Surrendering The Laundry

The buzzer on the dryer sounds, it's time to make a decision. Do I let the clothes sit until nap time or do I save them from their wrinkled fate? Leaving them makes me twitchy, so I go for it. Right on cue, my little helper runs in to help me “pack”. I feel myself tense up, but take a deep breath and say, "Sure buddy, let's pack!"

I think of myself as a go-with-the-flow kind of mom, but if you start messing with my laundry, the control freak comes out. I always separate clothes by color, I remain aware of certain items that cannot go in the dryer, and wrinkled clothes are not acceptable. I usually don’t have time to fold immediately, but I do lay the clothes flat so by the time I get to them they’re not a crumpled mess. Having a two year old who thinks doing laundry is the best thing next to goldfish crackers doesn’t really mesh with my laundry plans. M doesn't have the patience to wait for my lay flat technique or the fine motor skills to accomplish it. For him it’s a win if he gets a piece in the basket.

My control over the laundry is a strange contradiction for me. I decided before M was born that while I would listen to the advice, read the baby blogs and books, ultimately we would do what was best for us. From the day our son was born we struggled with breast-feeding. His latch wasn’t quite right and he wasn’t getting enough milk. Even with a snipped tongue tie, help from lactation consultants and the use of nipple shields, he lost too much weight his first week of life. After our first pediatrician appointment I was sitting on the couch trying to get him to latch, sans shields, because the doctor had convinced me there was no way to successfully feed with them. After a tortuous session that had the baby and me in tears, my mom looked over at me and said, “Just do what works.”

Yes, I thought with relief, do what works.

I used those shields for 4 months and was able to feed my son.

My go-with-the-flow mentality meant I never followed strict schedules. He slept when he slept, ate when he ate, and was awake when he felt like it. If he cried during the night I would pick him up, rock, pat, sing, or bring him to bed with me. Now that he’s a toddler it’s a little more challenging, but I can still let a lot of things slide. If toys are all over his room, they’ll get picked up eventually. If he wants a snack when he just had one, I say eat up. If he feels like lying down in the middle of the store, sweet, I might just join him. This doesn’t mean my home is a free-for-all or that I’m raising a wild child. He has rules and guidelines, but I want M to feel free to explore and discover the world with me beside him, without pulling him along or holding him back.

I can’t always be beside him. During the week I leave M with my husband, in the safe but vulnerable car, and unpredictable traffic. I hand him over to the care of his teachers for six hours a day where they are responsible for his every need. At night, I yield him to his room, his bed, and the many unknowns of the dark. There are things that can happen during these times that I cannot control. I cannot stop the car that runs the red light, a fall at school, or an unseen sickness. I cannot control him, I know that, and that’s why I have to surrender him to the One who does.

Surrendering doesn’t mean that I don’t worry, but it does mean that I have a place to put that worry. I believe that God is in control of my life so I can hand things over to him. Like my toddler, I too have instructions to follow, but I also have a God that is holding my hand and always by my side. What do I get from all this surrendering? Peace. Freedom. Confidence. The same things I hope M feels from me. Just as I look to God to learn and grow, M looks to me to teach him.

I must also let him do.

The first time he attempted the big slide at the park he wouldn’t go up without me. His little hand gripped mine with a mixture of fear and excitement, and his steps were heavy with hesitation. The second time he went alone, but cautiously he looked back several times to make sure I was there. The third time he courageously climbed to the top without searching for me because he believed that I would be waiting at the bottom. I want M to know that I will always be there, even when he can’t see me. That he can look to me for guidance; bring me his problems, all while having faith in my unconditional love.  My desire is that through my actions as a mother I am reflecting God’s promises.

Does God care about my laundry? Probably not, but I do think he cares about how I approach it and the mindset that I am in when it comes time to empty the dryer.  Perhaps my issue with the laundry is because I can exercise complete control over it. More importantly, I don’t need to control it, and I certainly don’t need the anxiety that comes with trying to maintain that control.

Perhaps I need to treat the laundry like it’s a weight to surrender to God?

Or, perhaps I’ll just surrender it to M and just hope I can embrace the wrinkles.

JOURNALIST: Michelle Windsor