Laundry, Love + Letting Go: Lessons on Life & Recovery From a Stay At Home Mom

The darn laundry is never done.

EVER

That’s because even if I were to wash every single article of clothing in all FIVE hampers–  the clothes we are wearing would still need to be washed.

A new pile of clothes is in the laundry basket as soon as the clean clothes are put away.  Actually, they’re probably on the floor, somewhere near their hamper.

And it feels overwhelming. Daunting. And never ending.

We have this strange notion in our society that the busier we are, the better we are. We learn not to sit down and rest until the job is done.

The problem with being a stay at home mom is you’re at work 24 hours a day and the job is NEVER EVER done.

Just like the endless cycle of laundry, there is an endless cycling of dishes, dirty floors, and messy rooms. As soon as I run the dishwasher, someone else is eating off a new plate. Dirty shoes walk onto my kitchen floor tracking in prints before I can even finish emptying the dustpan into the trash.

It never ends

All of this reminds me of our society’s obsession with thinness. The virtue to always do more, be better, and be smaller can also be a never ending struggle.

In recovery I’ve learned that balance is needed in other area of our life besides food and body. If I wait until all of my daily tasks are complete before I allow myself to rest or relax, I will never relax.

If I work until I am tired to the bone, I deny myself the rest and time for activities I enjoy. It’s really not that different than restricting my favorite foods.

If I don’t allow myself to sit on the couch with a good book, watch a favorite tv show, or go for a leisurely walk, I am denying myself.

Saying “I can’t relax until my house is clean and the laundry is done” isn’t very different from saying “I can’t be happy until I lose XXX pounds”  And neither statement is true. 

When I first became a mom, I scoured books and the internet for tips and suggestions.  One piece of advice that stuck out was this, “Always do at least one load of laundry per day, and it will never over take. It’s a lesson in moderation I have been able to apply in one area of my life.

Yes, I long for a day when there is an empty laundry basket and all of the clothes are put away.  Sure, part of me dreams of it, thinking then I can finally exhale and relax.

The obvious problem is- that is never going to happen.

Joy

Allowing myself breaks among the chaos and recognizing that a spotless house and complete “to do” list will not magically make me happy has been a game changer. It is all about accepting what I view as imperfections and focusing on the joy within my home.

Which is very similar to how I can heal my relationship with food and my body. Allowing myself to exhale, relax, and giving myself a break among chaos is mandatory if I’m going to live joyfully.

Because a life that is truly being lived is messy. It is filled with ups and downs, dirty clothes, and smelly socks. But life is also filled with love and joy.

For me, the biggest challenges of recovery are learning to let go of what I can’t control, accepting myself and others as they are, compassion, and being open minded and open hearted.  Just like laundry, this work is not something that I will finish mastering. I won’t check it off of a list, exhale, and never have to do again.

This is because people, our environment, our relationships, our needs, and our desires are constantly changing. Just as our bodies are constantly changing. I understand I need to accept that this work will never be done.

But also like the laundry, there are times I need to take a break in the middle of the chaos to exhale, relax, and let myself do what I want. It is all okay and will be okay.

Because I am blessed to have clothing just as I am blessed to have recovery.

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