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Laundry: A Mom-Life Metaphor

Laundry and Motherhood
Laundry and Motherhood


It’s one of the least glorified yet wholly necessary household tasks.  Without it, toddlers would run naked through the streets, men would wear the same underwear for a week (you know it’s true), teenagers would pluck favorite jeans from the dirty clothes pile and women would don their best-loved black yoga pants again and again and again.

Those who “do the wash” understand terms such as “monotonous”, “repetitive” and “routine” because after handling approximately 4,392 articles of soiled socks, mildewy towels, poopy diapers, dusty rags, muddy jeans, stinky t-shirts...

...AND separating the darks from the lights from the delicates from the brights...

...AND ensuring special items are folded flat, hanged to drip, or tumbled for only minutes in the dryer...

...AND folding garments only to refold them after the toddler - thinking it a fun game - empties the six baskets of neatly stacked clothing...

...AFTER ALL THAT... they enjoy 12.2 seconds of sweet, glorious {albeit short-lived} VICTORY... until... it all. begins. again.

While it’s probable that a laundry strike would wreak havoc on households everywhere, it’s also reasonable to guess that this valued and imperative chore goes unrecognized and even unnoticed... until something goes awry.

Kind of like motherhood.

Laundry and motherhood have a lot in common. Motherhood, like laundry, is often monotonous, repetitive and routine.

We wake with our babies - whether their age is six months or sixteen years - to make meals and clean clothes and wipe noses and hold hands; to feel foreheads and comb cowlicks and make beds and scrub floors; to cry through math and cheer at t-ball; to soak up vomit and organize carpools; to give counsel, and pray hard, and rest our hands upon their tousled curls and feel the warmth of their cheeks as we lay them on their pillows again at night.

And we wake up the next day and the day after that performing these very same duties and chores and responsibilities until slowly... graciously... God transforms us, and the duties and chores and responsibilities become our privilege and honor and pleasure.

Because while motherhood - like laundry - is full to the brim with tedium and schedule and dullness, weariness and uniformity and uneventfulness, it also bursts at the seams with VICTORY:  the toddler finally yells, “I did it!”; the teenager squeezes your hand saying, “I love you, Mom - beyond words”; one child asks another for forgiveness, siblings hug, and reconciliation ensues -- this time without Mom-intervention.

When we lean into the work with willing surrender, hearts spilling over with love and gratitude, thinking *I* get to be their mom... what happens is this: we recognize those 12.2 seconds of victory, and we celebrate, holding onto every. single. second. knowing that right. then. we are building a legacy of victories that will carry us through the doldrums.

We live -- really live -- not from one triumph to the next, but in preparation for and in hope ofthe next sweet success.

Because, like the never-ending ever-growing pile of laundry, the work of motherhood is always upon us, threatening to wear us thin.

So stay strong and endure, fellow moms!  “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9 NIV).

Because the sweet satisfaction of laundry completed pales in comparison to the pure joy of children matured into the people God planned them to be.

And THAT, my sweet mom-friends, is the wildly significant purpose of motherhood.  Take care that it doesn’t get lost beneath the mountains of laundry.



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