One size fits all

January 27th, 2009

In case you thought my life was any different than this.

I was fuming. I spend a lot of my time fuming. Because of my husband. Know what I mean?

You don’t pay attention, I say.

When I fume, he does too and the cause of it, from what I gather, is this:

You pay too much attention, he says.

Neither of us is right, but both of us have our reasons. Reasons are a big problem in this house, but they usually get rinsed out in the wash.

Except lately, I haven’t been doing his wash for him. I don’t know how or why. I just stopped. He has the most clothes, wearable and unwearable, the most laundry, washed and unwashed, of anyone in the house. I think one has to do with the other.

My reasoning goes like this. Perhaps because he hasn’t ā€“ oh, in the last 13 years ā€“ had a weekly face-to-face with his laundry pile, he unduly cherishes his wardrobe, and unduly dismisses the meticulous task of caring for clothes.

Can I donate this to the rag pile, he says.

Trying to be helpful, he holds up a single pair of old socks.

Just throw them away, I instruct. He doesn’t like to give away worn out or outgrown clothes, and you know how I feel about that. He likes to buy new ones. I noticed last week he was sporting a handsome new sweater of a dense weave.

I picked it up while I was at the mall, he says.

I have a judgmental eye for those kinds of things. A judgmental eye for all kinds of things. I see that his old sweaters are stretched out and threadbare, but they are still crowding his drawers and closet. Still filling the hamper with to-dos.

Are you doing your laundry, I say.

He’s put a small load in on Sunday before I could start the heavy lifting. A few important things along with the new sweater.

I actually love to do laundry. Rather, I love to finish laundry. The clean, warm, folded, fresh scent of accomplishment. I just wish there was money in it!

Let me put it in the dryer, he says.

He is being responsible, cheery, chastened after one of my harangues. Washer cleared, I start my own load. About 30 minutes later, I open up the dryer to empty out his stuff. One glance at the surviving swatch of sweater and I turn it inside out to read the label he hadn’t.

Hand wash cold, it says.

Only some of you know what unexpected encouragement I took in finding those three words. Those three little words. Not because of what they meant about him: that he hadn’t paid attention, but because of what they meant to me: to take heart and keep going. To keep washing, drying, rinsing, and writing. To have faith, because I now have a new sweater that fits me perfectly!

It only cost $25, he says.



  1. well, that’s just delicious.


    Comment by jenica — January 27, 2009 @ 7:19 am

  2. Ha ha ha, You guys are my heroes. Viva la dirty laundry!

    Comment by Mrs. B. Roth — January 27, 2009 @ 8:37 am

  3. LOL
    sounds like your husband is channeling my husband or vice versa. is there a Buddhist version of an exorcism?

    Comment by Wendy — January 27, 2009 @ 11:56 am

  4. Ha … thanks for the smile!

    Comment by Erin — January 27, 2009 @ 12:29 pm

  5. Big smile here in Appalachia.

    Comment by Kristin H. — January 27, 2009 @ 1:08 pm

  6. priceless, indeed.
    thank you. šŸ˜‰

    Comment by Kirsten Michelle — January 27, 2009 @ 2:39 pm

  7. The best kind of sweaters are the hand me downs like that!!

    Comment by Cat — January 27, 2009 @ 2:46 pm

  8. Wonderful–now whose lesson was this–yours or his? šŸ™‚

    Comment by Angel — January 27, 2009 @ 2:55 pm

  9. You don’t pay enough attention/you pay too much attention: do you think together the two create a balanced whole, or are we destined to drive each other to the cleaners?

    Comment by Jena Strong — January 27, 2009 @ 2:58 pm

  10. I think all husbands suffer from the lament “You pay too much attention”…Little do they know most times we are the reason the house is still standing.

    Paul has far more clothes as well. I’m the only one who does the laundry. Not a problem, it just gets done in my time. I can’t tell you how many times he threatens to take it all to the laundromat and get it done in one fell swoop. I tell him to go ahead (This is where the wife is smarter than you logic comes in…), he never does.

    So as long as I continue to do ALL of the laundry, it continues to be in my own time. Kudos on the new sweater. (Hugs)Indigo

    Comment by Indigo — January 27, 2009 @ 4:15 pm

  11. That reminds me of the time my hubby called me to mention that he’d put a load of laundry in the washer and now it appeared to be stuck and full of water that wouldn’t drain. It was his first time to ever use it.

    His call was coming from Thailand, to Canada, where I was on holiday visiting my family. 13-hour time difference.

    Can’t remember whether I laughed or cried. Probably both.

    Comment by Lana — January 27, 2009 @ 4:29 pm

  12. Relating. Especially to shrunken sweaters, the price I pay for equitable division of the laundry.

    Comment by Bridge — January 27, 2009 @ 4:31 pm

  13. Oh yes, Bridge. Equality is overrated.
    And Wendy, no need for exorcism. It won’t work. Buddhism proves that we share one mind. The responses here prove that there is one husband. It won’t come out differently in the wash.

    Comment by Karen Maezen Miller — January 27, 2009 @ 4:38 pm

  14. A big guffaw here!

    Comment by Judy Merrill-Smith — January 27, 2009 @ 8:43 pm

  15. It’s excellent Karen! I love it!

    Comment by Shalet — January 28, 2009 @ 12:17 am

  16. Glad I found you….no cherrios in my world, only California Natural Rice and Chicken. Great read…

    Comment by Sheri — January 28, 2009 @ 1:42 am

  17. Glad I found you….no cherrios in my world, only California Natural Rice and Chicken. Great read…

    Comment by Sheri — January 28, 2009 @ 1:43 am

  18. husbands. laundry. fuming. and a brand new sweater for such a lovely lady. fantastic post, karen.

    Comment by Holly — January 28, 2009 @ 4:16 am

  19. “Why do you run around like a mad thing cleaning up before visitors?” says husband “No-one pays attention…” Much. Also,as he scrounges for a wrinkly garment from the ironing basket to wear out “What’s your problem – no-one pays attention” Yeah. Much. Congratulations on the sweater Karen!!

    Comment by Pam — January 28, 2009 @ 7:41 am

  20. Wow, Buddhists are like regular people šŸ™‚

    And maybe here we might modify the expression, First the ecstacy, then the laundry, then the husband’s sweater.

    (I appreciate your blog.)

    Comment by Togenberg — January 28, 2009 @ 4:49 pm

  21. Ha! The ending made me chuckle out loud!

    What a relief for me to acknowledge to you that, in our 18+ years together, my husband has done his own laundry šŸ™‚

    (He had an ex-girlfriend who apparently ruined one of his favorite shirts with bleach and….that did the trick! Now I reap the rewards of that long-ago mishap.)

    Comment by Nerdy Renegade — January 28, 2009 @ 9:55 pm

  22. This post is priceless too. My husband has so many more clothes than me, and I’m drowning in his laundry everyday, so that’s why I especially appreciate this post.

    Comment by Shelli — January 30, 2009 @ 11:47 pm

  23. oh my goodness…that story fits my husband and me to a “T”…except i continue to do is laundry. i refuse to do his ironing though. so if he goes to work looking like he just rolled out of bed, at least he smells clean. as for the amount of clothes he has….it’s ridiculous. i just cleaned out his t-shirt drawer (again) removing a small pile of sweat stained, ripped, smelly shirts. i hid them in the bottom of the garbage. he hasn’t even noticed yet.

    Comment by sarah — January 31, 2009 @ 7:06 pm

  24. A classic example of instant karma, I say! Natural consequences are always the best teachers, no?

    šŸ™‚ keep writing, mama!

    Comment by pixie — February 7, 2009 @ 7:20 am

  25. Gold.

    Weekly test of my compassion (i.e. my practice): 1. pick up multiple piles of husband’s clothes from ON TOP of the washing machine because husband seems to think it’s a hamper. 2. pick up another ball of husband’s clothes from INSIDE the washing machine because husband seems to think it’s a hamper. 3. pick up more piles of husband’s clothes from bedroom bench, remnants of husband’s morning haste to setttle on something suitable. Yet like a woman, he says he has nothing to wear. (But then I only need to remind myself further of all the selfless and generous things he does for me!)

    Comment by DQ's Windmill — February 19, 2009 @ 2:33 pm

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