I say and, after a moment, the canister begins to fill up and spin. "Spinning," I say, "All done!" "Ahhhh duh," Meg echoes as we prepare to leave. ("No more buttons," I often have to remind her, as she attempts to hit the pretty pink one that reads "Pause/Cancel"--it makes such a nice beeping sound when you touch it!) Then we walk out of the laundry room; I turn off the light and Meg slams the door.
The fascination and joy with which Meg takes part in this little ritual each day makes doing the laundry more than fun for me--it makes it delightful. Yeah, it takes a LOT longer than it would if I did it all by myself. And sometimes I think that's time that would be better spent on other tasks. But, oh, to see Meg feeling needed and useful around our home! And to teach my tiny daughter skills that she will be using for the rest of her life--now, before she learns to associate them with drudgery! It's so worth the extra time.
It robs me of my own sense of drudgery too. In fact, it turns a day-in, day-out chore into a cherished bonding moment for Mama and her little girl. And it makes things as simple as cloth and water and soap powder into something almost... well, magical.