In the quest to find the Zen in motherhood, I encounter obstacles every day. They range from the mind-numbing monotony of tidying up toys, to unfinished to-do lists, to managing the household and my own business. And then there’s temper tantrums, being woken up numerous times a night, unexpected trips to the garage to get the car fixed, and my husband having to stay late at the office when we have a family dinner planned.
Whenever I begin to feel my equilibrium start to tip, when my “Zen” starts to go out the window, I repeat to myself: “There will always be laundry.”
This mantra comes from a realization I had years ago when my daughter was a few months old. At the time, we were living in a funky walk-up apartment in Ottawa but we didn’t have laundry facilities. Luckily, there was a great laundromat across the street. One day, I had finished what felt like a hundred loads of laundry. Everything was neatly folded and put in its drawer or closet and I remember relishing the feeling of “getting it all done.” I felt a sense of balance, of order, and thought that perhaps this is how I’d feel if I accomplished my to-do lists every day.
I went about my day puffed up with this feeling. There was music class with my daughter, some freelance work, a workout, a walk to meet my husband, dinner, bath time. But that night, as I was putting my daughter to bed, I looked at her laundry bag – half-full. I looked at the laundry hamper my husband and I share – a quarter full. Anxiety filled me as I realized that after doing all the laundry that morning I was going to have to do it all over again – if not tomorrow, then next day or the day after.
Then it hit me: there will always be laundry.
Rather than get upset, this is something to celebrate. It means I’m living. We’re living.
Every load of dirty clothes, towels, sheets, burp cloths and baby blankets represents another day or week that we have lived. So instead of waiting until everything on my to-do list is done to feel balanced, I only needed to find my balance amidst the laundry.
With two kids, the laundry seems to have quadrupled, but even though it feels like there’s constantly a full hamper somewhere in our house, I’ve got my mantra to keep me sane.
There are always going to be things that get in the way of me staying centered. The best I can do is try to maintain my Zen despite these obstacles. Someone once said to me, “If you died today, your life inbox would still be full tomorrow.”
And, of course, there will always be laundry.