Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Literary Mama Rewind: Spring Cleaning

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Welcome to Literary Mama Rewind! Every few weeks we'll round up some of our favorite essays, stories, poems, columns, and reviews from the Literary Mama archives relating to a particular theme. It's time for some spring cleaning. This month we're sharing stories of laundry, ironing, and all those other housekeeping skills some of us love, and some would rather leave on the shelf to collect dust.

I had an almost primal love of all things connected to laundry. I loved the aroma of the cleaning fluids, probably toxic, at the dry cleaners, and the scent of starch from the Chinese laundry.

No time has ever passed so quickly as the hour I sometimes manage to gain in the morning to write. It seems I have barely begun and am just getting rolling when it is time to become a mother again, to suddenly wonder if there are clean and possibly matching socks, what will be for breakfast, and what will I take for lunch.

She spoke of ironing sheets and said
her children loved to come and rest
beneath linens pressed to crisp perfection.

  • Ama de Casa by Kate MacVean from the Column Mothering Abroad

I imagine these women with their mountains of wrinkled shirts and pants -- since everything is line-dried, even jeans and t-shirts need ironing -- and I vow never to become one of them.

If I give up earthly attachment and retreat to monastic life, if I end up divorced and living in a studio apartment, if you find me in a women's commune living off the grid, know that it was all for this: housework. I hate it. I won't do it.

Taylor, 8, also looks around in disbelief. She peeks around the corner at the living room and says, "Everything is so nice and clean!"
I laugh. "It's not like the house has never been clean before."

She taught my older brother to iron his shirts, but not me. Was this a nascent feminism, making sure that I wouldn't be the only one to do the household chores? If so, I think it worked.

I was apprehensive about reviewing Darla Shine's Happy Housewives. The book's premise, written in a chatty "hey, girls" style, is that Shine, a former career woman, has found happiness as a mother through surrendering herself to the domestic realm and embracing her inner happy housewife.


Amanda Jaros is a freelance writer and blogger, focusing on nature and science stories. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and magazines including Terrain.org, Newfound, Life in the Finger Lakes Magazine, Highlights for Children, and Cargo Literary. She holds an MFA in creative nonfiction from Chatham University.


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