Sometimes I wonder how much of my life I will spend folding laundry.
I tend to get particularly perturbed at the pile of apparel when I come to my husband’s dress shirts to find the same thing, over and over again: sleeves inside out. That means, dear friends, that I have to take time out of my already busy life to turn his sleeves right side out before I can hang the shirts up. How much of my time do I spend putting shirt sleeves right side out?! On one of my “woe is me” days, I think maybe I’ll haul off and scream at him about how I hate his freaking shirts and ask him why he can’t just turn his own damn sleeves right side out and stop wasting my time.
Then I don’t, because that’s not nice.
I take a breath and think about St. Josemaria Escriva, and that “…the Christian vocation consists of making heroic verse out of the prose of each day.” This is my vocation: to be married, to take care of my children, to love my husband, to turn his shirt sleeves right side out and hang them up. And so, I decide not to say anything about the sleeves. Sure, I could mention it to him, and he would try his best to put his sleeves right side out, and I might save a minute or two of my laundry time. But, if he did, I could be missing out on a chance to love, a chance to sacrifice, a chance to put myself second and someone else first.
“You want to put yourself second?” The world might ask. It has even been posed to me, “Can’t you just train your husband to fix his shirts?”
Last I checked, my husband wasn’t a show dog or a trick pony.
It might seem strange that I would relish an opportunity to put myself second. Some women might even say I’m a disgrace to “feminism” to subject myself to a man, even or especially my own husband. But what I want to ask is, when did marriage become a tally of who does what for whom so that we all have to “equally” “accomodate” the other one? Love, that is, true love, in marriage or between any two persons is never about keeping count of the things we do for each other so we can throw it in their faces or use it to get something in return. It’s not about keeping count, and it’s not about what we can get. It’s a constant giving of ourselves, without asking or desiring anything in return.
And so, love is difficult.
Jesus asks us to love as he does, which is by dying to ourselves. Last I checked, sacrifice wasn’t an easy thing. Loving is not an easy thing. So, why not get some practice in dying to myself with something little? Why not turn his sleeves right side out, or hang up his towel when it falls on the floor, or empty his coffee if he forgets to do it. Then, when the time comes for me to sacrifice something more than a few seconds of laundry, I will have grown in that virtue and grown in love. I mean, practice makes perfect, right?
And when does my husband “turn my sleeves right side out”? When does he sacrifice for me? Answer: I don’t know. I will probably never know all of the things he sacrifices out of his love for me, because he just does them. Even if I asked, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t be able to remember. That’s the point.
Laundry: It’s time well spent.