After I gave birth to my third son, a lovely Jamaican man came into my hospital room with my dinner tray. He spied the picture of the two older boys and then at my blue-capped newborn and said,“Ah, the mother of sons. You will be a queen one day.”
Here’s an update for you… I’m still waiting.
What that guy failed to mention is that the road to the crown is paved with mud, stains and unidentifiable odors.
To think I used to spend HOURS drinking in that sweet baby smell and now I scramble to stay down wind of the whole lot of them. And their friends.
My status in the family is never clearer than when they hand me the rugby, football or baseball pants to wash. These items require special delivery because they are too caked with mud to be tossed into the hamper with the run-of-the-mill disgusting stuff.
My husband does the big loads of laundry (no, that still does not make me Queen, I sort and fold) but the athletic gear is all mine.
My 15 year old just brought home his practice pants and jersey for the first time after weeks of football.
WEEKS, people. Grass, mud and blood caked all three. I wished for an old-fashioned wash board while I tried not to think about whose blood was shed on his jersey.
Kids have been playing football since roughly the 1930’s. I cannot imagine what those old-time pants were made of or how anyone got them clean. No Sport Tide detergent, Oxi spot pre-treater and wick-away fabrics back in the day.
I think they just bleached them until their skin burned off and called it a day.
This was a challenge dammit and I was going to get them white again if it killed me. It took three times of filling the sink, soaking and draining to get clear water. Even the experts at the WSSC have not seen water this brown.
This was royal alright. It was a royal pain…I pre-treated and scrubbed each spot until my arm muscles ached and then poured in some bleach and let them marinate. My house smelled clean even if the football gear was not.
I had been at it for over an hour. My hands were pruned and I might possibly have ruined the chance for a good fingerprint should I ever end up in the slammer. I rinsed everything one final time and took them outside to dry, letting the sun do some of my dirty work. Since my deck is the modern-day equivalent of a clothes line, I draped stuff everywhere. The athletic girdle with the pads built-in twisted every time I tried to hang it so I just threw it in a chair and hoped for the best.
My poor neighbors, at any given time there is an array of personal items drying on my deck. We are the Beverly Hillbillies and if we had more room on the lawn, we would park the truck there too.
I went back inside and further distanced myself from my queenly status by cleaning up my mess and doing the dishes I’d piled on the counter to clear the sink.
It was 9:30 am and I was exhausted. Now I know why all the pics of women from pioneer days show them with an arm draped across their forehead and looking wrung out. Like Scarlett O’Hara, spent from the rigors of deciding between Ashley and Rhett, I needed to take to my bed.
Well, in reality I lounged for an episode of Baywatch in Hawaii circa 1996. That show has more cheese than Wisconsin and it was the perfect elixir for my overwrought soul. Although there were some tense moments when Matt got bitten by a poisonous fish and almost fell down the rapids trying to reach the fishing village for assistance with Mitch. How come this show never won an Emmy?
But there was a happy ending for the lifeguards and for me. When I walked out onto the deck a few hours later, the white was blinding I tell you. Every trace of dirt was gone.
After lunch my son came down to get ready for practice. I had gathered everything up for him and watched him shove all my hard work carelessly into his bag. He grabbed his water jug and gear and as he walked out the door he said:
“Thanks mom, you are the best. You really got all that stuff clean.”
In that moment, I understood the subtlety of what that attendant was saying. Mothering boys is noble work as they really are alien creatures to us mothers. They make big messes and big smells but they love big too. And when that big love shines on you, it is a regal moment indeed.
Photo credit: Mike G
Maureen Stiles writes at her blog, Magnificence in the Mundane, where she chronicles the beauty within the chaos of raising three boys and a dog with her husband, given that the dog is the only one that really understands her. You can also follow Maureen on Facebook and Twitter.