clothes pins laundryIt is my morning rorschach test. Every day as I step my way around the clean basket of laundry my mood is revealed before I have made it down the stairs.

This morning it was sitting there hissing that things are never done. Not just the laundry which obviously is never done, but the training of our kids. We can have family meeting and talk about contributing to our household. They can learn to scrape oatmeal bowls and shut their doors so I can’t see their floors. Which I wouldn’t be able to see anyways. Yet this basket is invisible to them. Their doors are at ninety degrees to each other and the basket sits blocking both of them. Last week Leo was laundry. He switched the wet clothes. He folded. He found a place for the bathing suits. Yet every day dozens of times he avoided this basket.

There are mornings when I see the softly worn fitted sheet and wonder if Leo will ever stop loving pink. We selected it together, a bold graphic with pink and purple, orange and yellow its circles clustered together to imply a pop art flower. He was four at the time and I was pleased to have this bold accent, our secret, hidden under his navy comforter. He doesn’t love it anymore. He simply uses the top sheet on the pile and for a while it has not been this one sitting as it is in the perpetual laundry basket.

Yesterday the IBM towel that had been the uppermost strata had capsized onto the floor so the laundry itself took up even more of the landing. As I wound my way down the stairs my mind curled through our past three years. The confusion over whether Steve would keep his job at IBM, the crazy decision to preemptively move to Denver in case the sale of his microelectronics area resulted in layoffs. Our settling in and Big Blue settling its sale. Steve has the same job, same projects, same customers, same co-workers. The only thing that changed was our zip code. Which turns out to be unnecessary.

The basket sits less than 18 inches from the entrance to the linen closet. Inside it is always more orderly than I imagine. Things are crisply folded. Except of course the fitted sheets because that would be impossible. Instead I have crumpled them each into a ball hiding the elastic in the middle. I give them a crease in the front and press them down to resemble a stack. Sometimes when I open the door they burst out like a spring snake unable to be contained. Even as I gather them back to their slot I feel oddly proud. They burst forth. They sensed freedom. They made it out of the closet.

My husband has skirted it hundreds of times. He does more than 50% of our housework and rarely lets things dangle like this. I wonder if he has stopped seeing it, or is using it the way I am, testing both my family and my mood. Sometimes it seems a task to be done, sometimes a pathway to memories, always an obstacle. I think I would mind it more if I wasn’t the one who left it there.

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Anna Rosenblum Palmer is a freelance writer based in Denver, CO. She writes about sex, parenting, cat pee, bi-polar disorder and the NFL; all things inextricably intertwined with her mental health. In her free time she teaches her boys creative swear words, seeks the last missing puzzle piece and thinks deeply about how she is not exercising. Her writing can be found on Babble, Parent.co, Great Moments in Parenting, Ravishly, Good Men Project, Sammiches and Psych Meds, Playpen, Crazy Good Parent, and YourTango. She also does a fair amount of navel gazing on her own blog at annarosenblumpalmer.com.

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