living local · motherhood · reflections

When All You Really Need is 10 Quarters to Do Laundry

I came home from the beach a week ago to this greeting from my husband who likes to try and reduce my stress.

“So, you want the good news or the bad news?”

Hmmm….well the bad news was the washing machine had been broken since Tuesday. But he thought he could get it fixed.

With at least $85 and a technician.  Luckily we had this conversation in my parents’ kitchen over pizza after I had napped in the car while my daddy drove two kids, me, and lots of our stuff back home from a week at my favorite place.

Cushioned the blow. And my dad chimed into this conversation with, “You know I think I saw a YouTube video on how to fix that problem.”

Really, sometimes I wonder how people survived before YouTube and Google were actions that can solve anything.

But…fixing it required more hands than Joshua has and more patience than our eight year old has when she’s out of shorts. Plus, I honestly wasn’t sure if this would work (much as I wanted it to) and I had the crazy notion that the laundromat could be a good experience.

Yes, I think taking all four of my kids into a laundromat on a Monday afternoon sandwiched between school and Family Night at the Fair could be a good experience.

I wanted them to see how the other side lives. What it’s like not to have a washer/dryer handy for your favorite shirt at any time. What it means to choose between after school ice cream and clean socks. What it is to mingle with people who look a lot like us but don’t walk in our socio-economic circle in which a laundry room is a necessity and not a luxury.

I wanted to have a smidge of an experience of what it might look like to live out words I penned nearly a year ago.

Because we don’t really know each other until we do dirty laundry together.

So we did. We got an education from a kind gentleman who wasn’t put out that they had taken over the folding tables in order to complete homework. We exchanged smiles with a Hispanic father whose daughter was infinitely calmer than any of mine. We marveled at those who do this on a regular basis and are pros.

But mostly we just learned about Georgia’s habitats and fourth grade algebra and listened to the refrain of the Daniel Tiger app. Being stuck in the laundromat meant I couldn’t escape into the internet or my bedroom or even a novel because between four kids and four washers with timers, something constantly needed attention.

Which was the real heart of this experience for me.

In my own home, I often hole up and overlook the outside world. Including the world of my kids, sometimes. It’s easy to let them retreat to their rooms to complete homework or a project or a book. It’s easy to flip on a show and call it “family time.” It’s nice to fold laundry by myself in my bedroom with a podcast going.

But sometimes that means I’m out of step with all that’s going on around me. I want to see. I want to experience. I want my kids to know how good we really have it.

Even if that sometimes means I need 10 quarters for every load of laundry that needs washing.

What about you? Any new experiences lately? 

Oh, and YouTube worked. He fixed the washer. And after seeing Madelynne’s photo on Instagram, I had no less than five friends tell me I could have used their machines. Which was kind and a lesson to me about remembering it’s okay to humble myself and air my dirty laundry with a friend, too. 

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