On the super fun days I get to fill my washer with a hose. I know—you’re jealous. All I need is one helper, two walkie talkies, and we’re off like a fireman and a kiddie pool.
I spin and pull the dial that usually signals a water drop, and yank the hose across the floor. I prop it far enough down in the drum so it doesn’t flip back out (only takes once to learn such lessons), and radio the chosen child.
“Okay… let it rip!”
“Ten-four… here it comes.”
I’m not sure which part he enjoys more: the walkie talkie or feeling needed.
I add soap and clothes and wait for the sensor to tell me it reached its limit. A line of water drips from the wall to the machine, but no matter—my laundry room is outside. Concrete floors come in so handy on days like this.
Back to the child’s toy helping me tell my (now bored because two minutes passed) boy, “Okay, bud—that’s enough.”
“Thanks for your help.”
“Welcome. Love you!”
It would never dawn on me to tell my husband I loved him after helping with an outside project; this particular little man doesn’t separate what should happen when though. Only this professional cuddler ends a chore with such sentiments. And I love him for it; he put a new perspective in my brain today.
Our occasional laundry process might sound ridiculously inconvenient, but it rekindles dwindled thankfulness. Giving thanks for our washing machine rarely crosses my mind. I’ve had washers in my life since birth; it never occurred to me they were luxuries.
We who grew up in middle-class America probably put our washing machine into the same category as a toilet. It’s not a want, it’s a need. And when it breaks, switching to a washboard is not the option coming to mind.
Didn’t even know they still sold these. Props to the market in the next town over.
I only have one memory of hauling clothes down to the laundromat as a young child. Back then it was more of an adventure than a burden, and if my mother had any twinges of frustration, she hid them well. We scrounged for quarters, poured powdered soap in a Ziploc, brought something to do while we waited, and encountered interesting people. It was only about a half mile from our house but we felt like we entered a different world. And folks do this every day?
Now the only time we frequent a laundromat is when we’re camping for more than a weekend. Our kids love putting in all the quarters, pushing the right buttons and watching the huge drum dry two loads of wet clothes at once. Mesmerizing indeed.
But it’s only fun because it’s not our normal.
On the days I’m slowed to a snail’s pace, I become acutely aware of my economically thrashed neighbors. All of a sudden I am tuned into their daily struggle. Most of them own washers—but the secondhand blessings sit outside on pallets, up against the sides of the houses, exposed to the elements.
And some of the poorer people still wash their clothes on a washboard. A washboard? Really? In 2016? I have one built into my laundry room that came with the house, but it’s not like I ever use it for scrubbing skivvies. The only time it gets any love is when I occasionally need to rinse out a paint brush or nasty rag.
After two days of walkie talkie excitement one of our employees showed me the problem with my sad washer and fixed it. Bam—back to laundry bliss. I looked at the big white box differently that afternoon and couldn’t believe how much love I felt toward the thing.
For a couple days anyway. Then it was back to normal.
I don’t thank Jesus for my washer each morning. I don’t think about it throughout the afternoon. And I certainly don’t pray with our kids at night with the joys of such a machine on my lips.
I’m thankful for my washer, yes, but when it starts working again it fades to the background and becomes another piece of equipment I feel entitled to own. (Cue the cringing locals.)
Our dinner and bedtime prayers change every once in a while. From the typical thankfulness for food, health, cozy beds, and a dry roof in the rain, to basic appliances. Neighbors six houses down wash dishes outside in a basin. Across the street, the mostly-deaf and always-sweet old man cooks beans in a shed. And down the road the other way… a fire pit isn’t ever used for a cozy night of s’mores; it cooks three meals. Every. Day.
I have two Facebook friends with crazy-big families. One has nine children, the other has ten. T-E-N. As in, they wash clothes for eleven and thirteen people respectively. Can we please take a moment of silence for their laundry loads?
Seriously, bow your head.
I did two loads this morning. Whoop-dee-laundry-do. Took me less than five minutes to gather each one from three rooms, walk it outside, twist and pop the knob, add soap, dump the load, close the lid and set a timer so I don’t forget to hang it before the sun goes down.
The lady a few blocks down though, who’s scrubbing shirts for six people, wringing out heavy jeans, and hoping it will get warm enough for them to dry on the chainlink? I reckon it’s taking her most of the morning to do one load.
And the bachelor in upper Manhattan who wears a fancy-shmancy uniform of starched shirts and dry-cleaned slacks five days a week? I’m guessing his laundry basket does not see much action. He still has to wash those tighty-whities at some point though.
So yes, we’re all doing it. Some more than others. But if we can move our thankfulness meter from, “Of course I appreciate my washer but honestly, I deserve it” to, “Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of a machine that washes my clothes so I don’t have to” I bet we’ll see a difference in our attitudes of entitlement.
When we teach our children to gather, sort, twist, pop, measure and dump, may we impart gratitude for a modern day luxury. And
if when they whine about having to do laundry–let’s all go buy them washboards. Because honestly, none of us deserve a washer; we’re fortunate to have one.
I’m starting with being thankful for the basics and moving out. Today it’s my washer, tomorrow it could be my ‘90s toaster with seven levels. For real—who needs seven options of toastiness? And the next day… I could be singing praises for my hand-held face scrubber. I can’t be sure.
What I can be sure of is this: washing machines rock. And so does God for blessing us with such things.
First drum washing machine, invented in 1851 by James King, was hand-powered. #biceps
Who says your washing machine has to stay in the laundry room? The Bauknecht would look fabulous in your sterile family room next to your hard couch/bed thingy.
Have you ever had an appliance break that significantly inconvenienced you?
What are you thankful for in the “basic needs” category? And if it broke for good?
How would your life change without a refrigerator, oven, or stove?
“Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
~ 1 Thessalonians 5:18