I want to start this post with a celebration. No, not of adoption or spring or anything, but for the first time in approximately…5 years there isn’t a giant pile of laundry obscuring the end of my bed. Now, I want to stress here that the pile has shifted over time in size and scope and of course it’s always clean – there’s another location in the basement for the dirty stuff – and we do tend to be dressed fairly often, so I definitely keep folding stuff and putting it away.
But it has always been there, an omnipresent stack of cloth that has to be shifted and stacked ever-so-carefully so as not to fall on the floor when it’s bedtime.
When we put the house on the market briefly last summer, I might have hid the pile in the closet, so it appeared as though there was no laundry pile, but in fact there still was. The laundry pile is always there, like an immobile clutter stalker, greeting me every time I walk into the bedroom. Since the bedroom is also my office (that tiny 4×38″ – approximately, I think it’s really 36.5″ – area has a different kind of omnipresent clutter) I walk by the giant pile of laundry dozens of times every day.
It stares back at me, daring me to think I could clear it. I avert my gaze and keep walking to heat my tea.
But since we’re deep in preparing for children, and while I really don’t think a 4 or 7 year old is going to judge me but their social worker, current foster families who want to stay connected and all other the people who are starting to want to visit and meet our fabulous new family members, and presumably also enjoy seeing the not-so-new ones, might, I decided to make it go away.
I should note that this anticipation of judgement has also got me bleaching grout and contemplating if we have just enough time to paint every single wall in the house so it looks fresh and pretty.
Eli says we don’t have time, but I don’t think he’s being fair – he could do it in his copious free time if he really wanted to. Did I mention he doesn’t have any free time?
Just ignore that point – not pertinent.
But the laundry pile. It meant turning the accidentally bleached black t-shirt that I had to secretly replace for my oldest child into rags, actually putting outgrown kid clothes into labeled bins and transporting them to the attic (or an attic-adjacent location with good intentions of getting them to their final destination soon) and actually folding fitted sheets, which no one on earth except my ex-husband actually knows how to fold flat.
And NO, I emphatically didn’t stay friendly with him so that I could occasionally implore him to fold my fitted sheets, although I freely admit I’ve wondered if that’s over the line to ask a few times. He stresses that I could learn if I just took the time, but clearly that’s not the right solution.
In any case, for a brief, shining moment, the foot of the bed is almost laundry free – almost because of the giant pile of unmatched socks that still linger on the bench that sits in front of the foot of the bed. These too, morph and evolve, but there’s always a really spectacular number of unmatched socks. If it wasn’t so annoying it would be impressive.
“Are you ready? You must be so excited!” says people. “Huh, I say. I had forgotten that the end of the bed matched the headboard. I mean I sort of knew, but it’s been so long, you see...”
I think they are talking about kids, but I’m busy being mesmerized by the clean spot in the house I’ve made. It’s also distracting me from other things that are far, far weightier like how in the world I’m going to parent 4 kids, work full time, garden, run, manage the house, find time to occasionally lob a kiss at my husband and remember that friends and family need me too. Oh, and also we have to feed everyone. 2-3 times a day, every day.
“Totally excited.” I murmer. And while truly, I am, I am also worried.
You see, I’ve done this before, well, not really – but I had babies and neither one slept for a year and I was so tired I forgot to pay bills and the exhaustion was so bad I would go to the store for bread and come home with no bread and 14 kinds of cheese because it was just so exciting to be alone for a little while even though there were almost certainly other people in the grocery store, I would think.
I don’t know, I don’t remember.
And your life gets down to the minute. Will I make it through this hour, to bedtime, to Friday. But the difference this time, accounting for the extra complexity of caring for kids, integrating our family with them here, dealing with their traumas and losses, keeping our eye on the ball with the older, biological kids to make sure that they are okay too, and do this while juggling housework, laundry, meal-making, groceries, yard work and work work.
And that’s where truly living in the moment has to come in. In order to make it all happen, it’s really fine to break life down into 15 minute chunks where maybe some laundry gets folded (but please not at the very clean foot of my bed kthx) or dinner gets prepared, at least in some part, or you get that thing that’s overdue at work finally completed. I used to write down the 6 things I was going to do each day, often only getting to 3-4, but writing them down does indicate that there’s a strong likelihood you will get to them.
And that’s going to be our lives for a little bit. And with that comes the other piece – acceptance. This is a phase. It’s a phase where there’s too much to do and not enough time, but it’s also our last round of littles, and Eli’s first true round of them, so we need to be present and enjoy it. Is it all going to be enjoyable? Ohhellzno. But some of it is going to be really, really fun. The next 2 weeks while we drive 60+ miles each way for transition visits and upend everyone’s schedule and I cram in 2 more work trips, not so much.
But after that there’s a little downtime. Just enough to go to the playground and come home and eat string cheese with a very small little person who just needs somewhere to belong. The laundry can wait.