mama mondays: adventure at the laundrymat


On Friday, this is where two of my kids and I spent a couple hours. Yes, each of those windows contains clothes from the Salonen clan. We pretty much took over the whole laundrymat!

As much as I complain about the never-ending chore of laundry (I feel like I live and breathe either sorting, washing or drying clothes), when you’ve got seven loads that need to be dried and the dryer has decided to go kaput, you realize how much you’ve failed to appreciate a clothes dryer in good working order.

I couldn’t afford to let those seven piles sit all weekend. So off we went. First, to the bank for quarters, then to the laundrymat. My 8-year-old did everything he could to avoid pinching his nose while entering the place he determined didn’t have the best smell. But things sort of evened out after he discovered the vending machines inside. By the middle of the session, both kids were thanking me for bringing them to the laundrymat. Who knew this would prove to be such a fun adventure?

My 11-year-old was delighted from the get-go. “I always see laundrymats in movies but I’ve never been in one for real. This will be fun!” I didn’t share her enthusiasm at that point. Weekends in early marriage spent in laundrymat prison flashed through my mind. My delight back then in finally purchasing a washer and dryer of our own was unprecedented.

But on Friday, I started to look through my kids’ eyes and recall fonder memories of days at the laundrymat. They took place back in my hometown in Poplar, Montana, at Ault’s Laundrymat downtown. My mom would bring her novel, and my sister and I would hop around on the orange chairs near the folding table, waiting and watching. We sneaked glances at the others there to take on the mundane task of clothes-washing, noting with curiosity the personal garments that went in and out of the machines. (You can learn a lot about a person from their underwear…) When that became boring, we would stall in front of the big picture window and watch the happenings of our small city. With the laundrymat situated next to a bar, there were plenty of things to observe, and odd smells to match it. My 8-year-old would have deemed our Fargo laundrymat a field of lavendar next to the putrid smells that emanated from the bar next to the laundrymat. But what did we care? We were young and life was a grand adventure, with all of its unexplored territory and the questions that arose.

Spending a few hours at our laundrymat Friday afternoon brought it all back, thanks in large part to my kids, who delighted in plopping quarters into the large dryers and watching their clothes roll round and round in the hot air while they played a game of King’s Corner. Occasionally, they’d sneak glances and bits of conversation from the other patrons. The laundrymat is a communal event, after all. When at last the dryers stopped, they helped me wheel the rolling metal baskets over to our section to catch the dried clothes. It wasn’t until we were midway through folding that my daughter declared, “This is boring now,” and my son slumped in a chair nearby, exhausted from all the work. Soon enough, though, we were hauling baskets of clean, folded clothes to the van. And just like that, it seemed to me, seven loads of laundry were ready to go!

Thankfully, my dear hubby had everything back in working order the following day. He found me in the kitchen and brushed past me with his load of newly-dryed, still-hot clothes; his way of telling me it was fixed.

So, it’s back to drying clothes at home, but now that I know what an adventure the laundrymat can be, we might return sooner rather than later.

Q4U: Do you have a laundrymat memory?