On holidays where either my wife or Jesus was born, I’m all for giving gifts. But I’ve never been one for the shmoopy clichéd gifts that seem to be rooted more in obligation than inspiration. Holidays that, while nice in their symbolic intent, appear to be driven by jewelers, chocolatiers, and flower magnates.
Heather doesn’t need a bouquet of flowers, another mother-child pendant, or a box of chocolates to know she’s appreciated and loved. I make sure she knows this every day of the year. I’m just not that guy who relies on a Mother’s Day gift to excuse the previous 364 days’ lack of acknowledgment.
Heather’s most favorite Valentine’s and Mother’s Day presents haven’t been presents at all. One was my surprise trip to Texas to visit her after we’d spent months apart while she cared for my mother. Another was simply…a rock. I had plucked a river stone from the creek bed we were sitting in, and with cunning precision, chiseled it into the shape of a heart. A masterpiece that still adorns our mantel.
Believe me, if you can make a woman swoon with a rock, she’s a keeper.
And you…are the MAN.
So while everyone else was standing in front of pillaged racks of greeting cards on Mother’s Day Eve searching for someone else’s words to say what should come naturally, I rested comfortably at home trying to think of something I could do to make her day a bit more special.
What I gave her didn’t come in a box. It wasn’t wrapped in a bow. It didn’t even come with a receipt.
Instead, I decided to do something for my wife that I’ve never done for anyone else before. Not even myself.
I folded laundry.
Now…I know what you’re thinking: “She’s the mother of your children, it’s not like she eradicated cancer!”
And I get that. But I love Heather THAT much. Although I will admit that the tedious nature of that task stressed me to my limits and inspired me to purchase what should prove to be three of the most romantic gifts ever given:
1. A laundry basket for Andrew.
2. A laundry basket for Michael.
3. A laundry basket for me.
Kamryn gets a pass.
Based on my short experience, I determined that Heather must spend half her waking hours folding clothes that she doesn’t even wear. Over the years, the tonnage is immeasurable and I’m shocked that she’s done so without so much as a word of complaint.
In comparison, it took less than 15 minutes of dealing with a mountain of orphaned socks before I could feel intense anger bubbling within.
Socks with broad weaves, some with thin. Socks with gold toes, some with blue. Ankle socks, low socks, high socks. It was like sorting snowflakes. No two were the same.
As a lifelong t-shirt guy, folding clothes has never been an artform I’ve practiced. I’d simply remove the clothes from the dryer, open the least-jammed dresser drawer, and lay them in one on top of the other. Same with my boxers, same with my shorts, and same with my jeans. The only exceptions were button-down shirts and my ONE suit, which needed to be somewhat balanced on hangers.
99% of the clothes I folded were inside out. Part of me wanted to just fold them as they were and let the impending wearer deal with it, but considering the nature of the holiday, I went the extra mile and incessantly yanked on sleeves and pant legs until the clothes were folded to code.
By the time I was done, I wanted to hurt someone.
Even though I’d successfully sorted everyone’s clothes into manageable piles, I was still saddled with two dozen socks without mates. Heather explained that the protocol with loose singles is to just toss them into an orphan basket. As more orphans amass, sometimes a match can be found. But if an orphan goes unclaimed after a certain period of time, it gets relocated to the “rag bin” where it lives out the balance of its life wiping up messes and cleaning windows.
To me, this sounds like a waste of perfectly good socks. I’d rather see us implement a Foster Sock program whereby orphaned pairs can still be worn. While it doesn’t work so well when wearing shorts, sock matching is of little concern if you’re in long pants, jammies, or retirement.
What I learned through this experience is that no one person should be expected to fold a household’s worth of clothing, towels, and linens and maintain sanity. I don’t know how she’s done it. I’m embarrassed that it’s taken me this long to come to this realization but Heather’s never really complained.
In our new laundry regime, the kids will be responsible for placing dirty clothes IN their own private basket and then folding the same clothes once they’re magically washed and returned. While I’m sure this will implant some degree of responsibility, that’s not my motivation. I mainly want to alleviate some of Heather’s daily stress. We’re all completely capable and it’s long overdue. I barely lasted 30 minutes and I was ready for a rampage. After enduring years of this, Heather has to be one ankle sock away from the asylum.
Considering all the free time she’ll gain as a result, I can think of no better gift for Mother’s Day. A year from now, long after all the cards have been discarded, the chocolates eaten, and the flowers wilted, I will have given Heather an extra three million daytime hours.
An amount that doubles if I buy everyone their own dishwasher.