This week I drove to the grocery store. Grocery shopping is not one of the items on my Favorites List because it takes so much money, planning & time. I was grumbling about going because it was 7 pm and it was the last thing I wanted to do with my night, but we were down to crusts of bread. So in an attempt to be a good & responsible parent, I headed to the store.
I drove past the coin laundromat on the way and saw a woman doing her laundry. This is not a particularly unusual sight, but I thought about her for quite a while that night. It was a cold night and I began to wonder how she was able to haul all their laundry there. Did she have to pack it into the backseat of a car, or did she have to drag it in a garbage bag onto a bus? I wondered how long she would’ve had to wait for the bus to arrive. And what if the bag got a hole in it and all the clothes spilled out?
Did she bring their kids with her, even though it was cold outside and close to bedtime? Did she have to find someone to watch her kiddos while she waited? Or did she leave their oldest in charge while she went out? I wondered how often she’d have to repeat this tedious exercise to launder clothes for her family. Once per week? Twice a month? Or longer?
And once the clothes are done, how long would she have to wait for the bus to get home? It’d be pretty dark and cold outside by the time she’d be finished. I wondered if she’d have to haul it all up several flights of stairs to an apartment once she arrived home. Would she have to take it all in one trip, or would she have anyone to help her carry it once she got home?
And just the exercise of wondering about this made me feel sad. It’s such a simple thing for me–laundry, groceries–the things of a household. I have a car that I can drive whenever I wish. I have a washer and dryer in my home and can throw a load in between other things. But I’ve never thought about these things as a major part of my schedule that I’d need to plan ahead for.
There’s a mama & papa down the street from me that have two kiddos and recently adopted three siblings from foster care. Like, at the same time. They now have 3 three-year-olds. Just thinking about their lives makes me want to inject an espresso/wine cocktail into my veins. This mama posted to Facebook that she was trying to catch up on laundry while her kids napped. A mom of one of her Facebook friends was alerted to her SOS, came to her house, picked up her laundry and did it for her.
I want to be a person like that. When I think and feel paralyzed about the big things–like politics, trafficking, injustice and grocery shopping–it’s nice to be reminded that there’s just about a million little things I can do for people too.
Maybe you can think of someone who needs a little laundry or grocery help this week. An older person, a single mom, someone going through a hard time. We all wonder what we can do but feel paralyzed or awkward about offering. Or maybe we’ve never really given it that much thought, like me.
Dude. Just get out there.
And if anyone out there is handy and wants to build something for the mama of five down the street, she’d like this for her laundry room:
Update: one of you stepped forward and built this for my neighbor. Thank you for your kindness.