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A mother is a machine for converting dirty laundry to clean clothes; discuss.

I don’t know how I came to be the only one that does the laundry in our home. We certainly never had a discussion about it. Probably, when we were a young couple, I offered to put his laundry in with mine. If there’s one thing I could say to my younger self, it would be this: it is not cute, it is not grown-up to share a washing basket, unless you also share the laundry task itself. Before you know it, you are a middle-aged woman, with a dodgy back, wrestling with six wet pairs of adult-sized jeans.

Saturday is my laundry day because it is the first day I do not have to work, and the first day the children take off their school uniform. There is just time to get it all washed and dried before they need it again on Monday. Of course, I have duplicates of most things, but there are always a few items that can’t be duplicated.

I know that laundry is no where near as dreadful a task for me as it was for my grandmothers, or even my mother with her twin tub and outside line. For me, most of the challenge is the logistics: sorting, planning the washloads so that we are not trying to dry everything at the same time, then sorting out the clean dry clothes back into cupboards.

But this is precisely the reason why it resists all my attempts to pass the chore onto the rest of the family. Brute labour might be something they can do, grudgingly, but the rules of laundry are as complex as the offside rule in football. As a set of individuals they are incapable of coordinating use of the various machines. None of them seem able to sort socks into pairs, or assign the finished pairs to their correct owner, without raging arguments.

I have tried teaching each person to do their own laundry, I have tried doing it collectively, I have tried rotating the chore around one person after another, I have even tried making it into a game, but to no avail. Laundry remains, fairly and squarely, a task for me alone.

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Is there ever a good time to hear that question? Definitely not eight o’clock on a Monday morning. Not as we were all scrambling to get back to work and school, after taking the week off.

The honest answer is that I have absolutely no idea where the rugby tops have gone. I believe there are two in existence. Occasionally they pass through my hands as I do the washing, but not as often as a rational person would expect, given how often they are worn on sweaty teenage bodies. I have not seen either since Christmas, which suggests that they are in one of two places, places whose very names fill me with dread.

The first being the school lost property bin: a place close to purgatory.

The second being my son’s bedroom: a place closer to hell. You can see from the picture that his chair has become his wardrobe. Somewhere, on the floor of that room, under his bed, in a corner, there may well lurk some poor traumatised rugby top. Perhaps both of them, huddling together for comfort.

The only thing I know for sure is that this time I am not going to go in. This time, he’ll have to find it for himself…

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