The first step up Mount Washing Machine begins with a Lego block stabbing my big toe. The laundry in my arms, overflowing like a muffin top, threatens to tumble out. Dobby, my sherpa, barks so that my pace doesn’t falter.
We have just begun, and the journey is long. I think of the fathers before me and hope I stack up.
The mountain trail is littered with trash and dirty t-shirts. I bend down and grab randomly, come up with a pair of toddler underwear, a boy’s sock, and a colored pencil. I do not ask why there is a pencil on the stairs. It would be too easy to get lost in metaphysical musings.
Two more steps, five more articles of clothing scooped up. The air is getting thin, and I can’t trust my vision. Is that my phone on the fourth step? It’s playing a video of tiny hands opening up plastic eggs. Kids YouTube, the song of my people.
I reach the landing, halfway to the washing machine we worship. I open the laundry basket there. It’s supposed to be base camp; it’s supposed to be filled with laundry.
There are only stuffed animals in the hamper; 5,000 plastic eyes stare at me. This is what we put in the laundry hamper. Not clothes.
Clothes we throw on the stairs or behind the TV, as is our tradition.
I drop my load and grab Carl, a white plush polar bear. I tell him my laundry issues as I stroke his comforting polyester fur. Carl gets me.
He reminds me that my climb is not yet over. I must hurry. The toddler is almost done not napping.
Another step and I kick something small and hard. It tings off the wall and tumbles down. Red nail polish lands and spins at the bottom of the stairs. My sherpa whines while his tail goes still. I wait to see if the vial is broken. Nothing leaks and I’m relieved.
I make a note to ask why my 11-year-old daughter left nail polish on the stairs. Then I’ll ask her why a toothbrush is on the next to last step. I kick at it savagely, lose my balance and stick out an arm to catch myself.
Half the laundry tumbles out. I flail, trying to grab what is lost but lose the rest. My tribute to Mount Washing Machine cascades down, some landing next to the hamper. Other pieces catch a breeze and blow into the living room.
Only the toddler underwear remains. I curse. I refuse to pick up the toothbrush.
I head back down the mountain to retrieve my offering, looking forward to another therapy session with Carl.
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Originally Published on Hossman at Home