The Mercedes-Benz Stadium security took Kristen’s favorite purse because I suppose it didn’t look enough like a Ziploc sandwich bag. So, she was a little chapped before the game even started. Then Atlanta United slipped and let the Red Bulls score with a minute left, settling for a tie game that really felt like a loss. It was a blazing hot day and the trudge back to the car was slow and sticky. The traffic getting out of there moved like a hopeless zipper and we had a lot to get done that night. It was a perfect storm of Sunday stress.
The kids were heading to sleepaway camp in a couple days and Kristen and I were going out West so it was time to get organized (panic). I loathe packing to the point I sometimes think “I’ve been enough places. I’m good.” Kristen is better at travel prep but that doesn’t mean she likes it. She clearly doesn’t tolerate her less-skilled teammates all that well. The camp requirements looked like a check list for NASA (if NASA shopped at REI) and launch day was fast approaching. The kids experience absolutely zero packing anxiety because, brilliantly, they don’t trouble themselves with such things.
I folded myself into laundry detail. I don’t much care for that job either, but it allowed me to squirrel away for a bit. I envisioned myself as Kristen’s sous packer, readying the clothes as she systematically meted out towels, flashlights and toiletries. I had to be stealth because it bothers her that I sort through my own laundry first. She thinks that I’m thinking that if an earthquake struck and we had to make a dash for it, maybe she would pick up the task after the dust settled. And I might be but the chances of that are slim.
I just happen to be the biggest person in the household and I work from large items to small. This makes sense so I can get a better look at the 87 pairs of underwear my family of four has worn in the previous week. An unavoidable interruption really would be welcomed though. Nothing catastrophic, but maybe the dog needs a walk? And then a neighbor needs help moving something heavy? And then they ask me to join them for a beer on the porch? Totally unavoidable!
I sharpened my focus. Once all the dad-wear was squared away, I went for the larger of the small people’s duds and separated into piles. Elliott’s clothes are mini-versions of my own so they were relatively easy. Stretching into hour two of folding, I was left with Kristen and Margo’s itty bits and, really, how bad would it be if a smallish meteor struck our general quadrant of Earth? I get carpal tunnel from trying to fold these things in some reasonable fashion but they wear socks that are roughly the size of my thumb! I think I was sweating at this point, but I got through it. Kristen even gave me a small nod of something less than disdain as if to say, “not bad rookie.”
Pictures of laundry don’t make for great Instagram posts, but it is said that life is what happens while making other plans. And calling laundry life may be a stretch, maybe life-prep? Luckily, I didn’t impress Kristen too much with my folding skills. Strictly junior varsity material. The return from sleepaway camp was the big game – the most epic laundry undertaking of the year. Camp was in the mountains but the dampness of their duffels indicated a swampier locale. Left to me, I might have simply set fire to the sleeping bags, but mercifully Kristen was rejuvenated from our trip. She disappeared into the laundry room and I took the dog for a stroll.
Tim Sullivan grew up in a large family in the Northeast and now lives with his small family in Oakhurst. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.