I have an aqua blue knit dress straight from the sale rack at Marshall's that I kinda like. I've worn it out on a date with my sweetheart once. It's rayon with a touch of stretch and is it ever comfortable!! A few hugs from a couple messy kids later, into the laundry basket it went. (It's been there a while....because we all know our own laundry stays at the bottom.) I started a load recently and almost threw it in...but I remembered how much I really adore this dress so I checked the tag.
Gentle cycle/Tumble dry low.
Back in the basket. I already had a machine full of jeans and boxers and worn out pajamas.
The dress needs special care, not a hurried wash-over
We had another date that weekend. We said "I do" 12 years ago and just needed to celebrate! He liked the dress. I like the dress. Just makes me feel like a lady! And I'm ever hopeful the brown leftovers from the sprightly offspring can be removed as the time draws nigh. So, yes, a little inconvenient that I had to pitch it back in the basket.
Even still, it needed specialized consideration for its unique make-up.
The gentle cycle.
The tender twist and turn. The merciful, slow spin that would rid the garment of all stain.
But if not? Because sometimes, it won't.
Then into the basin to soak a while. Because, while a fast and furious normal wash might leave my dress without stain, the scarring from the increased agitation is permanent.
Gentle. Deliberate. Full care.
The metaphor, though predictable - because laundry is a perpetual event around here - is striking!
What if we mothered this way? What if the tantrums and fake tears weren't met with out of control voices that only mirrored the child, but with self-control, and patience, and "hold my hand and listen to my words"? What if sarcasm was replaced with expressed interest in the person he/she is and is becoming?
What if "How many times do I have to tell you to put your shoes in the laundry room?" was traded with "I promised I'd remind you when you forgot to place your shoes in the laundry room. Please go and take care of that."
What if the face we wear emulated gentleness? And the tone of our talk, without agitation. Lord, help?
Charlotte Mason, a revolutionary, turn of the 20th century British educator famous for her great efforts to improve the quality of education, once said:
Tact, watchfulness, and persistence are the qualities she must cultivate in herself, and, with these, she will be astonished at the readiness with which the child picks up the new habit. Vol 1, p. 122
Children can be stubborn. Stubborn like a dress stain.
And we can handle them hastily like inconvenient laundry day after day after never ending day only to have a damaged garment that endured the agitation too long.
Or with extra care, careful to preserve their beating heart that can turn this way and that. With attention to the impact of our words. With the knowledge that our efforts, our actions, they'll be repeated with our grandchildren.
The gentle cycle creates a legacy.
Remember the harvest, remember the harvest!
In a presto culture that doesn't want it any other way, may we - the raisers of world-changers - slow down. May we mimic our machines when the nob is turned to gentle and we place the garment into the water where we'll patiently wait for the stunning outcome.
I love that blue dress.
But I love my children so much it hurts.
The Gentle Cycle, yes!
This post is day 7 in a 14 day series, "The Sweetest Harvest, a Journey for Proverbs 22 Parenting" at www.littlehousejoy.com
Kristen is wife to a man who calls her lady and mama to 3, five and under. On Tuesday’s, you might find one of them wiggling on her lap as she teaches piano lessons from her living room to community children. She tells the story of seemingly ordinary days with real life photos and fresh words that fill her heart at nap time. She cherishes childhood. She values home. She embraces life. And she celebrates them at littlehousejoy.com