It’s a necessary evil, the laundry. And it’s one where you can take subtle action, without getting FEMINISM tattooed across your chest.
Stop. Washing. Boys. Socks.
It’s especially pertinent when you have a family comprising of small people. Luckily, for the most part, mine have made it past the spaghetti-down-the-front stage of childhood. I’m in that gentle reprieve right now. It’s the twilight years between vomit down my back and waiting for the mud-splattered knees of torn school trousers. But it’s coming. Oh yes, it’s coming.
Before I had a tumble drier, years were spent hanging “out” washing. When I say ‘out’, I mean stuffing wet clothes over radiators and on drying racks. The chic style of dangling duvets over bannisters, dusty doors and dining chairs until crisp.
I’m not going to lie. The tumble drier, much like the dishwasher – these machines designed so that we too, girls, can go out to work with the men – was an absolute game changer. And rather than feel guilty about the cost of running it, I just count the hours saved each week. Except it’s summer now, so you have to try and be wholesome and use the outside line, right?
But what about doing the whole household’s washing? Um, hello, equality? About five years ago, when my youngest was still a baby, I noticed that I was really the only person doing the laundry.
I decided, if the act of love of washing my partners’ socks wasn’t reciprocated, I wasn’t doing it anymore. Yes I’d still cook and breastfeed, and go to work, and clean the bathroom and shave my legs (occasionally), but I wasn’t going to wash his god damn socks anymore. Why? Because he could do it himself.
Ultimately the laundry situation had nothing to do with the ending of that relationship. But I kept the same attitude to washing boys socks in my next relationship. It made sense, why do the laundry of four people, when only one quarter of that work load was mine? Unlike if I went on cooking strike, if I didn’t wash their socks I wasn’t left hangry to the point where I would start throwing things. (Yes, to my shame, that has happened.)
When my teenager started being a right propper little arsehole, I just thought it was time to stop. Unappreciated, treated like a bed and breakfast, taxi driver, chef, and cleaner. If you live with small boys you will know the sheer joy (NOT) of sitting in someone else’s urine on the seat every damn day. So the Langers launderette closed. Just like that.
After a short lesson that was the end of it. Now I still do laundry for the seven year old, because I’m not a complete bitch. And besides, it fills the load when it’s my stuff going through a cycle at the weekend.
Recently, the still very much an asshole 16-year-old stated that he’d – unprompted – put clean bedding on his bed. I was impressed. His room was almost tidy too. Then he came foraging in the kitchen and I asked what he was doing. “Just getting my washing out”, he said.
“Where are you and what have you done with my son?”
Meanwhile, my other half’s washing pile is overflowing, the teenager is still asking me to pull tenners out of my arse like ‘effing Debbie Magee, but I’m not folding a never- ending pile of ‘Calvies’ anymore.
Sometimes the best type of action you can take is inaction. My favourite kind of activism.