Confessions of a Male Who Does the Laundry

Published December 24, 1981. A few weeks ago, I wrote a column about husbands becoming more involved in doing the family laundry. Imagine my surprise when my own neighbor, Omar Kader, confessed that he was a laundry-doer. He wrote:

Dear Launderer,

I too am a laundry-doer and have been since my days as a house-husband back in graduate school. It started very innocently when we had just one baby, and I’d lift the diaper pail into the washer. From the first basket of dirty diapers to this day, I have been plagued with the lost socks, wrong cycle, forgetting to drop the lid, forgetting the ‘Bounce’ (static controller), etc.

There were days when I knew not a single male on the face of the earth was subjected to my plight. I even remember the day I was scolded for vacuuming too loudly when my wife was on the phone running the Governor’s campaign in Utah County.

There are happy moments, however. Like the day I was making the bed, and I found the missing sock in the corner of the fitted sheets. It was a warm feeling that came over me, like I had found a long-lost friend.

One real problem for me lately is the growing children. Two of our four boys wear similar sizes, and I can’t tell the clothes apart. When I misplace a shirt, I get chewed out. It is also humbling having a 7-year-old look at you like you are some type of mental dwarf for your failure to recognize which drawer one of the 150 socks goes in. Then the advent of tube socks complicated everything. ‘One size fits all.’ Well, how the heck am I to know which socks fits where? “Color,” the 4-year-old tells me. “Red are mine, except for the blue ones with green stripes!!”

I guess the real frustration comes when you discover two or three pieces of clothing I forgot to wash in the white load. Then I have to wait for another two days until enough ‘whites’ emerge for a full load. My wife is not too forgiving of moves like that.

Last year Nancy read “Lord of the Rings” to our children. It took five months to read four volumes. During her one hour reading sessions each night, I washed clothes, vacuumed, and did the dishes. I sometimes wavered between dynamic househusband and negligent chauvinist with never a dull moment.

I must say, however, some of our best discussions take place on weekend nights after the kids go to bed, and I iron every shirt I own. About every two weeks I iron for a couple of hours while Nancy reads the paper or magazines and tells me about them, or we have a general discussion about our life. I always put the ironing board up at the foot of the bed, and we talk for hours.

I’d love to write more, Brent, but everybody is asleep, and it is so nice and quiet. I think I’ll take some time for myself!”

Sincerely, Omar Kader

It was interesting to note that Omar not only helps with the laundry, but also irons all of his own shirts. One might think he has more time than other husbands, but Omar goes to work each day like everyone else and is highly involved in community and civic activities. In addition, he is a Latter-day Saint bishop!

I’ve closely checked to see if there is scriptural basis for a bishop to do the family ironing. I found just one. Paul said, “I press toward the mark” (Phillipians 3:14). And I was recently told that Bishop Kader’s favorite hymn is “Let Us All Press On.”

A Mormon bishop who does the family ironing? Is that what it means when it says in the last days some will have their conscience seared with a hot iron? (I Timothy 4:2). Indeed, a sign of the times.

Merry Christmas to all. And in the year ahead may you iron out all the pressing matters in your marriage.

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