My second favorite household chore is ironing. My first being hitting my head on the top bunk bed until I faint.  —Erma Bombeck

Mabel is my front loading washing machine.  I love her.

After she has purred and clicked for the final time to let me know that the load is done, I go in and pull all the nearly already dry laundry out and stick it in the dryer that does not have a name because, well, it’s a dryer. Mabel is my favorite appliance. She is quiet and predictable and has never once let me down.

Years ago, back when life for me was busier and more complicated, I had a cleaning lady. On Sunday evenings, I hollered at everyone I lived with to pick up their junk because anyone who has ever had a cleaning lady knows that you always clean before the cleaning lady comes. Every Monday after I went to work, she showed up and even did laundry if I asked her to. She was fabulous. On Monday evenings, I’d try to get home before the rest of my family so that I could sit in a completely clean house for ten minutes all alone.

I was introduced to the concept of women’s work decades ago when my grandmother would crank up her wringer washing machine in the garage up at the lake. My sister and I could stand and watch her use it but we were never allowed to come within five feet of the squat, gurgling, hot monster that smelled like detergent and bleach. My grandmother would stand there sweating with her sleeves rolled up as she carefully guided towels through the wringer. They came out the other side stiff as boards. Once her basket was full, everything was hung on the line. When everything was dry, she ironed. Doing laundry at the lake took her two days.

This week, I am checking items off my list of all the yucky things I do once a year around here. This annual deep dive into the crevices and drains in a house where humans live isn’t pretty. It’s different from the normal, day-to-day tasks like tossing in a load of laundry or unloading the dishwasher. Yesterday I took apart the bathroom sink drain thing-y to clean all the gunk out of it. Then, since I was already grossed out, I gathered up my courage and a wire clothes hanger and fished a lot of long, black, hair out of the shower drain. Children leave you little reminders of themselves when they leave. This is so you don’t miss them too much. My kitchen floor is waiting to be scrubbed of the muddy paw prints of a particular little beagle until the backyard dries out enough to actually make getting down on my hands and knees worth the effort.

I used to have a cleaning lady. Now that cleaning lady is me. And while I may have gunk to clean out of the drains of my life and a small dog who doesn’t know how to wipe her paws, it could be a lot worse. For one thing, I’ve got Mabel and a man who knows how to use her. For another, I can’t even remember the last thing I ironed.  Which, in April or any other month of the year, is pretty darn okay with me.

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