Sometimes we endure setbacks and have struggles to lead us to a better place or a better way of doing things than whatever in the past was our “good enough to get by.” It happens a lot, actually, in varying degrees. In my life, there is usually a tremendous amount of whining and/or pitching fits any time changes like that take place. I’ve never been one to accept discomfort of any kind graciously –
unless it’s obviously for a good cause. Like childbirth. Go figure, eh? Talk about the ultimate discomfort, and I embrace it. Totally, totally love it. Weird, I know.
It’s just that for most things, the happy (or happier) ending is not quite so obvious until you get there. It would be lovely if we knew the punchline going into a trial.
“By the way, you’re going to learn empathy to a degree otherwise unattainable.”
“Your daughter will end up fine, and you’ll earn an honorary doctorate in alternative health.”
“It’ll be rough, but your family will be inseparable after this.”
“Remember how worried you were about x? And how much that really matters to you? Well, after you deal with y, it won’t be a problem.”
This probably sounds like I’m talking about big, earth-shaking, life-jeopardizing experiences. Maybe I am. There have been a few of those that have brought me or my family members where we are today. (And I do mean that in a good way. I think. Wait. Do I? Yes. I do.)
But actually, mostly, at the moment I’m thinking of something so silly and ridiculous that it might almost seem irreverent to now tell you what I intended to when I started writing. Kind of like having a great big artsy panoramic shot with some moving soundtrack behind it…
leading up to slapstick comedy.
Hang on to your hats, folks, I’m switching gears!
Someday somebody honest is going to say, “WOW! Your home looks amazing. What happened? It used to be a complete pigpen!”
And then I will have to reply honestly and say, “Well, our dryer broke, my grandma died, and then we had a lice outbreak and I had a nervous breakdown.”
I hadn’t spent a
good miserable 4 months with a broken dryer, struggling to get by with line-drying all these messy, sticky, gooey little clothes coming to roughly 2 loads of laundry every day in an extremely humid climate, during the wet/rainy season
IF on top of all that (“all that” including crazy preggy mood swings, naturally) we hadn’t discovered a lice infestation…
(Now don’t freak out… it’s Hawaii. If you have young children with hair, you are seriously *going* to get lice some day. I think my kids prob’ly got ‘em from the HOMESCHOOLERS! See? It’s just life.
Besides. They’re cute little tropical lice. You know – ukeleles, board shorts, flip-slops, little umbrellas in their Hawaiian drinks… And they aren’t called “lice” any way. They’re “ukus” — pronounced “ooo-kooo-s.” See? Almost adorable!)
I wouldn’t have freaked out (those ukeleles were too tiny to see at first), and sent my husband out with orders to come back with one of those student-laundromat-access cards.
“We have to wash pillows. You can’t dry pillows here without a dryer! They will never ever dry. I’m SO done mooching off neighbors’ dryers. Must needs then use a laundromat.”
He was successful. He always is.
I’m kind of grateful it happened on a late Saturday afternoon. I had time to:
treat everyone for lice whether they showed signs or not (and, hey, I’d been wanting to have more time for “family activities” — be careful what you pray for!),
do one load of bedding at home,
have Mr. Smith change all the bedding,
and put everyone to bed sans pillows…
but not time for anything else.
I could then spend all of Sunday basically having a nervous breakdown. Complete shut-down.
It was awesome to have time to do that. I really hope people don’t look too carefully at me at church. It’s been months since I’ve been with-it enough to wear makeup there. It was all I could do to get out of bed that morning. F’reals. Mr. Smith had to help pull me up so I could figure out if I had enough in me to get to church. Once I did, I was glad to be there and went home much better off than I was when I left.
I suppose I could’ve called it an ox in the mire day and done laundry ’round the clock… but it wasn’t life or death. The ox wasn’t in the mire. I was. Even with a wonderful, inspiring 3 hours of church, I was exhausted in every way. I used the time to just float on my back in the mire and look up at the sky, wondering if it would be possible to be faithful and even happy knee-deep in the mud. Rather than ponder the mysteries of the Universe, I simply let the Spirit tell me I was loved no matter how murky the situation, and I slept. And slept. And it felt really good. Everyone should have a nervous breakdown once in a while.
Okay, maybe not.
Anyway, Monday morning I was able to climb off my bed of completely-overwhelmed-ness, put my shoulder to the wheel, stuff alllllllllllll that bedding & other laundry into the car, and head over to that laundry mat I mentioned. I was not necessarily a happy camper about all this at the time, but I was coherant enough to see silver linings.
The home-remedy lice treatment seemed to work exceedingly well and it was cheap cheap cheap.
I had the super-great-quality uku comb already, having bought it a year ago when C’s best friend’s family had an outbreak. Seemed like a good thing to have just in case. I was right.
So there I was unloading basket after basket with my 3 little “helpers” in tow. (The buckets and baskets were “trains” and they were totally on board with it. Pun intended.) When I got it all into the fairly-empty laundry mat, I saw something amazing. Washing machines. Many many many of them. Ready for loading.
All that stuff.
All at once.
Are you pondering what I am pondering, Pinky?
The boys and I happily stuffed pillows and comforters and towels and clothes into machine after machine. The clouds parted, the beams of light shined down on our humble little crisis as the boys ran around pushing their now-empty “trains,” all those washers spun and gurgled together while heaven said,
“See? Isn’t this TOTALLY AWESOME?”
I had to agree. Oh. My. Happy. Day.
9 loads at once? WHAT! Why did I even bother with those 2 loads at home this morning? I’m never doing laundry at home again. Ever.
Well, maybe I will, but only if I have to. That was three weeks ago now and I haven’t touched my washer. Long term, it might not work out exactly the way I’m thinking it will, but hear me out. Laundry took up probably 50% of my housework-energy prior to this. Maybe more. Yes, likely more. [Note: Not 50% of my time -- just 50% of the energy I had to spend on housework - which isn't much, actually.]
During the week leading up to this little crisis, I made laundry a pretty high priority, actually trying to see it through to completion (you know, actually getting put away… lol! I’m so funny!…), and come Friday (before the ukus) it was pretty well caught up. I had been thinking, “Yeah. I totally got this down. Who needs a dryer?”
It was good enough. I thought.
There is a better way, though, for us right now. A much better way. It might not have been a better way 3 years ago. It may not be a better way a year from now. It may have taken what felt like a “major crisis” (riiiiight) to discover it, but I just cannot tell you how happy a camper I am to think about only doing laundry once a week. I can simply take all 10 loads (or however many it happens to be) down the street, let the kids play at the park right there while we wait an hour or two for stuff to finish, and have it ALL DONE. For the whole week. None of this two-loads-a-day constant bombardment and babysitting of The Laundry, with the steady nagging of children to be constantly helping with it. [cringe]
We have graduated to bigger family dynamics now and I am quickly moving towards less and less energy for the constant drain of keeping up with it. One big hurrah I can do. I can plan for that, I can have bigger kids help load/unload the car, I can plan a crock-pot meal that day, we can all just Do It and get it overwith.
Maaaaaybe it won’t work out as smoothly as I’m imagining. Maybe we’ll end up buried in a mountain of clean clothes that will never get put away and then life will be crazy.
But maybe Heaven gave us a little shove to make life a little easier for the time being.
(Cue back to the panoramic shot with the nice background music.)
And maybe, just maybe, this is my bridge to a more orderly life.
First, laundry on a set day. Who knows what comes next? Meal planning? Clutter-tossing? Consistent blogging? Home schooling? A girl can dream, you know… And while I’m dreaming, I can hope not to be shoved into a Better Way by another crisi of uku proportions. Can there be some other way to be heavenly-shoved? Yes please?
Well, if not, I shall have to remember this one
and trust that a little heavenly nudge can move me a long way
in the right direction.