short stories

Lessons from the Laundry Room


The first time I visited a laundry mat was my senior year in college. I was accustomed to taking my dirty laundry home on the weekends and utilizing my parents’ washer and dryer while wearing old sweatpants and a t-shirt, waiting on my clothes to dry. But this laundry mat intrigued me, as it was just across the street from our apartment complex. Patrons started early; by the time I was leaving for my 8am theology class, you could view through the large windows various people folding, washing, and watching the news on the mounted console television to pass the time. And for whatever reason, I wanted to see what all of the fuss was about. So, I gathered almost a week’s worth of towels and clothing and a ziplock bag full of quarters and trotted across the street to begin. I was there for two hours and I spent no less than $16 in quarters, but what I remember most was how few distractions were there. Keep in mind this was before free wi-fi, smart phones, or any sort of social media.  I was able to study for finals, read a book, write cards to mail to friends. On occasion, the others in the building and I would make small talk, but for the most part, I was left to the basic, mechanical function of loading the washer, dragging the sopping wet clothes to the heated dryer, then one by one, folding each item individually and smoothing the wrinkles from each warm towel or jeans with the holes in the knee.


I rounded the corner this weekend into our laundry room and realized it had missed my presence greatly. Piles of clean laundry beckoned for its rightful spot on a hanger or in a drawer, and a few late nights of dance class, spelling words, and just downright exhaustion had taken precedence over laundry duties. Most people buck on laundry, or mopping, or just cleaning in general, especially when it is laundry for five people. No one likes to clean, except my grandmother, who has kitchen floors you could eat off of. But, instead of complaining about the work, I dove in and created that laundrymat experience I had so many years ago. I brought a book, a cup of tea, and a laptop to watch a show or two, all into my tiny laundry room at the end of the hallway. My personal rule was no internet or social media, no texting, no phone calls. I was going to force myself out of busy and into simplicity: wash, rinse, repeat.


And it worked. A couple of hours later, I had almost finished my book, caught up on a Netflix series I was watching, and not one person bothered me, because let’s be honest: no one wants to go into the laundry room. That is why socks find their way to the floor below. Because they are waiting for someone else to pick them up and take them to where they need to be. So, the next time you feel overwhelmed by household chores or just life in general, find a mission in the mundane. Pray over the people in your household that wear those shirts that are turned inside out in the clothes hamper or that have ketchup stains on the collar. From the elastic waist 4t jeans to the suit and tie, this is the armor we wear every day when we leave the house for battle. And someone has to be back at home base, making sure we are ready.




2 thoughts on “Lessons from the Laundry Room

  1. Thank you! I am in my first year as a stay at home parent of 2 elementary girls after years of a high demand 24/7 job that I loved. I know this is the right decision for our family, but some days it’s difficult to find the joy. I needed this reminder today.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge