My Dearest Babies, My darling boys, the loves of my life, my sweethearts,
It brings me so much joy to be your mother. I cherish the moments that we get to spend together. In my wildest dreams I never envisioned that my heart would fill to bursting from popsicle scented kisses, and sticky fingers intertwining with mine. I had no idea before I became a mother, that the ideal Saturday night is spent under a Speed-Racer comforter, with a freshly shampooed kid on each side of me, watching Kung-Fu Panda or the Incredibles for the 10,000th time. My life is so much richer than I ever thought that it could be!
When I graduated from college, approximately six thousand years ago in 2004, I was wide-eyed and excited. I looked at the world as an adventure waiting to be started. I envisioned travel and experiences. I envisioned ladders to climb and walls to tear down and crumble up. I saw my life’s opportunities laid out before me, like ripe peaches soaking up golden sunshine on a full tree, just waiting for me to pluck them. Little darling children, I had no idea that before the ink was even dry on my diploma I would be welcoming the first of you into my arms. I had no idea that those ripe peaches of opportunity were in fact you. But being your mom has been and continues to be the most amazing adventure I could ever imagine. But, let’s get back to the mitten.
The moment you were placed into my arms, I knew that life was going to change forever. I was meeting someone I had never seen before, but felt like I had always known the second your eyes met mine. I knew that I wanted to give you all that I have, and teach you all that I know. That magical moment of new motherhood has been recorded in poetry, in song, in film, but really the moment itself is completely indescribable. It is a moment of simultaneous wisdom and crushing insecurity. It is the most transformative moment that a person can experience, biologically, spiritually, emotionally. And it all leads to washing mittens in July. July, when it’s 90 degrees outside.
Through the years we have shared a thousand brave adventures and most of these adventures result in clothes to be washed. I have washed mud caked tennis shoes and gravel filled shorts. I have scrubbed popsicle stains out of favorite t-shirts and tediously picked dried on glitter glue off of a favorite pair of jeans. I have soaked pajamas that fell victim to a midnight bout of the flu. I have retrieved discarded clothes from reading chairs, from under beds, and even from the back yard. I pulled a sock out of the hose of the vacuum cleaner once. But still, I can’t explain this mitten, and I’m looking to you, sweet baby boy, to tell your mother why in the middle of summer, in the heat of July, when snow and ice and cold are a far distant memory, did I wash and dry this green mitten?
Baby, we are all learning this housekeeping thing together. And I know you are small. And I know that things sometimes get overlooked. It wasn’t too long ago that I found that discarded, damp bath towel that had begun to smell like sour cream stuck under the skirt of your reading chair. We tossed in an extra splash of bleach, sprayed your carpet with deodorizer and moved on. We have all forgotten items, left them unattended, unappreciated, ignored so that they wind up in the cycle of laundry again and again because there is no time to put them away, or maybe no time to ask if we really need to keep them. But sweet child, I know that the mittens must have surely been put away before now?
We are now in the middle of summer, the dog days, if you will. We are an equal distance from saying goodbye to last year’s teacher and saying hello to next year’s. You haven’t worn pants that go past your knee caps for two solid months. You haven’t worn a jacket for two and a half months. So why, precious child, did I extract a freshly washed mitten, a wintery, lined, green mitten from my dryer today?
Am I over-reacting to the mitten? Perhaps. It is just a mitten after all. They are small, and could easily get tucked away unknowingly. But it isn’t just a mitten. Today, the mitten. Last week, it was a pair of blue fleece puppy pajamas with feet in them! Feet! As in something to keep your feet warm! Please, darling son, understand that I feel that doing your laundry helps to enhance the harmony and order of our home. Doing your laundry helps us all to function more smoothly. I don’t mind washing your clothes. BUT.. you don’t wear fuzzy fleece puppy footy pajamas in July either. And you don’t wear knit toboggans with batman eyes and a gold and black yarn pom-pom in July. And you don’t wear thick gray boot-socks in July. So, where are these things coming from? And why am I just now finding them in the laundry cycle a good two months after they should have been put into retirement?
By asking this question, I am making both of us vulnerable. Are you hiding your laundry away? Staggering it so as not to overwhelm your poor mother with its abundance? Am I so far behind on the washing and handling of the laundry that I am just now making it to the bottom of the pile established in April? What does this say about my functionality as laundry overseer of the house? What am I supposed to do with this mitten now? Do I drag out the winter clothes bin and put it away? Do I tuck it into a sock drawer and hope it assimilates? Do I throw it outside and hope it becomes feral? I’m not equipped to care for a mitten in the middle of July. It all sounds like too much work.
Sweet, sweet child. Being your mother is a unique and priceless gift. Caring for you is my first and truest calling from God above. I’m grateful to live into my role as mother, as caretaker, as nurturer, and even as laundress. But kiddo, the mittens should have been tucked into a winter clothes box or drawer months ago. Next July, let’s exclusively rely on wet bathing suits and watermelon juice stains for our laundry adventures. Because even without random mittens in the mix, it’s been a long long day, and I still have at least three loads to go.