Not on the line about folding clothes

By Jim DeBrosse

As the New Year approaches, I'm sure my loyal readers are wondering whether this will be the year that Mr. Mom finally starts folding the laundry. I long ago told myself that, among my duties as primary breadwinner, parent and homemaker, folding the laundry was where I would take my stand.

Single parents know exactly what I'm talking about. They know in their gut when enough is enough. The threshold point might be washing windows or keeping a pet or selling candy and popcorn for school fundraisers. Whatever it is, they put their foot down and say, "The stress stops here and I will do no more."

It's not that I haven't tried to get my three children, now ages 12, 14 and 16, to fold their own laundry. I did the separate laundry basket thing (they left them in their rooms) as well as Madonna's tough-love approach of hiding clothes that aren't put away (the howls of desperation for a favorite shirt or pair of pants on school mornings got to be too much).

Both times I returned to my personal ground zero -- throw the dried clothes in a pile in the laundry room, close the door and forget about it.

Since I do a load of laundry every night (yes, parents of teenagers will understand), there is thankfully a pattern to the build-up of the pile. The kids and I have learned to reconnoiter and quickly mine the strata where our socks, underwear and other items are mostly likely to be hiding.

Refusing to fold laundry does lead to a higher attrition rate for lost items -- especially those tiny low-cut socks my kids insist on wearing because everyone else does. But I would rather buy new socks than tackle the laundry pile. Honest.

Years ago when I was married, our family stayed with a friend of mine whose Rhodes Scholar wife was president of the local school board and the stay-at-home mother of three young children. Using their washer one night for our own dirty clothes, I was shocked -- shocked! -- to discover that his wife simply dumped the family clothing on the laundry table and left it there for sifting.

Today, if I saw that same pile, I would say, "You go, girl!"

Don't get me wrong. I place a high priority on my children's health and well-being. We eat home-cooked meals together nearly every night. I change their sheets -- well, at least twice a year. And I have tried to provide them with every advantage in their education and cultural enrichment.

But will I fold their laundry? No, never. Not this year, or the next or the next after that.

Single parents, unite! You have nothing to lose but your socks.

DATE: December 28, 2007                                                       PUBLICATION: Dayton Daily News (OH)


Copyright, 2007, Cox Ohio Publishing. All rights reserved.