My husband was shocked when he learned that, for my birthday, I wanted, not to go on a nature hike, but to have help folding the laundry.  He rejected that request, stating that, while he will never help me with the laundry, he will pay for a wash and fold service. I did not consider that a useful offer.

I may be neurotic, but I hate sending my personal stuff out to wash and fold places.  I don’t trust them to do a good job cleaning the laundry; I don’t trust them not to lose things; I end up having to refold things that don’t fit my cupboards; and everything is unsorted, so I spend almost as long just sorting, as I would sorting and folding.  Overall, the stress and work associated with the wash and fold is almost as bad as doing the laundry myself.

My reluctance to fold expands exponentially when, as today, I have huge piles of clean laundry that need folding.  (In my defense, I seldom have huge piles of dirty laundry.)  The kids cleaned out their closets last week, which was a good thing, but we discovered that both had been using the back of the closets (and, when it came to my son, the area under his bed) as auxiliary laundry baskets.  We also had a passel of mildewed towels, since I can’t seem to convince anyone in this house that wet towels, if left in crumpled heaps on the floor, will indeed smell.

There is a point to my little laundry screed:  it’s impacted my blogging today.  Even when I wasn’t folding, I felt as if I ought to be folding, and therefore couldn’t reward myself for not folding by blogging.  Such is the complicated psychology of a neurotic, procrastinating blogger.

I realized that my tendency towards procrastination is affecting my blogging in another, more subtle way, too.  I’ve always been someone whose forte is working to deadline.  I’m the gal you can call the day before a major project is due, and I’ll just slam it out and have something for you.  Not all people can do that.  I, on the other hand, thrive on the adrenalin rush.

Right now, as the years of the Obama administration stretch out ahead of us, I’m not feeling an adrenalin rush.  In the days, weeks and months leading to the election, I always felt as if I was working on deadline.  To me, each post mattered because it might, just might, make a difference on that Tuesday in November.

Now, though, I’m not working towards a specific deadline.  Instead, every day just sees me watching a slow-mo train wreck in action.  I can’t do anything to stop it, and I don’t have an imminent election looming.  The latter would flog me to blogging, since I’d either try to stop the wreck, or work towards an efficient clean-up.  Sitting and watching is not conducive to adrenalin soaked writing.

I’ll renew my offer to all of you to shoot stuff my way.  I’m so delighted to have different perspectives and styles here.  I won’t, of course, publish something that’s completely antithetical to my way of thinking or values, but I’d love to publish something that goes beyond what I do, think or know.

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  • kali

    This post exhausted me just to read it. I remember doing yard after cubic yard of laundry and suspecting that somehow, other people were sneaking their loads into my laundry room.

    On a serious note, if housework is overwhelming you, hire out *anything* you can stand to have strangers do, and damn the expense. You may still end up being solely responsible for the laundry, but if everything else is clean and orderly, it will be easier.

  • Oldflyer

    What is your husband’s problem, Book? Other than being a liberal, that is.

    A few years ago I announced to my wife that I was going to do the kitchen after dinner from then on. I was retired, and it just seemed like the thing to do after she fixed dinner for us. She acts as though this is the best gift I have ever given; and has told many people about it.

    So much return for so little effort.

  • 11B40


    Perhaps this bears repeating:

    My name is 11B40 and I am a kitchenphobic.

    I have been living with this condition for over fifty years since my beloved mother banished me, for all time, from her beloved kitchen. Due to that trauma, I have been unable to develop or maintain an unthreatening relationship with any of the many kitchens I have had access to since that time.

    Needless to say, this condition has effected all of my relationships with women except for my big sister who has banished me from her life, for all time, because, you guessed it, my mother banished me, for all time, from her beloved kitchen.
I have been desperately trying to overcome my fear in order to have a relationship of true equality with a women, but nothing seems to work.

    I have sought out an experienced therapist, but they always say my condition doesn’t exist, that it’s not in their Diagnostic Manual, whatever that is. I have become paranoid that they are trying to drive me over the edge or into the garbage disposal. One even told me that it’s like homosexuality, it’s just not in their book. And, if it’s not in their book, then there are no instructions on how to cure it.

    I find myself slipping into a life of growing dependency. My dinner has to be brought to me in my Lazy Boy, along with my beer. My dishes are taken away and I never have the opportunity to experience the sense of accomplishment that others enjoy from washing them until they shine. My patience is used up waiting for drinks and snacks. Being home alone can only be compared to time at Abu Gharib. I wouldn’t recognize a stove if one fell on my head.

    So, I am trying to reach out to find other kitchenphobics. My mother looked liked other mothers and acted like other mothers some of the time, so I’m sure there must be others out there who suffer like I do. If we can get in touch and organized, (you know, the support group thing) maybe we help each other and publicize our affliction. Who knows, maybe we can even get Social Security to recognize it as the permanent, compensable disability that it should be.

    Obviously, my big sister very much disagrees. In spite of her direct and catastrophic involvement in the etiology of my disability, she insists that it is nothing more than my juvenile fixation on the First Law of Delegation. You know, delegate all things people do better than you.

  • kali

    11B40, you piker, do you know how many rooms in a house there can be? Get on with it and develop a few more phobias, before suspicious minds ask why you can’t fold laundry and clean bathrooms.



    Banished … and only from the kitchen. I would have had you raised by wolves before I let you sit and be served.

    p.s. very funny rift.

  • Bookworm


    When I was in college, a roommate taught me a valuable lesson. The person who most wants it clean is going to do most of the cleaning….



    1. Hide all washed and folded socks, underwear, clean shirts, and whatever else you can safely secure.

    2. If everyone wants to eat, everyone participates.

    3. If everyone wants clean clothing (washed, dry and folded) everyone participates.

    No use enabling Mr. Book or the kids. If they can get themselves dressed, they’re old enough to help with the process (WDF).

    Remember, when you take prisoners you have to cloth and feed them.

    If all of the above fails, hire someone to come in to do the laundry.


    While I found it strange that Mr. Bookworm refused to help with the laundry, that’s not the point of this.

    When our kids each became old enough to reach the knobs on the washer and drier, they were each given a clothes hamper, taught how to use the machines properly, and placed in charge of their own laundry. If they wanted to wear clean clothes (or, if they wanted to go somewhere or do something for which we parents *required* clean clothes), then they had to do the laundry.

    While not a perfect plan (e.g., when three people each want to use the washer and dryer!), it definitely helped prepare them to be self-supporting. They were quite surprised when they became of college age, and found that some of their friends didn’t even know how to do laundry! Their laundry-challenged friends received some good-natured ribbing (at best), which may have covered up a small bit of contempt, too.

    Oh, yes: the requirement included towels and washcloths — and bed linens. :-)

  • Quisp

    We have friends who require a foot high stack of folded laundry a child in return for 30 minutes of tv or computer time. (They have 8 kids.)

  • Ymarsakar

    I’ll renew my offer to all of you to shoot stuff my way. I’m so delighted to have different perspectives and styles here. I won’t, of course, publish something that’s completely antithetical to my way of thinking or values, but I’d love to publish something that goes beyond what I do, think or know.

    I’ll renew my offer for you to post my Sarah Palin resignation analysis, if you really want something of that kind ; )

  • Mike Devx

    I’m with sadie, colorless, and quisp, in #7, #8, #9.

    Book, this may be cold, but it takes two to tango. If you really do want things to change, you can put your foot down.

    You would face the same problem that any teacher of a class of junior high or high school students faces, however. When you are permissive from the start, and lay down lax rules at the start, it is *very very* difficult to go disciplinarian midstream. It usually results in a difficult fight with great resistance. Long-standing wisdom, at least on the educational front, is to lay down the disciplinarian environment on day one, and relax the rules slowly over the year when the class has proven they can respond appropriately.

    But if you really do want to see a change in the behavior in your house, with the entirely reasonable expectation that family members are not drooling idiots and *can* handle laundry duty responsibly, you should stiffen your spine and go for it.

  • Ruth H

    If Mr B is in any way open to reason here is a ploy.
    The children must be taught to care for themselves.
    Children must be taught order.
    Taking care of your own clothes and laundry, bed, bedroom, cleaning up after yourself in the bathroom are the mainstays of an orderly life.
    Parents are the best teachers in life.
    Both parents.
    He is one of those parents, together they, they parents, teach the children.
    I think you can take it from there.
    This is a do as I suggest, not as I did raise my children.

  • Ruth H

    that is supposed to read “they, the parents,”

  • Charles

    Happy Birthday Book!

    He wouldn’t help fold clothes – not even for your birthday? for shame.

    “When I was in college, a roommate taught me a valuable lesson. The person who most wants it clean is going to do most of the cleaning….”

    Yep, I learned that lesson in college too. My pig of a roommate said that I shouldn’t blame him; rather I should blame my parents who taught me to clean up after myself. This, according to him, made me accustomed to “cleaniness” while the messiness did not bother him. So whose fault was that he said?


    That’s not quite the young age when I learned to do my own laundry; But when I was in high school almost all of us involved in sports had mothers who told us that if we needed clean sports clothes we had better learn how to do it for ourselves. And, yep, that included towels.

    Book and others;

    Yes, I think it would be interesting to read some posts by many of the regular commentators here. That’s one thing I like about your blog – great ideas and great comments.


    Here’s one to get you started


    Ymarsakar Post #10

    That’s quite a challenge.
    Btw…It was you and Charles Martel, who commented on my attempt as a guest blogger.

  • Ymarsakar

    A belated Happy Birthday to you, dear Book.

  • Mike Devx

    Apologies if this repost causes a repeat. I received a Database Connection Error on my submit…


    Yes, an enthusiastic Happy Birthday to you, Book. And many more!

    Concerning my #11 above, I seem to recall in the earlier post on Laundry and housework that the hubby and kiddos simply refused to assist. If that ends up being the case, then I can offer different advice from my ‘Simplicity 101’ category of thoughts:

    – Do only the parts of the housework and laundry, etc, to keep yourself comfortable. Your sanity and stress-free habits will be a welcome reward. If the rest of the household starts to complain, remind them that this is a team effort, and yes, you are waiting…
    – I’d recommend minimal ironing. If you can bear to see your kids and hubby wearing wrinkles.
    – Wash what you can, dry what you can. If they run out, and you can handle the horror of them wearing dirty clothes to their next event – or not going to the event at all because there are no clothes – them’s the breaks. Remind them that this is a team effort…
    – They can’t control you if you don’t let em!

    This reminds me yet again of another idea contained in Atlas Shrugged: The “second-handers”, those who live off the gains of the productive, control the productive because they KNOW that the productive live to… produce! They can’t help themselves, they have to work and produce, because they get so much fulfillment out of it. So the second-handers rely on that as part of their trap.

    To paraphrase:
    Hank Reardon: “And what if, in response to this legislation, this threat, I simply shut my doors and walk away?”
    Wesley Mouch, horrified: “But you can’t do that! You’re Hank Reardon! You’d never walk away! You’ll work even if we not only steal your ideas, but also take every last penny, won’t you?”

    Shades of how your family is running you ragged, Book! Hang in there, and again, Happy Birthday!

  • Al

    A very Happy Birthday, BW!
    The discussions here are rather fascinating. Our, now college aged kids, do their own laundry without a comment. But there are still piles of clothes and towels on the bedroom floors. Both dirty and clean.
    And my bride of two and a half decades refuses to allow me to do laundry. That may be because early on in our relationship when discussing domestic duties I mentioned my first attempt at laundry in college included creating pink underwear when I washed a red veliour (spell?) shirt with the underwear. She’s a Virgo.
    I admit to being an ally of 11B40. Let the woman of the house decide what happens in the house.
    That doesn’t help BW much. Unlike BO, I do not think major changes can occur successfully if they are rapid. At home or abroad.
    I’d start with the kids first. And when Mr. BW sees them doing some folding, he might change his perspective too.
    Again, Happy Birthday BW!

  • Earl

    When I complained about being taught to do laundry, dishes, etc., because “Daddy doesn’t have to”, my mother simply said – I’m not HIS mother, but I’m yours, and you WILL do this stuff. I’ve been grateful ever since.

    She started early and kept it up – I “got it” about 12, and still remember the struggle, AND the recognition that everything worked so much better, and I was so much happier, when we all worked together as a team!

  • Bookworm

    Thank you for the birthday wishes.

    As for the laundry, the adage “choose your battles” is a good one. The kids are responsible for their own laundry, but were away at camp and long stays at friends, which is why they didn’t help here.

    The best thing I did was to stop fighting my son altogether about his room. I realized that I’d always been his safety net. He could let his room get as messy as he wanted, because I’d come along and bully him into cleaning it before the biweekly cleaning lady visit. I suddenly sickened of that charade and told him that, if he wanted the cleaning ladies to dust and vacuum (and, incidentally, destroy spider webs and the like), he would have to signal this desire by readying the room for their visit. He decided he didn’t like the thought of being the only squalid room in the house, and that was that.

    The above point, of course, is akin to my post suggesting that other nations that have always relied on America to clean up their messes might make fewer messes when they realize that they’ve been abandoned by America.

    As for Mr. Bookworm, I’d like more of his help around the house because the kids need that role model and because I don’t like feeling like his maid. However, he earns the bulk of our income, and is entitled to a great deal of consideration in return.

  • BrianE

    Also Birthday Greetings!
    Was your husband raised in a religious home? Otherwide how could he have learned such traditional gender roles?
    Having been a messyist when young, and only able to control the impulse late in life, my wife also gave up the battle with our son. To my shame, I didn’t take the lead in this because, after all, I was a messyist and I turned out all right!
    What a mistake. Your husband would do you and your son the greatest service possible by taking up this battle. I will say other than this failing, I did do the disciplining in our household.
    Growing up, our son’s room would have made the aftermath of Katrina look ordered and tidy. Today (he’s living at home while attending school), even after joining the Marine reserves which we assumed would provide the necessary discipline to correct our error, his room is as messy as if he had never learned to fold his socks and bounce quarters off his bunk.
    But I do think the only chance it has of taking is if your husband does the heavy lifting on this. In fact, I think that the male role is best passed on when discipline is administered by the man.
    Maybe too much female discipline of boys has produced this generation of sissy-men you were pointing out in another thread.
    There was a time in history when the phrase, “wait till your father comes home”, meant something other than making sure there was sufficient beer in the ‘fridge.

  • Mike Devx

    BrianE #22
    > There was a time in history when the phrase, “wait till your father comes home”, meant something other than making sure there was sufficient beer in the ‘fridge.

    LOL! Classic one-liner!

  • Ymarsakar

    Bad habits are inculcated in the young by no discipline, not discipline from a mother rather than a father.

    In so far as there are role models for boys and girls, people naturally gravitate and emulate those that they believe are like themselves or related to themselves. Children don’t have an intellectual background to recognize what they like or do not like to emulate, so they naturally gravitate towards gender roles. Girls for femininity based upon what they see as feminine, mothers and more greatly popular culture icons. Boys, their fathers or other strong symbols of strength or authority.

    These things are sub-conscious. But they are not totally unchangeable. For example, when Book trains in martial arts and her son does the same, her son relates to her more on the issue of teamwork and group hunting (which is derived from physical group projects) in which the senior member leaders and the junior members stay quiet in the background to learn. Thus the role model has become disentangled from the gender roles. Because all that matters is the habit, the practice, the doing.

    While people learn much by observing, they learn much stronger and durable habits by the doing.

  • Bookworm

    Y, you’ve nailed the psychology in our house.

  • Ymarsakar

    Of course, there’s also those private and solo instances in which one learns a ton of lessons by oneself.

    For example, one time I was cutting the top of a tube of artificially sweetened and colored water with a razor. I applied too much haphazard force and the blade ended up almost slicing off a good junk of the flesh on the right side of my right index finger.

    Since the blade cut cleanly through a bunch of capillaries at the end of the finger, all kinds of blood was gushing out. I hastily grabbed some tissue and wrapped it around my finger. I didn’t really get a look at the wound, so I didn’t know if the flesh was completely separated or not, but I thought if I just compressed it together that it might re-attach itself.

    A couple of lessons from this solo instance.

    1. Knives don’t cut things by themselves, it takes you to do it.

    2. And if you are lacking in strength or foresight, then the knife may not do you much good, and may do you a lot of harm.

    3. Control is more important than brute muscular force/power and the exercise there of. No control, bad things tend to happen.

    4. If you start slicing pieces of flesh off of people, while forcing them to watch, the impulse to tell the truth/do what the slicer wants is very very high. Just extrapolate from personal experience. (torture doesn’t work. Everybody is strong enough to lie or not give you what you want under such conditions. Everybody must be a saint/martyr/god in training then.)

    Well, I didn’t learn 4 when I was a kid, of course.

  • Ymarsakar

    Sadie, you mean this one? ; )


  • BrianE

    It would be an interesting study to see if there are any patterns emerge if one parent or the other is the disciplinarian.
    Her bonding with her son is a different matter, IMHO.
    I learned all about carpentry from my mother. My dad didn’t know what end of the hammer to hold (this is, of course not true, but it gave him the excuse not to do manual labor but that is not to say he didn’t do manual labor. As a the owner of a hardware store, he both knew a lot about tools and did manual labor. Just not at home.
    My mother, bless her, was not afraid to tackle anything, whether it be tearing down walls in one place and putting them back up in another or digging a hole in the back yard for a small swimming pool. It was an affliction that I’m just now recovering from. Our house has been in a 30 year state of re-construction as I first built it and then proceeded to perfect it.
    My daughters consciously sought out husbands who had no interest in DIY, as a defense mechanism.
    As to the discipline, being the youngest, and having almost died from an illness in first grade, my mother became overly protective and didn’t allow much discipline. And Y, yes the natural trait of messiness does need to be overcome by discipline. I wouldn’t be surprised if her son responded to her husband’s discipline, though it will be a battle either way. Plus nagging is very draining.
    Funny about the mildew. One of my wife’s pet peeves– leaving wet towels in the hamper. I can’t smell it so it never bothers me.
    And we all do our own laundry. My wife trained us well.

  • Ymarsakar

    I wouldn’t be surprised if her son responded to her husband’s discipline, though it will be a battle either way. Plus nagging is very draining.

    Given Book’s limitations under the social services secret police, her husband is not going to create “discipline” to be responded to. Because there are ROE limitations, and the husband is not outside of those limitations.

    Book is thus, as she is limited in treating with fake liberals, to using subtle and indirect methodologies.

    They are not ineffective. Reverse psychology and psychological warfare can accomplish great things without direct action operations. It is harder to keep consistent, however. Physical pain is very consistent. There is no arguing about it. Once received, it cannot be bargained with.

    But sociological and psychological pressure can differ based upon one’s location, environment, and peers. The environment and the reasoning Book provides to her children can stay static in her home, but will change while the kids are at camp/school/etc.