Like many people out there, I used to have a washer and dryer in my home. Technically it was in the garage, so my only company on laundry days were the black widow spiders who hung out there. I specifically remember doing laundry one day after recently becoming a stay-at-home mom and thinking, “Of all of the world-changing things I could be doing, here I am in the garage washing dirty onesies.” At the same time, I felt that God was showing me I needed to be faithful in the small things in preparation for bigger things to come.
Now, keep in mind that this post is written by a mom of two who doesn’t get out much…but I think I have been put in charge of a bigger thing 3 years later. It’s called washing clothes for four people rather than three AND doing this at a laundromat.
My first taste of communal laundry came in the college dorms. Apart from getting my first and only, “Hey I just met you but will you and your roommate come on a double date with me and mine?” experience (in case my parents are reading, no we did not accept), there wasn’t anything memorable about it. Our move to the big city meant no more in-home laundry and for that opportunity I am grateful. In spite of the extra time, trouble, and potentially germs. Yes, grateful!
Lots of people are talking about living a better story, and it seems that laundromats have helped me with that in my own silly story. I’ve usually been the primary laundry person for the household, except when I was sick or limping around the last 2 weeks of pregnancy with a bad back. Or when Cool Dad preferred it to being home with a hungry baby that he couldn’t muster up milk for.
I’ve gone out to do laundry with a toddler strapped to my back while hugging a huge hamper of clothes. In the rain. Walking from laundromat to laundromat to find them closed for maintenance or lacking open washers.
I’ve carried laundry up and down four flights of stairs for the six months that we were crazy enough to live on the 5th floor with no elevator.
I’ve done laundry nine months pregnant and waddling, holding the hand of a toddler and pushing my (why didn’t we get this sooner) laundry/grocery cart to the place across the street.
Some friends wonder why we would choose to live this way. But, what they don’t know is that all along the way I’ve gotten to experience God’s love through other people and, maybe, just maybe, have been able to show them love too.
At our first laundromat, the woman who worked there treated Cool Baby as if he were her grandson, offers of cookies and all (which I ate, sorry CB). Another laundromat introduced me to a girl who lived in our building and a long meaning-of-life talk while we waited for our clothes to dry. The couple who own the laundromat across the street saw my belly grow by the week, the husband looking very nervous that I would give birth right then and there, and another employee often loaded my dryer for me for no reason even though she had plenty of other work to do. A ran into her when crossing the street with a 2-week-old Cool Newbie and she was so excited to see him as I tried to answer all the questions she asked me in Spanish.
While I’ve never tested the kindness of the laundromat employees by waiting a whole week to pick up my clean clothes from the dryer–true story, my friend did this and her clothes were waiting for her miraculously–I have been really blessed by the laundromats.
As I type, I’m listening to a worship CD that a sweet woman at another laundromat gave me a couple of days ago. The Floridians and Southerners out there might not understand what a rare occurrence it is to walk into a business here and hear Christian music playing, but when I heard it, I had to ask if that was a new radio station or something. (There are none that I know of on FM radio in this city.)
We started talking and when I came back to move the clothes to the dryer, I saw her open her CD storage album and try to rip out one of the sections of it by hand. Cool Dad and I always cringe when we see useful things being ruined, so I tried to stop her and ask her what she was doing. Her English wasn’t perfect, but I soon realized she was doing that for me, so that I could take 2 of her CD’s home with me. I was humbled. It’s something I would have never thought to do for someone else. There I was in the laundromat, again, experiencing God’s love.