12 Loads of Laundry

My oldest stepdaughter has this really sweet way of finding me in the midst of doing housework, when the other kids are off playing. Her bids for attention are quiet, sincere, and patient. I'll be in the middle of work at the kitchen table, making a meal, cleaning the kitchen, or doing laundry, and she'll come in and almost silently sit or stand near me until I ask if she needs something. Usually she'll answer that she's just "hanging out", and then waits for me to engage, which I always do.

It's in these rare one-on-one moments that we bond, learning more about each other than we typically share with the rest of the world. These are the moments when her gentle persistence pulls me out of my to-do list into treasured conversation where she opens up about school, dance, and expresses curiosity about me and the stories of my life.

Sometimes we talk about deep important topics. Faith, emotions, our family, what we both want to do "when we grow up". And sometimes we talk about laundry.

One Saturday morning, I woke before anyone else in the house, and she met me in the hallway where I was starting a load of laundry and getting ready to fold a freshly warm overflowing basket of towels. She offered to help, and I readily took her up on the offer. As we folded and began our quiet chat about the morning and the day ahead, she looked at me and asked, "Jess, how many loads of laundry do you do every week?"

I laughed and answered, "Sometimes five or six, but this week I washed all the bedding and there were extra loads from activities. So twelve."

She stared right at me as her eyes got huge. Then she dropped her head, and continued folding.

Feeling a moment of empathy between us, and questions unasked; I knelt down to her level, looked her in the eyes, and with a big hug said, "I wouldn't trade this life if it meant doing forty loads of laundry." Her face grew wide with a smile and she hugged me back.