I noticed the other day that my laundry pile was slowly shrinking. How can this be? Well, for one thing, it’s summer and, as I lamented in the winter, summer T’s, tanks and shorts are much smaller than winter pants, sweaters, and hoodies. But there’s another reason the pile is shrinking, and the reality is slowly creeping up on me.
My oldest daughter now does her own laundry, greatly diminishing my pile over the past several months. While she was away three weeks this summer, I noticed the foreshadowing of missing laundry when she leaves home next year. Oh, I know you moms who have already sent your children off into the world will chuckle that the laundry will come home with them. But did you know that the washers at her college work without quarters and already come supplied with the laundry soap inside? (Hey, I am going to do laundry at HER place!) No, while I’m sure she’ll be around a while longer, I can see her heart she is “set for launch.”
While I never imagined myself missing laundry, it’s funny how something so mundane can trigger a flurry of emotions. The mix of feelings we moms have sending our children out into the world can hardly be untangled. There is the relief that they have made it this far, coupled with the grief over life stages now past, mingled with the treasured memories acquired along the way and eager anticipation of all that is to come. And of course there is a good dose of worry mixed in.
But another sensation has overtaken me as I see my laundry pile shrinking. I have been a mom for quite a while. I am wondering what MY life will be like as the pile continues to shrink? In some ways, I feel more unprepared for the transitions ahead than my kids. Like so many other moms, I gave up my career aspirations for this season, a season that seems at times to drag on and on, but is inching to a close with each passing day. My youngest daughter, now only 7 1/2 will stretch this season on for quite a while yet, but she too has grown so much more independent.
Where does that leave me?
Perhaps at times I have hidden behind that laundry pile.
As I spent more time at home over the years, I became less connected to my former self, and to my previous career and aspirations. I will admit to a bit of trepidation over having to step up and face new challenges. The laundry has become a familiar routine, one that is beginning to play a less prominent role in my life. Now that I have more time, I can step out from behind the laundry pile and find new purposes for my life. My life won’t end when my children leave home; a whole new life is just beginning.
“When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted...The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever…” (Ps 138:3,8)
Karen Lembo is on a mission to help others “live above the laundry pile” by sharing the biblical insights and helpful advice that God has revealed among the dirty socks. Karen currently resides in Salisbury, MD with her husband Art, and their three children, Emily, Arthur, and Katie. Learn more about Karen and read her blog, “Living Above the Laundry Pile,” at www.karenlembo.com