I love laundry. No really, I do.
I love shopping for it, of course that much is obvious, but I also love washing it, drying it, folding it, sorting it, and putting it away. I love organizing his drawers and closet and folding his teeny little socks into balls.
I was talking to a good friend of mine recently, a new mother, and was surprised she felt the exact same way. She LOVES doing her son's laundry, but can't be bothered with hers or her husbands. I feel the same way.
What is it about my baby's laundry and accompanying chores that makes my heart soar, but sink at the thought of doing my own??
All this reminds me of a conversation I had with Anthony when Hollis was still pretty brand new. Back then we'd give him a bath in the morning then I'd dress him. It was my favorite part of the day; picking out his little onesie and socks, pants, sweaters, whatever. The adorable factor was through the roof and I couldn't believe that I had a baby to dress!! To me, each meticulously picked out article of clothing was tangible evidence of my love. Anthony, on the other hand, saw it as just a means to an end: you gotta cover the baby with something, right?
I was shocked that he never said, "Hey, Jess, let me dress the baby today! It's my turn!" because I sure as hell would have if he'd been bogarting the dress-the-baby time all for himself. He just didn't get it.
It only took me a second to realize my entire life of owning Barbies, dressing my cats and dogs, playing "dress up" with my friends, obsessing with makeup and my appearance was all somehow an evolutionary dress rehearsal for getting immense pleasure in dressing my baby. I had such deeply rooted pleasure sensors at wrapping Hollis in blankets, putting booties on his feet, etc., that I couldn't separate my desire for dressing up my baby from Anthony's completely utilitarian approach and was totally shocked that it was just me.
Of course my motivation doesn't make me better, but it certainly makes me different from Anthony. I wonder if that's what my friend was feeling, too. Her husband wasn't thrilled at doing the baby's laundry or dressing him, either. Do other women feel this way, too?
It certainly occurs to me that this isn't the most feminist of ideas: that I'm "programmed" to enjoy dressing my child, but then again, maybe it is. I'm a product of the world I grew up in, all the social conditioning coupled with innate programming. Maybe I'm really enjoying what I, as a female, am supposed to enjoy doing. And that is a big aspect of feminist thought today: do whatever makes YOU happy and fulfilled (not the whole old "You are a feminist only if you reject the kyriarchy and do everything a man would do all on your own."). Evolutionary adaptation is about rewarding behaviors that contribute to the success of the species. Making sure your baby is well protected from the elements is certainly part of that process.
I dunno - certainly deep thoughts about baby laundry, I know.
As Hollis continues to grow my pleasure in clothing him and taking care of those clothes continues also. I don't know if there will ever be a time when I'm tired of touching and smelling his tiny t-shirts and itty-bitty jean shorts; there's literally nothing cuter to me during my daily hum-drum chore list than this.
Maybe by the time he's 15 and stinky and probably not as clean as I would prefer him to be he can start washing his own clothes. Until then I will happily dive into his little laundry basket of love and stay a while.