Clotheslines

When my husband and I were first married we lived in a roomy Bungalow by our college. One day, behind our old shed I found an old clothesline pole- two lengths of pipe welded together to make a T. I knew there had to be a twin to it and sure enough, found it in the alley. My parents scoffed at me for re-installing it (they had worked hard to leave the kind of life where you dried your clothes outside) but I thought it was the coolest thing ever and loved hanging our laundry on it to dry.

Fast-forward a few years and we were blessed with our first child. I would put her in her pram and take her outside while I hung her diapers up to dry. I can still see the sun on her little face and feel her soft pajamas and warmth in my arms. I still don’t understand why the act of hanging clothes out to dry is so nostalgic and happy for me. It went against all the anger I carried for so long about having to work outside the home and still have all the responsibilities of house and child care when I got back home from work. Yes, I am married, and my husband should have helped more in the beginning. He came from a culture that worshiped the boys and waited on them. Where the mom didn’t work outside the home.  But I didn’t understand how to grow my marriage then, only how to martyr myself.

With all that being said, that clothesline was my lifeline. There was something so heart-filling about that job that I yearned to feel that way about taking care of my home and family. Since I had that taste of happiness I strove to make changes. Things got better, I learned how to ask for help, how to encourage my husband and how to stop feeling sorry for myself. Yeah, it sucked I had to go to work, but at least I had a job! There were times when we didn’t and were on the brink of going hungry. I slowly turned my ship around. Turned it from waters I had learned growing up to new waters where housework was love for my family made visible. Waters where perfectionism was not allowed in any shape or form. Waters where even work done badly was still a blessing to my family. I found out the person hardest on me was me.

When I quit beating myself up I started enjoying what I was doing. The devil was stealing my joy from my work! When I stopped worrying about perfectionism I stopped screaming at my family for making even the smallest mess. When I kicked those things to the curb I trained my children on jobs they could do. And they did them!

When I stopped treating my husband like a dolt who didn’t know how to do anything he bloomed into a wonderful helper. He will do anything I ask. I have to ask sometimes, but that’s ok. We work together and side-by-side a lot of the time.

We moved to a small house after living in that rent house for 7 years. There my husband bought me a new tree clothesline that was going to be better than the old one. I left the old one there hoping it would bring someone else joy. The new line was never the same though. It was incredibly hard to hang sheets on, I kept running into it, and it didn’t bring me much joy or dry laundry in it’s dark, shady spot. (Our yard was very awkward and this was the only place for it.) So when we moved to our Victorian I left it there.

Today there are quiet moments that I slip out the back door on a sunny day with a basket of laundry and the clothespin bag. As I head out to the back yard I see my clothesline. It’s the very same one I had 20 years ago. My husband, you see, saw it on the side of the road with the trash when our old rent house changed hands a few years ago. We picked it up and brought it to our new house and he set the poles for me. He knew how much it had meant to me. That is love. When I clip our clothes onto the lines I pray for each family member. It still makes me deliriously happy and I thank God that long ago this clothesline changed the way I loved my family.

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