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Friday, April 6, 2012

Dirty Little Secrets

Day 1 Washed
Day 1 Folded

Day 2 Washed

Day 2 Folded

Early in the days when I first retired from a corporate career to write and work at home, the transition was difficult. I was trying to redefine myself as a mother, become adjusted to long days alone at home with just an infant and two cats for company.  My neighborhood was quiet.  I saw a neighbor once or twice daily -- down the street, walking by, driving away.  It was an isolated existence.  I missed my friends at work; I missed their easy camaraderie.  They were people I had known for over ten years and it was not easy to replace a network like that one. Many of my friends couldn’t believe I was willingly walking away to “write, raise children and do laundry.”  There were certainly moments when I had doubts myself! I had not underestimated what commitment it took to write and sell my work.  I was not surprised how intense a job it is to raise children.  It was the laundry that was almost my undoing.  Nothing prepared me for how infinite, how vast and how relentless the laundry associated with keeping a family clean and neat was going to be. 
Five years into this social experiment, I had a few friends from the bank who remembered me, as one who had gone on before, and still called. Infrequently, we would meet for lunch.  On those occasions, I would hire a babysitter and venture out into the world of grown-ups.  With purse hooked over my arm, I would sashay into a restaurant, secretly wondering if my third child’s spit-up was still in my hair, or if my milk was about to let down. One one such occasion, I met a commercial lender.  He asked me how life was treating me.  I started to give an account of the challenge of trading P & L statements for three loads of laundry per day. 

"It’s the laundry that I do not like.  The rest, I can take it or love it." 
He eyed me, over his water glass for a few seconds. Then, he responded.
“It takes eight minutes to fold the average load of laundry.”  
“How do you know?"
“I timed it,” he said.“Why?” I asked.“My wife felt the same way you did when she started to work from home.”
It has been nearly sixteen years since we had that conversation over lunch. There is hardly a day that goes by that I don’t think of that conversation while I fold a load of wash.  Whether it is one or three loads, the memory reminds me that I am not alone with my dirty laundry.

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