My annual trial by bachelorhood is upon me. My wife, thanks to her career in the academy, is able to abscond with the kids to Cape Cod for an extended vacation every summer. Tethered by deadlines, I have to stay behind in steaming Austin for ten days before joining them.
It’s a productive work time, and in the off hours, I create little tests for myself like trying to never eat out, incorporating everything in the bi-weekly bushel delivery from local farms in my “recipes.” I run a lot, and take the opportunity to lay off the wine for a while.
Despite the distractions I create for myself, I inevitably get lonely, borderline nutty, getting nostalgic for unlikely things. Maybe the most unlikely things. Dirty laundry, for one.
As my marriage has reshaped over time, my wife’s career becoming more and more the dominant one in our family (thanks, internet!), I have tried hard to pick up more work around the house. My wife loves to cook, and she’s a good one, so I’ve shopped and handled the dishes.
The laundry was clearly another place I could help out. And we make a lot of that.
We’re an athletic family. My younger two kids are three-sport athletes, my wife is a gym rat, and I train for marathons. We can generate towering damp drifts of sweaty clothes.
But none of us can touch my oldest child, my teenager, for sheer volume or pungency of laundry.
Club soccer, cross-country, lacrosse. Practice gear, game uniforms. Plus, he’s huge — over six feet and only fourteen years old.
And that’s only the sports stuff. He’s not a clothes horse, my man-child son, but like any teen he’s got his likes and dislikes when it comes to his look. He sports Polo t-shirts, which we get him at the Outlet Mall, and fancy Nike socks which are outrageously expensive and not to be found for a discount anywhere — and also come in left and right. As if pairing athletic socks wasn’t onerous enough!
The tonnage of his dirty clothes presents both a logistical and hygienic issue — certain pieces of athletic clothes might be needed several times in one week. The athletic stuff also tends to go south before the rest of the other stuff. And nobody, unconditional love or not, wants to go digging through a teen’s dirty laundry looking for the precious compression shorts he needs.
The solution for us came in the form of a simplehuman double x-frame laundry hamper ($99). Like all the products from simplehuman, the design is functional, elegant and problem solving. The hamper features an x frame, from which hang two separate canvas and mesh bags.
For my son and his laundry staff, that means a simple solution — sports stuff on the left, everything else on the right. It’s a system even a teen boy can buy into.
Multiple times a week, I just grab that left hand bag by the two sturdy handles and haul it out. When full, the bag will stand upright. Little things that just make the whole operation more efficient. I transfer the contents, and pretty soon, my kid is ready to roll out the door to make himself filthy all over again. Just as he should.
Both sides are hanging empty right now. My own laundry output is kind of pathetic. And I miss folding my kids’ clothes.
Not that I’m asking for any praise for it, but that’s something different for me. Something that at one time I might have been ashamed to admit. Something a lot of guys might once have been ashamed to admit. It’s a little domestic bellwether, indicative of a larger trend. I’m a dad, out-earned by his wife, but with a career (which is a good time to disclose that I am a simplehuman brand ambassador, have been paid for this post, and provided the hamper) who has made small but significant changes in the way I contribute to the household.
As a result, I’ve struggled with my own definitions of manhood and success, but come away proud of the changes I’ve made, and ultimately grateful for the new angle on parenthood they have provided. I write about that, and products I like which makes me a daddyblogger.
Also something new.
Also something that makes me proud.
So on that note, let’s do the dad blog thing. There’s a giveaway I want to let you know about as well. It’s pretty simple. Go over to the simplehuman site. Check out their products. Leave a comment on one and you’re entered to win that product. Tweet about it, and you’re entered again.
My fellow simplehuman ambassadors are also writing on their favorite products today. I encourage you to check them out.