Friday, November 22, 2013

Photo A Day, Day 22: Behind

According to the dictionary, “behind” has a whole list of meanings. It can be used as a preposition with five different meanings: at or toward the rear of; not keeping up with, later than; in the state of making less progress than; on the farther side of, beyond; and originating, supporting, or promoting. It can be used as an adverb with five more meanings: at or toward the rear, rearward; in a place, state, or stage already passed; in arrears; slow, as a watch or clock; and as a cause or often latent feature of. In addition, it can be an adjective meaning “following”, or a noun meaning “the buttocks” (tee hee).

There are a lot of “behinds” in my world in all the various senses of the word. I wipe behinds, I run behind, I find things behind other things, I am behind various causes, I frequently fall behind schedule. So when I considered subjects for today’s photo, there were a lot of different ways I could have gone. There are always a few interesting items that my kids have dropped behind the TV or the couch (Legos, socks, remotes, Matchbox cars, dust rhinos). They love to run around pants-free so a cute but tasteful shot of a naked behind racing past was an option. Their favorite hidey-hole happens to be behind a chair. They race around the house one behind the other. Come to think of it, most of the “behind” in my life has its source with my children, one way or the other.

But honestly, the first thing I think of when I hear the word “behind” is laundry. Somehow, no matter how many loads I run, I’m always behind on laundry. For a family that has a lot of clothes, rarely a day goes by when someone isn’t looking for some article of clothing that turns out to be in the laundry, be it in the laundry basket, in the washing machine, in the dryer, or folded in a pile on the stairs waiting to be put away. 

A pile of dirty laundry will always be foremost in my mind as a symbol of motherhood.

But despite the constant state of “behindness” of my laundry pile, there’s something special about doing my kids’ laundry. Matching up those tiny socks. Checking the pockets for rocks and bugs and acorns and other fascinating detritus of the day. Hanging up that fluffy party dress or that button-up dress shirt with matching necktie on a miniature hanger. Realizing suddenly that the baby clothes are looking more and more like big kid clothes. Replacing bibs with underpants. Noticing that the spitup stains have given way to grass stains. Recognizing that the clothes that I picked out are rarely seen and the ones they picked out for themselves are making more frequent appearances.

Laundry is a microcosm of kids growing up. Before I know it, they’ll be doing their own laundry for fear that I’ll ruin their favorite pair of jeans or that cool concert tee shirt. And I’ll be left with only my husband’s and my own laundry to do. I just hope that by the time that happens, I’ll be ready to leave their childhoods…behind.

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