I bring her folded laundry with a pronouncement "This is for the undeserving."
She is only kind of listening, which is what I get these days. "This. Your laundry. Delivered."
Oh thanks, she says, as if the valet has brought it in. Which, from a certain point of view, I suppose she has.
And then she looks up at me and tilts her head, "undeserving?"
"Yes. Because you and I both know that this laundry is the same laundry I washed the last time. The same clean laundry that you never wore. I have placed it, just like the last time, folded, on a shelf, where it will stay until you see something you want to wear. You will pull that thing out of the middle, just like a bad game of Jenga, and the other clothes will fall to the floor where they will live in random patterns until someone, probably me, either picks them up and puts them somewhere, or, more likely, washes them again. I'm convinced that there are clothes in here that have never been worn, but have been washed a dozen or more times."
And yes, for the record I really do talk like that. No, I can't believe it either. I hardly recognize myself sometimes.
She nods and says "Oh." She feels bad for about 2.5 seconds. And then she goes back to her homework/music video/chat window.
The answer of course, is to stop doing her laundry (really, their laundry, the 8-year old also gets an equally undeserving pass). I know this.
The definition of insanity reminds me that what I'm doing is both nutty and enabling but I can't help myself. There is a finite amount of time during which I can tiptoe (trip) stumble (kick) around the clothes on the floor. Tick tock. Tick tock. Then all of a sudden, BRRRRRRRRING! and I'm off to the laundry. Sorting by color, by clothing type. Picking up wrinkled clothes, that, were they not on the floor (where the dog is) would be perfectly suitable for wearing.
I don’t know from where I inherited this 1950s cleanliness is next to godliness attitude (I'm not particularly godly, so why can't I give up the whole idea?) and it's not really working out for me. It would be one thing if the chore was somehow therapeutic and I felt better after doing it. But it's not. It's just a chore and it's on my list.
I'm not even a neat freak. I can live with messy rooms (mostly). I can live with a dog that sheds and a miniature compost bin in the kitchen. But messy children in dirty clothes presses some kind of "what will the neighbors think" button that I normally don't react to.
The rule is still this: the person who cares the most will both give in first and bear the brunt of the chore. And that person is still me.