the Laundry

We’ve been using cloth diapers, not exclusively but daily, for several months now. This has made me feel altogether more accomplished as a housekeeper. Perhaps this is why I breezed through the laundry sorting Monday morning, thinking deep on other things. Perhaps this is why two new dresses worn over the weekend, one red and one white with flowers, ended up together in a delicates cycle. Perhaps this is why the white dress is now pink and has been soaking in my sink since Monday afternoon.

I could blame it on baby brain, but here’s a secret: I did plenty of stupid things before babies.

I am here to tell you: not oxi-clean, not white vinegar, not hydrogen peroxide, not baking soda, no prayer of penitence, has removed the red stain from my dress. I’m not ready to give up. They say not to let it dry, but I’m not sure how much longer I can set aside that sink, or how much longer it can soak before the fabric dissolves.

I’ve had it on my mind to write something beautiful about cloth diapering— what it’s taught me about renewal and how lovely they look, the once rank pile, washed clean and sweet smelling and bright on the line in the sun. Wendell Berry said to “practice resurrection” and practically speaking, what better way is there than to take something so soiled and considered necessarily disposable by our society, and renew it well, again and again? 

But I can’t write anything like that now, because it sounds too perfect in light of my failures. The truth is, cloth diapering has been good for me because it has taught me faithfulness in this one little area. I confess, until marriage, I cast my stains upon my mother. I said she was good at this, but really she was just more patient.

One day, Lord willing, I will be great enough to take on the stains of my children, grass and mustard and charcoal, garments improperly paired, but today, today I turn again to google and simply refuse the take the pink dress out of the sink just yet. In my trying and remembering, I have a long way to go.

But I remember something else now. That quote of Wendell Berry’s, it’s from a poem, and doesn’t the line before say “Be like the fox who makes more tracks than necessary, some in the wrong direction” ? And so perhaps in my failures, in ruining things, wasting time, circling back and forgetting, perhaps I am the one coming clean, and perhaps resurrection is happening, whether I practice it or not.

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